Barry Beams Oculus

This is one of the few products that have got me torn. On the one hand its a great light – on the other, the creator can be such a dick!

The Good

Bicycle lights have one purpose and one purpose alone – which is to illuminate the road… and I think the photo below speaks for itself:

That’s up to [a marketed] 1500 lumens on a single 26650 battery being impressively dispersed – which makes for an extremely usable light. It clearly is even better than a stock motorcycle lamp – and my sense is if it’s better than a motorcycle light, it definitely is good enough for a bicycle light 😛

I also like how it can run on regular lithium ion batteries 1 That was one of the features that made me want to back it and not require you to spend so much on a proprietary battery pack like the other bicycle light manufacturers usually do. And the running time is impressive as well; I left it at the lowest setting (which is still pretty bright) overnight, and it was still running the next morning.

The Bad

Cosmetics

I’m going to be honest, this has got to be one of the ugliest looking bicycle lights I’ve ever come across. I mean seeing the packaging already should’ve given me an inkling of what to expect.

Apart from the screws and electronics It was mostly made of specialized plastics – but the paint on the heatsink was already wearing off right off the box. By the looks of it he’s using two types, and the clear one seems to be plain acrylic. If it’s not then it’s not doing a good job in being “indestructible” because I accidentally pushed it from my desk (approximately 3ft) and it cracked – can’t imagine what would happen if you crashed on a bike with it, it might just break off the handlebars.

Also, the battery compartment didn’t have any locking mechanism other than two posts that were to be secured by one of the provided o-rings.

Batteries

Upon reading the manual, there seemed to be a few gotchas that limit what was supposed to be the very feature that made it appealing.

For example, this is marketed as being able to use a “generic” 26650 battery, what the marketing pitch didn’t tell you was that you can’t just use any 26650 battery – lest you risk damaging the electronics. While I’m all for recommending quality batteries, I wish he took into account how normal users who aren’t savvy about different kinds of what seems to be the same battery – and built the electronics that would at least handle what a typical joe would buy from the nearest available store.

I mean to begin with, 26650 batteries aren’t as ubiquitous as your regular A, AAA, D, etc., now you have to be looking for a specific type of 26650? And conveniently, he sells the cells that are recommended for the light. Sure, nothing wrong with that, but making the customer feel that they can use any 26650 battery – then practically having them find out that they risk damaging your light if they use anything other than the cells you provide is a bit disingenuous.

I’m sure most if not all consumers would’ve preferred that it worked with any 26650 battery – and any lack of power or capacity would merely mean less output or runtime – not the risk of damaging the light.

Charging

Same goes with the built-in charging circuit: the “special” adaptor that came with it 2 Which seems to be your run of the mill china made one practically outputs low current 5V – which is essentially USB voltage. Again, it’s not advisable to use it with a regular USB port lest you risk damaging the circuitry 3 Because the electronics may not handle the transients generated by the higher amperage chargers – which are basically most modern day USB chargers, hubs, & outlets.

Again, USB charging is so common today that it would’ve been better to just have it handle USB. Even the generic knockoff stuff sold in our country (CDR-King) work fine with regular USB specs, and here we’re supposed to believe that this clever little light couldn’t handle something so common without risk of damaging it?

Amazon and Attitude

So I included these issues on an Amazon review as they were valid criticisms. They didn’t in any way detract from the performance of the light. The light delivers as it should and does it well, but these were areas that clearly could be improved.

Instead of accepting constructive criticism (as I practically had enumerated how to make the light better), Mr. Barry became defensive, messages me privately to take the perfectly valid review down and even threatened to get my Amazon account terminated because I had posted a review of a product that technically wasn’t bought from Amazon – which technically violated their ToS.

He’s actually right – I didn’t get it from Amazon. But while I have seen numerous reviews of other products by people who brought the products elsewhere 4 I’m pretty sure I was safe from his threats but hey, I wanted to be fair. What’s more is that us Kickstarter backers had received what essentially were prototype units – so I would assume the commercial versions should have been much improved.

In the spirit of that possibility, I took the Amazon review down in good faith5 I even let him continue using the comparison shots I made to help market the product… and am doing the review here on my blog instead.

I’ve made the necessary disclaimer that what I have is indeed a prototype unit, based on his arguments, one would hope that the units being sold in Amazon have these issues addressed. Because if not, how different are they from the prototypes (apart from being sold at MSRP)? – if they turned out to have the same issues I mentioned – that would be an amusing way to be vindicated.

Final Thoughts

You know, I really don’t mind that the light had its limitations. It still was a feat of engineering to get it as small, light, bright, and long lasting as it was – and I wasn’t remiss reminding people (as I am now) of that – the criticisms were supposed to be constructive.

What put me off was the fact that in his defensiveness – he started giving me attitude like he was offended that I didn’t see his light the way he did. If I were to distill his arguments, it basically was that he simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) accept any criticism of it because he accomplished some great thing. Well, let me tell you Mr. Barry, even if you had made something great – it doesn’t mean you made something perfect. FAR FROM IT.

Criticism/feedback exist so products can be improved. It’s still your choice if you want to do it or not – and nobody would take it against you as it is your right as the manufacturer.

But don’t go pretending that you made this perfect thing that entitles you to nothing but praise. I’m telling you your light, as great as it is, has its flaws. It’s up to you whether you want to take that feedback and make it better, or leave it flawed. The market will ultimately decide which approach works best.

Pros

  • Brighter than average
  • Good spread
  • Great runtime
  • Small & Light
  • Limited lifetime warranty 6 Unless you piss him off, I guess LOL

Cons

  • Doesn’t work with regular USB (even if the voltage of the plug is USB spec)
  • User has to be extra careful when choosing 26650 batteries for it
  • Creator doesn’t respond well to constructive criticism
  • Plastic casing not as “indestructible” as marketed

You can purchase the Oculus @ Barry’s Amazon Webstore. Someone, please buy it and let me know how the commercial units fare against this prototype I have.

Notes   [ + ]

1. That was one of the features that made me want to back it
2. Which seems to be your run of the mill china made one
3. Because the electronics may not handle the transients generated by the higher amperage chargers – which are basically most modern day USB chargers, hubs, & outlets.
4. I’m pretty sure I was safe from his threats
5. I even let him continue using the comparison shots I made to help market the product
6. Unless you piss him off, I guess LOL

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