Saturday, October 15, 2016

Litu CR3 review

We've seen a lot of new 3x3s out lately, especially the trio from Moyu. I thought I'd take a step back and look at a more obscure release from a more obscure company.



This is the Litu CR3, a new cube that is both pretty interesting as a cube and interesting as a release. 

Background info

The Litu CR3 is a new 3x3 released by a new player in the cube industry, Litu. Litu wasn't a cube maker before; rather, it seems they were a Taobao shop that made custom stickers and force cubes out of big cubes and other puzzles. They must have recently decided to jump into the 3x3 market and put out a new cube with a new design.

Only, it appears it didn't really go so well. They put a product listing up on Taobao (with an awful product picture) and it seemed for a short while, it was available for sale. Soon after, however, the color options were removed and replaced with a "Suspended Sales" option, and the price was increased to 999 Yuan - $150 USD. Basically, they don't want you to buy and if you do they won't ship. Even a few that were bought before the change were not shipped.

My guess is that as a new manufacturer their inexperience led them to some production issues. They claim that they should be able to ship the remaining orders sometime this month, so hopefully that means they can get back on track with production as well.

Packaging

I thought this deserved its own section because the packaging was, well, different. Instead of the typical cardboard box, plastic box of the GTS, or even the nice box/stand of the Gans cubes, we get this.


Isn't that adorable? The way the string sticks out from the top, the perfect positioning of the ears above the cardboard face - everything is just bunny themed. It's clever too; rather than including a bag awkwardly stuffed in the box (as in the case of the Thunderclap v)1 or just straight up giving up and packing a bag with the cube (as in the case of the Gans Air), Litu decided to turn the bag into the box. Much less awkward.

Just not sure what to do with that adorable paper wrapping.

Inside the box, er, bag, we get the cube itself and a cute little screwdriver.




Look and Feel

The Gans Air, a very light cube, is 73g. The Guanlong, which is even lighter and feels positively papery, is 66g.

This cube is 57g.

Wait, what?

After double checking the scale and my senses multiple times, I can say that, indeed, this is by far the absolute lightest modern standard sized 3x3 in the world. I practically don't feel it when I pick it up and I can actually blow it around without much effort.

Now, I absolutely hated the papery feel of the Guanlong. You'd think I'd hate this cube as well, right?

Surprisingly, no. I don't know how they managed to do it, but it feels far more solid than the Guanlong and almost as solid as some far heavier cubes, like the Thunderclap. The weight itself still makes me a bit nervous, but besides that the plastic feels fine.


Onto other aspects - the cube looks like a typical 3x3 nowadays, with squared off corners, bread edges, and a square but rounded center. It honestly doesn't look to different from a lot of cubes like the Yuexiao or the Valk, except that the stickers seem a tad smaller and don't cover as much of the piece.

The stickers use the Valk color scheme - pretty standard half bright with darker blues and more vibrant oranges. Nice. However, while I haven't gotten any chips since I'm fairly careful with my stickers, I'm guessing the vinyl used is of lower quality since there was a fair amount of adhesive residue on the outside of the stickers.

It's 56mm and makes a loud, swishy, clacky sound. Check out my video if you want to hear it for yourself.

Setup

Evened tensions, wiped lube, and lubed with weight 5 on the core and mixed weight 1 and weight 0.7 on the pieces. Being such a light cube, I felt light lube could bring out the airyness more.

Nothing too crazy. It didn't need too much setup, and didn't change much from setup.

I've done about 300 solves on it so far. A bit of the scratchiness wore away, but not all of it, and besides that it hasn't changed much with break in. It's possible that all of the scratchiness will wear away with time.

Turning

Being such a light cube, it does make sense that turning is very airy and has almost no momentum. Turns are instantaneous to start and stop. However, it isn't quite the fastest cube; while it is very fast, it's still a bit behind cubes like a loose Gans Air, and remains fairly controllable at its speed.

Turning is quite bumpy, especially if the layers aren't perfectly aligned (which happens a lot). There is some scratchiness left, but as I said it might wear away with even more time.

The big problem with this cube's turning is that while it's not too flexy, it's still very unstable and doesn't like maintaining a cube shape. It stays with two corners pressed together and does not spring apart again, which is quite reminiscent of what the Gans 356S and S v2 would do.

That instability causes no small amount of lockups, at least for me.


