Light & Motion Vis 360 - The Perfect Light (Almost)

When Light & Motion offered to send me a prototype of the VIS 360 “commuter” headlight, I didn’t think I could possibly become so smitten with such an innocuous seeming bit of gear.

The $169 VIS 360 is a winner in almost every single way (save one, which I’ll get to in a moment) and is now a permanent resident on my helmet as fall creeps ever closer.

The VIS 360 is a rechargeable system with an unbelievably bright front light, side “markers” (lights that don’t flash) and a rear 4-lumen tail light.

My main headlight is a NightRider Pro 1400 LED, a dual-beam system that throws 1400 lumens at full power. The VIS 360 creates a beam that (thanks to the greater concentration of focus) appears brighter than the NightRider. While I wouldn’t use it as a rgular light for riding without streetlights”something I do with the Nightrider (and for the record not something the VIS is designed to do) it’s a superb light for the commuter, especially to fill in the dark patches and times when other lights fail.

As an example, I recently was doing an impromptu night ride when my NightRider, which I had been riding all week without recharging, gave up the ghost. I was able to ride home with the VIS 360 and felt comfortable the whole way. It’s also a great light for grabbing the attention of drivers. When I have a brighter light on my helmet and I turn to look at an approaching car, I often run the risk of blinding the driver. The VIS is bright enough to catch their eye but not bright enough to put that eye out of commission.

The rear flashing light isn’t the brightest light I own (that award goes to either the VIS 180, also by Light & Motion or the hellishly-bright Planet bike flashers I own) but it is more than sufficiently bright to be seen for great distances. Be aware that since the light is mounted to the helmet it shouldn’t be the only rear light”look left or right and you’ll turn the light away from cars behind you.

 

VIS360.jpg

Of course nothing’s perfect and in the case of the VIS 360 there’s one little issue that irritates me. The light is designed to be charged over USB instead of with an accessory adapter (yay!) which means that it’s possible to ride to work and plug the VIS in to one’s desktop to juice up for the ride home. The charging jack is the less-common Micro USB cable, not the standard Mini-USB found so ubiquitously on so many products. When I asked the company about this they said that the Micro USB is more common “on 2010 cell phones.” That might be the case, but anyone who uses an iPhone or an older phone won’t have this cable and anyone with one of these phones will likely be using the cable to charge their phone.

It also means that anyone who loses the Micro USB cable or forgets it at home can’t just grab one of the common Mini USB cables found on other phones, card readers, hubs, cameras, video cameras, hard drives and any of the other thousands of items with a Mini USB cable.

That aside the VIS 360 is a praise-worthy light that won’t let you down and more than lives up to the company’s claims.



5 Comments

Thank Apple for locking down the dock connector, and depriving you of a proper USB connection, anyway.

Down the road, but in the very near future, it would be annoying that the cable was mini-USB instead. Micro is the way forward, and an extra boot in that direction is the fact that it’s the universal standard for the EU.

As for me, I’m happy with the Nexus/Alfine + Supernova combination. You just push the button and it works.

Micro USB will eventually replace Mini USB. I bought a portable drive yesterday that uses Micro. It has a much tighter connection (feels better) than Mini and is rated for 10,000 connect-disconnect cycles vs Minis 5000.

Totally agree with the first two comments. Micro USB is the future and this is really not a huge deal.

I know why micro USB is *going* to be the future, however this product wasn’t released in the future. It’s available now, and is not a long-term investment like a set of high-end lights.

It’s not a deal killer, as I said it’s just an issue that irritates me, it doesn’t detract from my love of the light, but I’ve gone out with it dead on more than one occasion because I only own ONE device that’s micro usb, the light. (My other micro USB device was a Sanyo Xacti, but that’s long since died from too many drops off the bike.)

So to charge the light when I forget the cable means I have to go and get a new cable, or I have to wait till the future, when I have a lot of them laying around.

@champs - I do than apple for making the iPod cable different, because when they invented the standard it was a FireWire device, not USB. I was happy to have a small, thin cable that docks easily and has a mechanical connection to the device. Micro USB is great but it only relies on the friction of the connector to hold it into place, and that’s kept me from dropping the devices while charging a number of times.

Because of the ubiquity of that connector in third party gear I don’t really mind it. And when it comes to inventing standards, you can thank Apple for inventing FireWire and for cementing the adoption of USB with the iMac.

Are there any good HID-based helmet lights?
After a recent right-hook, I’m looking for something that will be unmistakable in a driver’s rear-view mirror.

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