James A. Finley  /  AP
Energizer's "Quick Switch" flashlight can take C, D or AA batteries and works by merely adjusting a switch to the proper cell size.
updated 9/15/2004 3:48:35 PM ET 2004-09-15T19:48:35

Anyone who has cursed when their flashlight goes dead may have something new to beam about -- a flashlight that accepts batteries of different sizes.

Energizer argues that its Quick Switch flashlight is a shining example of utility, with users able to raid batteries from such things as remote controls, toys or wall clocks and plunk them into the flashlight.

Launched nationally last week, two truckloads of the flashlights already have been hustled to Florida, where consumers bracing for the third recent hurricane to rake the state have been stocking up batteries, in some cases depleting supplies.

Still, "we weren't planning on launching this in the middle of the hurricane" season, Energizer's Mark Larsen said Tuesday.

The Quick Switch takes two C, D or AA batteries and works by merely adjusting a switch to the proper cell size, automatically locking the batteries into place.

The light output is the same no matter the cell size, though operating time will vary. It retails for $9.99 to $12.99.

The gizmo is the latest entry in the often look-alike arena of flashlights, the Quick Switch "solves the No. 1 consumer concern with flashlights -- it never seems like I have the right batteries when I need them," Larsen said.

A spokesman for Energizer rival Rayovac declined to discuss the Quick Switch, saying he hadn't yet seen the product. But he suggested that the Quick Switch may be an extension of some available "battery adapters," which convert a smaller battery size to the next size up.

The Quick Switch spotlights just how the flashlight has evolved light years since its inception more than a century ago as a "hand torch," then primitively made of crude paper and fiber tubes, with a bulb and rough brass reflector.

With flashlights then more of a novelty, folks did what they knew best to search in the dark -- grab a candle or kerosene lantern, knowing the possible downsides were seeing their homes and offices accidentally go up in flames.

There wasn't battery power strong enough to power it for long stretches, and carbon filament bulbs were inefficient. So users pushed a button to literally -- and for a moment -- "flash light" on the path in front of them, giving the devices their name.

Since then, the flashlight became ideal for more conventional uses, with its size and shape morphing as batteries became smaller and stronger.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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