Nitecore P30i | Expert Review by Koen van der Jagt
With the P30i, Nitecore is releasing the 3rd version of this successful model. The strong aspect of the P30 series is the enormous reach compared to its size. The P30i takes it up a whole notch in terms of output and range compared to its predecessors. What does this mean in real life? Read all about it here!
My first impressions
The P30i comes in a luxurious box with magnetic closure. As we have come to expect from Nitecore, this set is also quite complete; a new accessory is the included remote control. The only thing I often miss in current packages is a charger, which is also missing from this package. Other than that, it leaves nothing to be desired.
The P30i is a lot bigger than its predecessors, and this is largely due to the head of the light being a lot deeper as well as having a larger diameter. The proportions are right and the light exudes something impressive with that big head and deep reflector. The light has a nice matt-black design, and the quality and finish are also good: no sharp edges, laser engraving neatly aligned and the light source sits neatly in the centre of the reflector. A raised surface on the head of the light(which contains the mode switch) keeps it from rolling away. The variation in structure and texture makes for a good grip; the included clip (which can be mounted facing up or down) is slightly on the small side. The back of the light is enhanced with a rubber clicky that serves as the main switch with the usb-c port next to it for charging the flashlight or attaching the remote control. The little rubber that covers the usb-c port comes off quite easily and has a somewhat cheap appearance. For me, the head is the most impressive part of the P30i with its smooth and deep reflector and the powerful XHP35 HI LED. The inside of the flashlight looks good, the threads are nicely greased and run smoothly.
The P30i leaves a good first impression; finish and quality are more than fine.
When and how
Its great reach and practical size make the P30i suitable for monitoring and security, search operations, but the light also fits on a weapon, so it's also an interesting option for wildlife managers. The switch on the back and the included remote control make the lamp perfect for the before mentioned audiences. Thanks to the energy-saving low mode of 6 lumens, you can also use the flashlight indoors, although it's clear that the P30i was not designed to be used inside.
The Nitecore P30i in terms of controls and comfort
After removing the battery protection, simply charge the lamp via the supplied cable that plugs into the usb charging port. Nitecore sticks to a blue light for charging status, I find red/green more clear. As it is, you have to wait for the slowly blinking blue light to burn continuously, which means the P30i is completely charged again. Charging it completely will take about four hours, so keep that in mind. You can also use the P30i with a set of CR123As or rechargeable RCR123As, in case you need the light to last until you get home or in very cold conditions. These batteries have much less power than the 21700 that comes with the flashlight, so if you're using these other batteries, you miss out on the turbo mode and only end up with half the maximum output. The battery status is continuously displayed in 3 steps when the lamp is switched on. After charging or changing the battery, the blue LED will display the voltage to the nearest 0.1 V.
The controls seem standard at first glance, but Nitecore regularly comes up with surprising inventions that you don't immediately expect. You turn the flashlight on with the clicky on the back, then half-press for momentary or switch again for continuously on. With the side switch, you switch between the five brightness levels. This button is easy to locate in the dark, because the blue battery status light stays on during use. The surprise is that the side switch has an instant function. When you're in stand-by mode and press and hold this button for more than a second, the maximum 2000 lumens are immediately at your disposal until you release the button or the light automatically steps down in intensity to prevent it from overheating. Even with the light switched on, this instant-turbo option works with the special feature that the P30i now switches back to the previous selected mode after 30 seconds. I think this is another cool find from Nitecore!
On the included remote control (which you clip onto the back and connect via the usb port), you will find two sections separated by a raised edge. The top button serves as an on/off switch or to activate the strobe. The lower part (divided into three small buttons) is intended as a mode switch or, when the light is switched off, as a momentary-on. The aforementioned instant-turbo function is also available (with the lamp switched on) via this section of the remote control.
The special modes are beacon, SOS and stroboscope. It's typical that you need the remote control to turn on the stroboscope, but the beacon and the SOS don't work with the remote. Three quick clicks on the mode button turn on the flash mode, to proceed to SOS you have to hold down the button afterwards. Short press to switch off again, the last mode used is not saved with this option. Strobe is available at lightning speed with the upper part of the remote control: as soon as you press the button for more than a second, your defence mode is on. I do think it's a shame that this defence mode, which is surely essential in several disciplines, is only available via remote.
The P30i is pleasant to operate thanks to the good interface and its instant functions. The remote allows you to work hands-free, although the cable is a bit short in my opinion. It's too bad that the strobe is not always available.
This is what I love about the Nitecore P30i
The flashlight is very compact in relation to its performance and also has an insanely beautiful light display. The controls with various instant options also pleasantly surprised me. You can enhance the flashlight with quite a range of accessories.
This could be better
Because the main and mode switches are far apart, you cannot operate all options with one hand. You now need two hands to smoothly change light modes, also when you're using the remote control. The rubber covering the usb-c charging port comes off quite easily, and then gets in the way a bit of the power switch.
Value for money?
Compared to its predecessors, the price of the P30i has gone up quite a bit. Still, in my opinion, the i-version is a bit of a different category: heftier, double the output and the maximum range has increased by two-thirds. It also comes with a remote control and has a smarter interface. When I weigh these things against each other, I can justify the price, although the flashlight is still not exactly cheap.
I can be pretty short here: The P30i is simply a cool light with its nice and sleek beam and good interface. Despite its increased size, it is still excellent to handle. It really impressed me during the night testing sessions! Points of improvement, as far as I am concerned, are the strobe mode and the rubber protecting the charging port. Other than that, the quality and workmanship are nothing to complain about.
As always, it is important to read the user manual carefully to see which batteries are suitable and whether you can charge them in the lamp. It's best to use the included battery and if you use it often, to purchase a spare battery. So never experiment!
Last, but not least: the beamshots!
The last chapter in this review is perhaps the most important for many readers: what does the beam look like? The very deep reflector containing a flat XHP35 HI LED provides a sleek beam with quite a bit of spill (residual light) around it. The main difference from its predecessors is that it is abundantly clear that the P30i has double the output. The beam is not only more intense but the hot spot is a lot bigger as well. This creates a kind of thick lightsaber but also gives you the overview of a wider area at a short distance. Like many contemporary lights, the colour of the beam is cool white but without a distracting green or blue tinge. All right!
The first location to test the beamshots is a road alongside an embankment where you can find several trees. The distance to the left turn further on is about 325 metres. The P30i has a really low light mode that is barely visible in the picture.
The next location is a dark forest. Here, you can clearly see the effect of an intense hotspot but also of the large spill. So lots of visibility with the advantage of not blinding yourself.
Lastly, some pictures in an open field. Again, you can see that the P30i effortlessly reaches long distances, and again the advantage of the large hotspot. The P30i is truly a handheld searchlight!
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.