If an incredibly low price isn’t an obvious enough tip-off, here’s a surefire way to tell a cloned product from the real thing: In a lame effort to “prove” that the fake has been through some sort of rigorous quality-control process, it usually carries at least one official-looking label to that effect. Take this $20 clone of the $270 U2 SureFire Ultra LED flashlight, which is one of the toughest and brightest flashlights out there. The clone is the one in front with the gold “Q.C. Passed” label on its bezel. Of course, there’s other telltale signs that this Chinese-made light doesn’t come close to the real thing, as Craig Johnson, operator of the website www.ledmuseum.org, a site devoted to all things LED (including some highly entertaining reviews of LED-based products), discovered on closer inspection:
This clone of the SureFire U2 Digital Ultra looks pretty convincing on the outside, but you’ll soon find that the selector ring at the base of the bezel does not do anything – in fact, it does not even move. The unit has a tailcap switch that allows two intensity levels. And it is not hard anodized; it appears to have a Type II anodize finish, as it failed “The Knife Test”… Also, the rather beefy pocket clip found on the real thing is absent from this clone. But the unit does have a real glass window (or “lens”), and is water-resistant – though there is some leakage around the tailcap switch. As far as I’m able to determine, the light comes from a Luxeon III LED near the bottom of an almost mirror-smooth reflector, and the unit is powered by 2xCR123A lithium cells.