Fenix TK20R UE | Expert Review by Koen van der Jagt
Review of the Fenix TK20R UE: updated design and new controls
If you're looking to purchase a flashlight of about 3000 lumens, there's a lot of options nowadays. Nonetheless, Fenix manages to release a torch with practical features that most competitors lack: a completely new operating concept in addition to great aesthetics. Meet the TK20R UE!
The packaging is like an old friend, though Fenix improved the plastic interior in such a way that parts won't spill out when you're unboxing. The contents are sufficient to get you started; if you're planning to use the torch for specific purposes, you might be interested in purchasing accessories like the remote switch or the flashlight mount. The flashlight comes with a holster and charging cable, though it does not include a charging plug.
The power of colours! It makes it hard to choose a favourite. Though most flashlights only come in 'boring' black, Fenix gives you four fun colours to choose from for the TK20R UE. I ended up choosing the desert tan version, the only one with a camo print. When I was out and about testing the flashlight, I noticed how nicely this colour matched its surroundings. Even the clip has the right colour!
In terms of looks and feels, the TK20R UE fits right in with the rest of the TK collection. It feels nice and sturdy and is slightly heavier than you would expect. All components fit well together and the TK20R UE also reaches a very high standard in terms of finish. Thanks to the notches on the head, the torch stays firmly in place when you put it down. There is a 'strike bezel' on the lamp head: this ring with a kind its recesses can be used to defend yourself if necessary. Inside the lamp head you'll find a Luminus SFT70 LED that provides a balanced mix of brightness and reach. At the bottom of the head of the torch you'll find a ring. It would've been easy to miss if not for the USB icon and the little arrows. The USB-C port is hidden underneath here. It's a more reliable solution than a rubber cap. You'll find the new switch at the back of the torch. This mode switch is built into a recess of the ridge and is therefore not easily confused for the main switch. The mode switch is made from plastic and although it feels solid enough, time will tell whether it can handle the heavy lifting. Inside the body, we see two springs that absorb the shocks for the 21700 battery with a 5000maH capacity. You will notice how smoothly you screw the end cap of the torch back on, though it is advisable to grease the screw threads a few times a year. Even a flashlight can do with some maintenance!
The TK20R UE made a good first impression on me: I have found no flaws in terms of build quality or finish.
When and how
The TK series is designed for tactical use. As a result, these flashlights are as reliable as they are functional. It means that a flashlight from this collection needs to be able to function well and function quickly, even in dire situations. It's no surprise that the target audience for this torch includes law enforcement and security personnel. Fenix also offers accessories for your TK flashlight. Just because this collection is designed for tactical use does not mean that you can't use it in and around your house, however. It can be a great torch for that use too, though there are also more compact and somewhat more manageable flashlights available.
Controls and comfort
Anyone who is familiar with Fenix will know: products from this brand are operated with no-nonsense controls.
Fenix has 'hidden' the charging port away in the lamp head, which I think works perfectly. This way, the protection of the charging port is optimal, and you don't have the risk of a rubber cover accidentally coming off. One thing I'm not as fond of is that the battery status is kind of hidden with the charging port. This indicator lights up briefly when you switch on the TK20R UE to inform you of the battery status with a green or red light. So when you want to see how much power you have left, you'll first have to unscrew the ring. It is therefore advisable to make sure you always set off with a full battery to avoid a nasty surprise. Charging an empty 21700 battery will take approx. 3.5 hours, so I try to do this during the day as much as possible.
The TK20R UE has a slightly larger lamp head, which makes it comfortable to hold and prevents it from slipping from your grip. In terms of weight, this torch is just right. It's easy to carry in your jacket pocket or on your belt with the included holster.
Fenix releases a completely new operating concept with the TK20R UE. Next to the power button on the back is a mode switch that you don't press, but slide into position. You get three options. Push the button to the far left and the torch is fully locked; in the middle it is in duty mode; and on the right it is in tactical mode. The lock-out mode does what it promises; it prevents the flashlight from turning on. The duty mode gives you four settings. When turning the light on, the most-recently used setting will be used. Press the button down halfway for a momentary-on or fully down to lock in the preferred setting. You can only click between light modes when the torch is on. Press the button down halfway to choose your preferred brightness. I do think it is a pity that the duty mode does not have a strobe mode. It seems Fenix did not find a way to make this work with this new operating concept. The tactical mode has two settings: turbo and strobe. Again, you can either half-press or 'lock' the switch. Even when in tactical mode, the TK20R UE remembers the last setting you used. You switch between settings by lightly tapping the switch when it is in fixed position.