Corner Cutting

Max corner cutting: ~49 degrees
Effective corner cutting: ~42 degrees
Max reverse cutting: ~37 degrees
Effective reverse cutting: ~33 degrees

This cube does not full cut, sadly, and out of all of the recent cubes I've tested it's been the farthest from it so far - 3 degrees. Of course, in practice this is inconsequential, but it does stop it from earning a perfect score.

I will note that out of the box corner cutting was rather hugely inconsistent due to inconsistent tensions. There seems to be a very tight range of tensions where corner cutting is maxed out on this cube, and if you're outside that range the cube will either not cut or flex into a lockup.


Anti-pop and anti-corner twist

Anti-pop is fine, as is expected on any modern cube. However, this one does have a bit of trouble with corner twists. It's still more difficult to twist a corner on this cube than any cube without squared off corners, but it happened a bit during solves, and even worse, I didn't feel it happen. With practically any other cube, I'd get a bit of feedback that just indicated I had a corner twist, which wasn't present here.

More points off, I'm afraid.

Internals


We have a bit of an odd and cheap looking core here. While the design isn't exactly unusual, the core seems to be molded from the same lightweight plastic the rest of the cube is molded from, though in a matte finish. This contrasts with the typical nylon core of cubes of old or even the new blue or green Moyu/Qiyi cores.

It does make me question the integrity of the core, but it hasn't failed yet.


Very simple looking edge piece with a small edge base and a long, thin torpedo. Nothing unusual here.


Another simple corner design, even simpler than a lot of corners like the Valk or Yuexiao corners. The base is flat and thin, and is not unified as the Valk's or the Yuexiao's are, which is a shame because the unified feet does seem to help a bit.

Through the holes, I saw something a bit unusual. Take a look.



It really does seem like this cube was designed for weight savings in every way possible. While most cubes have huge friction fits that extend across the entire corner, this one just has two tiny pegs plus two more little pegs for alignment at the top and bottom. They can barely even be called friction fits; there isn't much friction.

Now, as a word of caution, it seems this cube really does not like having its corners disassembled. Despite the friction fits not having friction, the three corners were firm and took a lot of effort to pry apart, and there were a lot of snaps and pops along the way. The inside smelled rather strongly of acetone, so my guess is that they used it to melt the friction fits just enough to fuse them together, since they don't stay together on their own. This isn't a process you can easily replicate at home, so you'd have to find some other way to stick them together if you do decide to pry them apart.

Magnetizing potential and magnet placement

Yes, this cube can be magnetized, and because of its light weight I suspect it could change the feel quite a lot. However, keep in mind the difficulties I mentioned with disassembling the corner. It would take a lot of work to magnetize this cube and carry a lot of risk, since you'd likely break at least one corner and even if you didn't, you'd have to attach them back together.

Conclusions

Objective score: 6.5/10
Despite how excited I get about new and especially limited releases, I have to say, this cube wasn't the best. It's unstable which leads to a lot of lockups. Corner cutting really is fine but is still off from full cutting, which is needed for a perfect score, and corner twists happen with little indication that they did.

It's still not bad per se, which would be something like the MF8 Square-1 v3, but it's not good enough to earn a high score. Just an ordinary 6.5.

Subjective score: 4/10
I do not like this cube at all. It does luckily feel more solid than a Guanlong, but the weight still does make me nervous. It's far too unstable and has too much of a scratchy, bumpy feel while turning. 

The disassembly process is something else that draws ire with me, even though it may not be relevant to most. Glued pieces? Really?

My times gain roughly 4 seconds on this cube, and even going through the Ao100s I did with this cube to bring it to 300 solves was a bit torturous. It's going to become just a shelf piece and a novelty cube for "wow look how light this cube is".


You should buy this cube if:
  • You're a cube collector and want rare cubes
  • You want the lightest cube in the world
  • You like very unstable cubes
You should not buy this cube if:
  • You want a cube that has good performance
  • You want a solid feeling cube
  • You want a stable cube
  • You want a cube that feels smooth or clicky and not bumpy
Well, there it is. I guess it's my first formal critical review.

Despite my excitement for it, I did not like the CR3 at all, unfortunately. I'm still going to keep and cherish it since it was one of the first and as of today one of the only ever made, but I doubt I'll use it much or ever main it for some purpose.

No Speedcubeshop product link for you guys today, unfortunately. We'll have to see if the CR3 does end up getting past its production hurdle and making it into America. If you want to see more reviews like this, please consider using my affiliate link for anything else you might need! It helps me out a lot in getting more reviews out.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the final review of the new Moyu trio, the Chufeng!

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