Rating: 5 / 5
Small. Light. Bright. Adjustability. Batt-life. Ease of use. Sexy Form Factor.
'Bout says it all. A standout in all of the above ways. I've had Zipka's since the original 3LED ON-OFF version, to the 4LED 'Plus' version, to both of the new 80% brighter '06 3LED Zipka & '06 4LED ZipkaPlus interations. All are winners.
The retractable cord is very nice. The retractable headband enables me to carry one in my left front pant pocket, literally, ALL of the time. Just used it two day's ago to change a flat tire on the way to work. Everyone 'oohs' when i show them the retractable band; never had an exception to the 'Oooh'-Factor/-Response.
The tension on the cord is perfect - neither too tight (so NO PRESSURE when wearing it a long time), nor too lose (such that it would flop about when walking - which it doesn't). Adding a small piece of cotton cloth under the front pad is all that is needed to soak up sweat in hot weather or when exerting oneself.
It doesn't swivel, but, unless one has a head shaped like a "block", it's very easy to shift it up and down on the forehead to the front of the top of the head to direct the light where you want it.
The lack of regulating circuitry, which i do wish it had, is, in actuality, NOT too big a deal. Why? Two reasons: First, headlamps like the PT Quad offer VERY LITTLE regulated output time in HI OUTPUT mode, so speaking of regulation in HI output is almost meaningless. Second, in all modes, but particularly in MED and LO output modes, the light dims at such a slow rate, that the dimming isn't really noticeable at all during extended use - especially, if one is moving about and NOT staring at the same "picture" for hours on end.
The new '06 w/the 80% brighter LEDs, even on low, is a tad too bright for reading & some other close at hand task, esp. when the batts are fresher (since it's unregulated) - use a 1LED microlight for reading is my suggestion.
Lack of a battery indicator is NO BIG DEAL, IMHO. Why? Two reasons:
First, when using the headlamp for a long period of time, one is NOT going to be able to notice that the battery indicator has changed color. Second, people tout the batt. indicator AND Li batt use AT THE SAME TIME. This makes no sense as the characteristic discharge curve of both non-rechrg Li batts and rechargable NiMH batts (and rechargable Li batts which don't exist yet as a consumer product in an AAA form factor) is such that when they will go from GREEN to RED (skipping ORANGE) VERY SUDDENLY near the end of life of the Li & NiMH batts, leaving one with VERY LITTLE REMAINING CONSTANT "BURN" TIME (cycling the light off & allowing the batteries to cool, thus reducing their internal resistance somewhat, will allow a few more minutes of "burn" time - this procedure may be repeated several-to-many times, depending upon the batteries, with reduced "burn" time each cycle).
Now, use of Li batts, which shouldn't be done, according to the Mfr's website, would be nice for cold weather operation, as well as to produce a semi-pseudo-quasi simulated regulation or more constant (really slower dimming) light output. Again, though, this last observation is more theoretical than practical as the light dims so slowly anyways that it's NOT possible to notice that it is dimming.
Personally, i feel that the objections of other in these area, while valid ONLY in the sense that these imperfections exist, are really, from a practical standpoint, moot. That is, they really don't affect practical use at all.
The new '06 models (Zipka/ZipkaPlus) with the 80% brighter LEDs really must be seen. They are, oh, so bright. The '06 3LED Zipka is NOTICEABLY brighter than the earlier 4LED ZipkaPlus. The new '06 4LED ZipkaPlus really appears to my eye twice as bright as the earlier generations of ZipkaPlus.
They say that you don't get something for nothing. Well, in this case that old saying doesn't hold true. Brighter light, you say, 'What's the catch?' Absolutely, nothing. Usually brighter means shorter batt. life. However, in this case the batt. life is increased about 2x over the previous generation. How'd day do dat??? Increased light producing output/efficiency of either the LED technology itself or the phosphor (which coats the inside of the plastic covering over ALL white LEDs) is my guess, but i really don't know. But, in this case, we really do get something (increased duration) for nothing!!!
Young'uns, with good low light vision, will probably have no trouble hiking on a moonless night with this headlamp - maybe even with it set on the MED. setting.
Much better batt. life than any Li coin cell operated microlight or headlamp - the main downfall of the e+LITE which is really in a totally diff. category from this headlamp since the e+LITE is Li coin cell powered.
I'd give it a 4.8 or 4.9, but decimal values aren't allowed - almost nuttin' is perfect, plus the next generation of Zipka is bound to be even better!
At this time, amongst 4x5mm LED, 3xAAA powered headlamps, this is my favorite. However, if the PT Quad had a retractable headband, it would take top honors in my mind due to its almost/nearly equal brightness (to the eye, or i should say to my eye - at least with the particular units that i own) and it's current regulation capability which also permits the use of Li batts; not so with the Zipka/ZipkaPlus - at least it's not recommended by Petzl, the Mfr.