Thursday, January 4, 2007

Stanley MaxLife 369 Tripod flashlight.
Six LEDs and 13-1/2 volts.
Made on Mars?

I readily admit to being a flashlight junkie. My cars and drawers contain enough battery-powered illumination to rival the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. I have a tiny one-LED light on my key ring, Maglites of all sizes, and a gazillion-candle-power searchlight that can spot enemy bombers approaching the coastline.

My newest light is a wierdo -- a unique light from Stanley that can be held like a conventional flashlight, and also transforms into a tripod-mounted trouble light. It seems to have been inspired by giant three-legged Martian mayhem makers in "the War of the Worlds."

It's the only light I've ever seen that works on 13-1/2 volts -- from nine 1-1/2 volt AA batteries (included) stowed in its aluminum tripod legs. Stanley says the batteries will provide over 200 hours of light, and a low-power indicator light flashes when your power is waning.

The head holds a cluster of six blue-white LEDs (that should last forever), but they don't all have to be on at the same time. A 4-position switch lets you choose Low, Medium, High or Off, and directs power from 3, 6, or 9 batteries, depending on your need.
  • When the tripod legs are spread apart (a button press releases a magnetic grip), the MaxLife 369 stands up by itself, and you can pivot the head into any of four positions to direct the light beam to change a tire or replace a hard drive. One preset position is slightly downward -- a nice idea -- for reading during a power failure or searching for a loosened plug in a dark corner.
  • In a black-out at home or a camping tent, you can aim the beam up to reflect off the ceiling and provide general illumination.
  • When the legs are "at rest," the MaxLife can be held like a conventional flashlight, to direct traffic or search for an earring or contact lens. The legs cluster around a cylinder of rubbery fins which position the legs and provide a good grip. When you press the "open" button, the spring-loaded legs pop out to stand up.
It sells for about $28 at Amazon, $22 at Wal-Mart, and $18 at Costco. A cool tool. Highly recommended!

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