Picoreview: the Joi is much better for light. But the HLC has its good points. If I were to buy a third, I'd buy another Caframo Joi for the light. But I'm glad I have one HLC, if just for the charging ability.
Below is the longer review I wrote up on Amazon. As usual, larger photos on my Flickr photostream.
This is a really versatile device - far moreso than the Caframo Joi lantern. The flame-chargable battery is great (so far) and the ability to run off of the internal battery for light is pretty handy too. Sure, the point of these devices is to run off candles rather than battery, but it's nice to have both options. And the HLC is 40% cheaper, looking at the current prices.
Still, I've discovered that there is one main area where the Joi outperforms the HLC. Obviously, for flexibility, the HLC wins. The Joi has no USB port, no external device charging, and no battery. And while the HLC's smaller candle holder makes many common candles not fit, how many do you need, really? Order one bag of appropriately-sized candles and you're done. (Also, you can easily modify the Ikea candle holders to work, and then shave their candles down to fit that smaller holder, and then those candles work fine too. It's not really an issue.)
But the Joi's light output is better. It's both brighter and provides better colour rendering (higher apparent CRI*) than the HLC. I can't come up with actual CRI numbers, because I lack the equipment for that, but I can set the lanterns up side by side with identical candles in a blacked-out room over colour reference sheets, and the result is pretty revealing.
I've attached photos; the Joi is on the left, the HLC is on the right. The two candles are identical (Ikea), except the one in the HLC has been shaved on the edges a bit to fit in the smaller candle holder. Both were prepared according to lantern-maker's instructions, and allowed to run for a couple of minutes to get up to full brightness. This first picture shows the setup I used, with the white backdrop (to block light from the candles) and the divider (to keep the two light sources from mixing and muddling the results). Other than this setup photo, where room lights were on, all pictures were taken in a windowless room, with all other lights off:
The Setup. The Joi is already lit, HLC hadn't been lit yet.
The first thing you'll notice is the colour temperature difference. That's a matter of taste; warm vs. cool light isn't "better" or "worse," but personal preference. I use both in different situations. The photo isn't really rendering either side of the divider completely as you'd see it in person; the camera was trying to make guesses about what 'true white' was, and I didn't want to modify the photo to cheat the result. The Caframo Joi isn't as reddish at it looks in this photo; the HLC is actually a little cooler in person than seen here, but is well within the range of "cool LED" as found in most battery-driven LEDs online. I own battery LED light devices which are cooler. I think the camera tried to warm the entire photo a bit, so take that photo as an example of contrast. It's quite obvious.
Both sides powered by candle. I have powered-by-battery also, it's no different.
Leaving temperature aside, the Joi's total light output is meaningfully greater, even with fewer LEDs in the array. That was true both with the HLC being powered by candle or by pre-charged battery. (I didn't see a difference in the light output between the two power sources in the HLC - which is good, I shouldn't.) That was a surprise; with the larger number of LEDs in the HLC lantern, I thought it would outperform the Joi there. Don't get me wrong, it's not dim, it's casting a good amount of light - but it's not as bright as the Joi.
The third picture is a stitch-together of two separate photos, both of which were colour and exposure matched with my phone camera. This really shows the difference in CRI between the two lanterns. The easiest place to see it, I think, is in Column 22, cells A through C. Even in an Amazon jpg, 22-A, B, C shouldn't merge together into a single colour like they do under the HLC; they're well distinct in person. Under the Joi, they are clearly different. Columns 5-8 show a greater richness under the Joi than under the HLC, as well, even after exposure and white-level matching.
Colour- and exposure-matching done by the phone; I didn't want my subjective impressions involved.
I don't want to say that the HLC is performing badly here - it's not. It's actually doing quite a bit better than most of my battery-powered emergency LEDs. But the Joi is outperforming it.
So it really comes down to a question of need: light quality vs. versatility. The HLC hits versatility out of the park. A 2000mAh battery should mean a good eight hours of useful light (based upon manual data), or a full charge on a lot of smartphones. That's super handy in an emergency, or just out camping. The ability to run it without a candle at all is great if you're having to move it around, or you want to use it in a room with small children during a blackout, or keep it running as a nightlight or something while you go to sleep.
But for overall light quality, the Joi is the clear winner. It's more total light, the output is across a wider frequency range meaning you have better colour rendering. It's particularly better in reds, without losing out in the blues and greens. I suspect but do not know that its heat exchanger array is more efficient; when I blew out both candles, the Joi stayed lit for much longer than the HLC.
If you have the money, get one of each. I like this, even if I don't like the light as much, and I'm someone for whom that matters, which is why it's 4 of 5 and not 5 of 5. But if not, or if you want a third - well, that's up to you. HLC for versatility, Joi for quality of light.
*: For those who don't know what CRI/colour rendering is - it's how well do different colours show up when illuminated by a light source, more or less. You can make a light look white to the eye with only three really specific frequencies coming out of the bulb - but all the colours in the room will look wrong, despite the "white" light. A lot of early compact florescent bulbs were terrible about this, as are a lot of battery-powered LED lamps even today.
ps: Separately, my HLC arrived a little bit out of alignment; temporarily loosening the top screws let me push it back to square, which also made the door easier to latch. I'm not frankly sure anybody else would've noticed, it was a small misalignment, but hey, I'm the person who pulls out colour charts to compare emergency and camp lighting, of course I noticed. XD