I now have the full Anker lights collection (until Anker bring out another, sigh)
I got the LC40 first and loved its small size, durability and brightness, and bought two 18650B and a USB charger. I then got another LC40. Then the LC90. Then the LC130. These are quite different torches with pros/cons.
(all weights on low-cost kitchen scales so don't focus too precisely on weights)
We live in a region where we must be prepared at nil notice for total power outages lasting 7 days, so I have been slowly over last 5 years or so been phasing everything electronic to USB recharging and USB batteries, this at the pace of items naturally dying and deliberately replacing with USB input devices. This phased out laptops and use of NiMh (and before that NiCa) AA and AAA rechargeables and chargers. Combined with a USB output solar panel we are now at 7 days for 4 people without any electricity. Torches are part of that change, a total of 4 torches for 4 people. All our transport (cars, bikes) can make USB output so we can move around recharging, and a foldaway solar panel. A by-product of this is better portability, smaller luggage when flying, more backpack friendly, better for camping, etc.
Pros: Smallest, uses AAA or 18650B, lowest cost (for the torch or the torch plus one or two 18650B). With one 18650B fitted on my kitchen scales is 4oz. IP65.
Cons: not rechargeable by itself, it either uses non-rechargeable AAA or you must add an external charger for either the AAA or the 18650B (I link to a well reviewed one I own). Therefore more of an EDC (Every Day Carry) type where its small size suits keeping with you (more so in winter obviously). 400 lumens, fixed beam pattern. Not the IP67 of the LC130
Pros: brighter than the LC40. Focus adjustment. Built in recharger. IP65, same as LC40, less than LC130 IP67.
Cons: much bigger than the LC40. Weighs 8oz. To put that in perspective an 18650B is about 1.6oz, and so one LC40 with an 18650B inside and carrying 2 charged spare 18650B is 7.2oz, so you can carry LC40 with 18 hours of light for less weight than the LC90 6 hours (aside, the LC90 and LC40 have different strength beams but the same battery so surely the LC90 must last less than the LC40?). Not the IP67 of the LC130.
Pros: brighter still than the LC40 and LC90. IP67.
Cons: fixed beam. Very much bigger than the others. Weight 14oz. Correct, roughly speaking 3 LC40s with their each of 6 hours of light is less weight as one LC130 with its 6 hours.
To add to the weight/recharge point, a USB charger which can recharge two 18650B is 4oz, so for example carrying an LC40 with its fitted 18650B with another 18650B and the USB charger is 9.5oz, vs LC90 8oz and LC130 14oz. Hence in an off-grid away from home for days type situation, you'd be better off with two LC40 than one LC90 in redundancy, and if you did have periodic on-grid access to power, two LC40 with a recharger is still less weight than the LC130.
So in summary, which is best:
- LC40 where pocketability, cost is a must, think about if you carry a spare battery (no focus beam). More for off-grid where carrying spare batteries is less weight than carrying the added weight of built-in recharger.
- LC90 where a focus beam is useful, and/or simplicity of simply plugging into USB.
- LC130 where more water resistance and sheer more total light in one beam (which you cannot focus).
Prices are obviously variable, country specific, I quote if you are in USA and in no particular rush to buy and so get the discounts as they arise, for example the 18650B seem to have gone up in cost through the winter I quote from last autumn:
- LC40 $8
- 18650B $4 each for 3400mah, if you buy in bulk
- LC90 $22
- LC130 $43
- USB charger $13
Hence for example 4 LC40 + 6 18650B + 1 USB charger = $69 and you'd have a complete system for 4 people where you proactively rotate through all torches keeping their fitted batteries charged and always have 2 charged batteries ready. 4 LC90 = $88, 4 LC130 = $172.
In a group of people, you could all have a LC40 individually and if you needed to illuminate one object all 3 of your could point their LC40 at one spot and get a brighter light than the LC90 or LC130 and you could recharge them "to the side" via a separate USB charger (which could be recharged off solar, etc).
So there is no best, it is as usual "it depends".
In our family, now its between the equinoxes in summer we're much less wanting to carry a torch but in general the LC40 are kept in bike bags on bikes as backup torches in event of primary bike light failure. If anyone needs a pocket torch, they get one from their bike. The LC90 is more of the "walk the dog" torch where beam focus covers seeing and being seen (literally, drivers just drive into you!). The LC130 i'm not sure what it is for, but it gets us to 4th torch and I'm sure we'll find what it is best for by this time next year - say "find the dog!"
I may gift a torch to a family member, then I'll decide what to add next.
Beam patterns, taken with cellphone which will adjust to average the exposure so do NOT look at their relative brightness as it is false, these are only to show the relative beam pattern.
LC40 beam pattern:
Observe is focused with some light spread.
LC90 beam pattern - focused:
LC90 beam pattern - spread:
Observe how the act of spreading leaves a dark center.
LC130 beam pattern:
The camera and the eye see this different, the eye sees much less of a central bright spot, or a continuum. What the eye sees is really the LC90 offers either a central strong beam or a wide beam, while the LC130 offers both. Given the eye reacts to brightness, you're more likely to see everything with the LC130 given its more even spread, while the LC40 and LC90 in focus more is more likely to see further in one particular spot.
Example charger with 18650B:
Weights (low cost scales do not focus on absolute weights but relative weights)