User Review: Princeton Tec Byte
Source: bought it new
There's a lot of bang for the buck, but be aware of problems.
- Short battery life
- Slightly awkward angle adjustment
- Power button can be hard to find.
I picked up my Princeton-Tec Byte a while back, used it some, and gave it a hard test in the field this last weekend.
Overall I personally like it quite a lot. it's a great combination of cost/performance/features, but it has a couple downsides, which i'll cover over the course of the review.
I had to grade this one from a more complex standpoint than normal, because of both the positives and the negative.
First up: Weight. This little lamp is only a couple of ounces. while i've had lighter headlamps, this one is down there on the weight scale. it's light enough i fell asleep with it on and didn't have any complaints. the elastic strap is generous and comfortable as well, but could have a slightly firmer adjusting slide on it. score 4/5 for the Byte.
Second: Features: This little guy sports not just an easy to work-even-with-gloves-on switch, but three light modes and an angle adjust that you can do one-handed(though it's a touch stiff). cap this with an easy to remove headband and the ability to hang it from the strap of a trekking pole(nice if you're like me and use your trekking poles as tent poles). the easy to work switch is not exactly prominent however, and can be a pain to find sometimes. 4/5 for the Byte.
Cost: This is one of the best-priced headlamps I've seen in a long time that wasn't a chintzy strap-on flashlight. i paid 20 bucks cash, and you can snag them on sale for even cheaper. 5/5
Performance: this is a complicated point. the light itself is bright, clear, and focused well. even red-light mode is impressively bright. the light is also semi-smart, and will not enable a light mode that it doesn't have the power for. if battery voltage is too low it won't go to high-power white-light mode, and presumably won't go out of red-light( i don't have the patience to test this).
However, the short battery life in storage is quite an issue. as it turns out, this is in fact a known issue for the maker, and they have no fix at this time. on my own lamp this measured .65mA discharge, which depending on your battery means your light will not turn on after 4-12 days in storage, if you leave the batteries in. i myself, out of habit, remove batteries from lights before storing them, but i freely admit it's not a standard practice.
Performance, mixed bag. in-field it's a gonzo little light, but the battery drain issue is serious. 2/5 for the Byte.
That gives the Byte a whopping 15/20 points. averaged to a star rating, it shows up at 3/5. good, but not amazing. could be better, but it's pretty darn good.
I myself will be quite happily enjoying it, and if you take care with the batteries, you would, too.