In practice, I like this concept very much. You actually have two switches this way and can also use the mode selector switch to get the light to the right setting at record speed, for example from low to strobe, from turbo to low or from off to turbo or strobe.
Type 21700 batteries have a great capacity and also provide a high output. As a result, a relatively small torch can provide a lot of power these days. The turbo mode is especially impressive! Personally, I tend to use the medium mode the most often as it gives a longer burn time. That is not to say that the TK20R UE's highest mode can't be used for minutes at a time with a steady output. The low mode can be used for at least a day and a half, provided you started with a full battery. Find pictures of the light display at the end of this review!
The TK20R UE has what I think is a very interesting operating concept which will particularly appeal to tactical users. You can very easily set up your preferred light mode, so in a stressful situation you will instantly switch on the right mode. Unfortunately, the battery indicator is hidden away, although the torch also indicates with flashing signals when the battery is low.
This is what I like
I don't need a lot of words to express my appreciation: finish, design, power and controls. These features are the torch's strong points.
This could be better
The battery indicator is hidden beneath the protective ring; I don't understand why this choice was made and I find it very impractical. It's also hard to determine which setting you're using when it's dark. Perhaps a glowing switch or an optical display using colour LEDs would be a good solution for this. The strobe mode is not always available fast enough in my opinion. In fact, I believe you should be able to access this defensive mode directly from any mode.
Value for money?
In all honesty, I think the pricing is pretty steep. However, the pricing is not out of range for similar options with built-in charging circuits. Taking this into account, as well as the four cool colours you can choose from, this lamp is sure to find its way to enthusiasts for whom the price will not be a major obstacle. Moreover, purchasing this flashlight will be an investment you can enjoy for years to come.
The TK series of Fenix has been very popular for years now, and with good reason. The impeccable construction quality, lightweight body and simple user interface are the TK20R UE's best features. The new mode switch is an excellent addition, though I would have preferred the strobe mode to be accessible from any mode. I really appreciate the brightness and light display: a substantial and tight beam with an excellent range. The light for the battery status is in an odd place; though I should mention that the USB-C charging port is fully waterproof even without the protective ring, so you can possibly keep the ring unscrewed to get a clear view of the status light this way. And last but not least, I truly think this flashlight looks beautiful.
The beam did not come as a surprise to me; I've seen similar beams from other torches from the TK series. This specific beam has a large hotspot with a high intensity with quite a lot of powerful spill surrounding it. You'll be able to illuminate objects at short distances very brightly and still reach quite a large distance. The spill also ensures your surroundings will be visible. I've tested the flashlight in the Belgian Ardennes where it can get quite dark; you can see the beam's effect nicely when looking at the beamshots. There are no weird inconsistencies in the beam, such as 'stains' or double edges. The beam has a white colour. Below you'll see the four light modes; you can see that the lowest light mode already gives quite a lot of light.
Below is a photo with the flashlight held in hand and camera placed a little further away, so you can get a good idea of the area the TK20R UE is illuminating.
Here are some more pictures of the TK20R UE in action on a completely dark road in the forest. Again, you can see how useful this type of beam is: wide and bright in the centre but also light enough on the periphery, so nothing will escape your notice!
Koen van der Jagt
Ever since he could walk Koen has been interested in lights, wires and batteries. As a child he was always working with dyno torches, bike lights and electrical boxes. The krypton and halogen lights were replaced by LED lights. A couple of years ago he discovered the ‘professional’ stuff. His first brands were Led Lenser and Fenix. Photography is also one of his hobbies. In addition to nature and meteorology Koen loves to show others what a light can do and what its beam looks like at night. Koen’s reviews can often be found on forums such as candlepowerforums.com and taschenlampen-forum.de. Throughout the years Koen has collected lights in practically any category: from small and compact to enormous powerhouses.