As we prepare to head off to CES 2013, we are taking the time to think through the gear we are bringing along. One piece of unplanned kit that will be making the trip to Las Vegas comes from BlueWi, a subsidiary of The Earphone Connection. The Nighthawk Bluetooth Microphone Combo is a Bluetooth adapter system that has been used by law enforcement, but it is now making its way into the consumer market thanks to its sturdy build and flexible convenience.
The company describes the Nighthawk Bluetooth Microphone Combo as “the ideal tool to meet the demands of the power user who is constantly on the go and needs a Bluetooth earphone solution that can keep up with the demands of their ever-changing environment”. And while any claim that something is “the ideal tool” is suspect in my mind, I have to admit that my initially negative impressions – more on that shortly – have given way to a good degree of positive thinking about the Nighthawk. And I’m not alone thinking so, as the Nighthawk was named a CES 2013 Design and Engineering Honoree.
Here’s a look.
Let’s get this out of the way right up front — the Nighthawk is far from the most refined piece of electronics to cross our paths in recent memory. It is not intended to be a beautiful piece of eye-popping industrial design but, instead, is meant to simply work.
And while the two — fine industrial design and rugged build — aren’t mutually exclusive, it is indeed rare to find both in equal measure in a single device.
The kit comes with the Nighthawk, a manual, an ear bud, an external speaker attachment and a wall charger. The carrying case is quite nice!
The Nighthawk can be used as a Bluetooth interface that lets you be handsfree on the go. For example, you can plug in the included earbud, clip the main device to your lapel and go handsfree. A microphone built into the main unit will pick up your voice while the earbud will feed you the audio. Then, when driving, you can take the device, plug in the external speaker unit and clip it to your visor.
In short, the Nighthawk can be a handsfree Bluetooth for private calling OR a handsfree speakerphone.
This kind of flexibility is nice… but not totally uncommon. It would not incline me toward the purchase of a Nighthawk over some of the other Bluetooth devices we have reviewed. Where the Nighthawk stands out, and where we will be using it at CES, is for shooting audio and video with a mobile device, thanks to the special video app that will take video while capturing audio from the Nighthawk. The new videos are then saved to your camera roll and available for later processing. Why is this advantageous?
Long use time. The Nighthawk offers 12 hours of talk time. That is more than double the average 5.5 hours most in-ear Bluetooth devices provide. And while video capture will offer less battery life, even half of the 12 hours will be enough for recording on the floor of CES.
Clarity. The Nighthawk can be worn on the chest with the microphone pointed in the direction of the mouth. This reduces ambient noise and enables transmission to be heard clearly. In addition, a preamp inside the Nighthawk allows for optimal speaker output.
Operation Range of 10 Meters. While shooting video with a mobile device the Nighthawk can be up to 10 meters away. That means, for example, we can hand it to someone and capture both good quality video and clear audio even in a noisy convention hall.
Carly plans to do a good number of quick interviews from the convention hall, and this promises to be an excellent solution for her while doing them.
The Nighthawk Bluetooth Microphone Combo System will be available beginning January 2013 with an MSRP of $119.99. The Nighthawk will be available at www.bluewi.org and online retailers and distributors.
What I Like: Rugged; Flexible use-scenarios; Long better life; Bluetooth headphone, speakerphone and interview microphone
What Needs Improvement: Far from the most aesthetically appealing Bluetooth solution we have reviewed
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample