[Quick Hit] Rovyvon A2x/A3x: A Disappointing Upgrade

Rovyvon is a Hong-Kong based flashlight company that originally made waves in the flashlight-world with their Aurora keychain-flashlight series. With each model to enter the series, which now spans no less than ten, small improvements have been slowly added.

When I initially saw these lights popping up on Amazon, I was somewhat dubious of both the build-quality and performance. On those fronts, I think that Rovyvon has proved me wrong. For a production flashlight, and having held close to a dozen different Rovyvon’s, the quality control between models seems to be very consistent. I also don’t have a light meter, but the claimed output numbers seem on-point to my eyes (at least right at start-up).

The A2x and A3x are upgraded models of their predecessors the A2 and A3, there is zero distinction between the A2x and A3x themselves other than the build metal. The A2x (Stainless Steel) retails for $36.99 and the A3x (Aluminum) for $29.99 and can be purchased here. There are also two LED options available, Cree XP-G3 and Nichia 219C. Just take my word for it and go with the Nichia 219C: It’s plenty bright, and because of heat constraints, the light steps down quickly anyways. Introduction aside, though, let’s analyze how these guys fare relative to not only their predecessors, but also as standalone flashlights. For simplicity, I’ll refer to them collectively as the A2x/A3x.

Diving into the good stuff, Rovyvon has added a larger battery with about twice the capacity as the previous generations (runtime is noticeably longer just in-practice), fixed the annoying PWM (not gone completely but no longer visible on camera), and increased the max output. They’ve also revised the UI to something much cleaner. Overall, these upgrades have made what was already a decent keychain flashlight that much better.

Still a ways off the claimed 75 minutes, but acceptable in practical use.

The bodily design of the Aurora series, in general, is also very good. A variety of retention methods exist including a wrist lanyard, a friction clip, and standard keychain carry. If you’re using the light off of your keychain, it can tail stand and won’t roll. Size-wise, the A2x/A3x is diminutive even with the larger battery pack. This is a surprisingly versatile light for its small package. It’s worth mentioning, however, that they no longer include the ball-chain for neck carry or a spare rubber-plug for the USB port.

A new feature they’ve added is an indicator light at the switch. It’s always been there even on previous models, but now it’ll light up when the flashlight is low on battery. As the battery drains lower, the longer it’ll stay on – presumably this is a result of the battery’s voltage sagging. Although it might exacerbate the battery drain slightly, if you’re using this as your keychain flashlight, you’re going to notice it pretty quickly. This feature is a welcome addition IMHO, and it means that the light will always be ready to go when you need it to.

Those of you who have read/watched my reviews know that I don’t put much faith in beam shots. Anything you view on a screen isn’t going to translate accurately to real-life, and everyone’s perception of light is different. That being said, I’ll try and throw up some outdoor shots later on. The beam is a giant hotspot which is ideal for a keychain light. Furthermore, the Nichia 219C that Rovyvon is using is much closer to a true 4500K now, unlike the A8U which was closer to 5000K. I did notice that the color temperature on my A3x was slightly warmer than on my A2x, and I’ll chalk that up to bin variance.

The original Auroras had a UI that went Low-High-Medium similar to the driver used by Lumintop on the Tool series. This is a garbage mode group setup, and it has since been revised to a better Moonlight-Low-Medium-High on the A2x/A3x. There’s also a hidden strobe mode always accessible from three clicks.

Here’s where things get ugly. Mode memory has been added if a mode runs over three minutes, but I find this undesirable for a keychain flashlight. Two taps will give you the last-used mode (with Moonlight as default); however, Moonlight should ideally always be two clicks. Moonlight will most always be used in the dark when your eyes are night-vision adapted. Having the chance to potentially blind yourself with another mode is not pretty, and neither is manually setting the memorized mode to Moonlight (and subsequently running it in for another three minutes) if you’ve already run another mode for over three minutes. That aside, progressive taps from two taps will cycle the outputs. Holding the switch from “on” will turn-off the flashlight.

The charging port on the Aurora series hasn’t changed. It’s still Micro-USB, and it hurts to see. It’d be nice to get some sort of USB-C action in the flashlight world considering that much of the tech industry has shifted to the more universal port, but I digress. At least they include a Micro-USB cord if you don’t already have one. And for what it’s worth, the Rovyvon charges quite quickly with a claimed 70 minute charge time.

Something else that’s quite ugly, though, is the significant step-down on Medium and High because of the blazing outputs. If you look at the graph on Rovyvon’s site (kudos to them for their honesty), you’ll see that the output dips drastically after the first minute. For the High, this isn’t that big of a deal considering that a long-press defaults to momentary High and most people only use their keychain light briefly. But for Medium, it’s a concern that I want to delve into further.

The main issue with the Aurora series right now, in my opinion, is the mode-spacing: It’s atrocious. You’ll notice that the flashlight goes from 15 lumens on Medium to 260 lumens on High – this is an enormous jump of over a dozen magnitudes. The jump is disconcerting enough to make me squint my eyes, especially in the dark, from the sudden glare. Furthermore, the difference between 260 lumens and the max 450 lumens is barely perceptible, and all of this is coming at the expense of precious runtime.

Also, as I noted earlier, most people only use their keychain lights briefly, such as when something is dropped behind a desk. Users will deviate to using High (450 lumens) over Medium (260 lumens) because of how the user-interface has been set up; a long-press will give you instant access to High as opposed to cycling through several clicks to get to Medium. Medium is effectively a useless mode right now, and it would be pragmatic if Rovyvon dialed down the output to something closer to 100 lumens (which the light can also hold at steadily). The rational behind the current mode-spacing is honestly perplexing, and I can’t wrap my head around it.

Something else they’ve changed – and not for the better – is the switch on the A2x/A3x. The original A2/A3 had a large, polymer switch that was proud and easy to actuate. But Rovyvon has replaced the original switch with a much smaller, circular one. If I had to guess, this was probably for aesthetic appeal (accidental activation was a never an issue in my experience because of the switch’s placement). The smaller switch is a pretty bad design choice for an obvious reason: A keychain light of this size is already quite small, and it will only make it more difficult to turn-on for users with larger fingers. In the cold, I could barely actuate the switch. And good luck if you’re wearing gloves.

As it stands, the “x” series that Rovyvon is implementing really feels like two steps forward and one step back. Some solid improvements have been made, and the A2x/A3x is no doubt superior to its predecessors, but only by a small margin. Your average consumer will probably never notice all these foibles, so I think it’s still a decent gift option. But it’s more disappointing than anything to think of what could have been. Those of you who have read/watched my reviews know that I held the Rovyvon A8U in high-regard (heck, my review is even on their official product page), I even gave it a B- ★ grade on my rankings list. With a few tweaks here and there, the A8U really could have been an ideal keychain flashlight, so I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for the A8x.

This is a classic example of well-intentioned, but ultimately detrimental “improvements”. I do really like that Rovyvon seems to be responsive to user-driven feedback. So hopefully, Rovyvon will implement the mode-spacing changes I outlined earlier. By no means do I think they’ll do it just for me, but I think that a majority of people will agree with my sentiments regarding the jump from Low output (15 lumens) to Medium output (260 lumens) and the mode memory. And psst Rovyvon: If you ever need some advice, I’m happy to help for free.

Grade: C+

Update 3/15/20

Anecdotally, the latest generation seems to have significantly more parasitic drain than the original models. I left my samples alone for about a month and they were dead the next time I picked them up. My A8X has been on my keychain for months and has exhibited no such behavior.

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