Alright… hello adventure riders and motorcycle enthusiasts! Today, I want to talk to you about the PackTalk Slim by Cardo, for which I’ve recently had the opportunity to conduct a thorough review of how the system works.
So I was given a unit to demo on my KLIM Krios helmet. This particular helmet had not yet been tested for compatibility with fitment. The Cardo folks just weren’t sure if it would work with my helmet, so they went out on a limb to see if it would.
I received the unit in the mail and immediately started installing it. The installation process was pretty easy with only a slight hiccup and that was getting the wire placement the way my nitpicking brain wanted it. What makes this different than the other units is the fact that it has a separate battery and communicator module. The communicator fits on the side of the helmet like any other unit, but is super thin and streamlined, while the battery module sits on the rear section of the helmet. This adds a superior balance, in my opinion, and makes it so much more comfortable to use while riding for extended times.
The unit fits very well with just a slight gap on the communicator module backside. I am willing to state that Cardo could just list the unit as compatible with the Krios helmet on their website, but I will leave that up to them.
My next step was getting it charged. Normally, I would update the unit with the latest software, but I wanted to test it right out of the box. I hopped on a plane and arrived in California. Once there, I jumped on a brand new BMW R2018 GSA. It took me less than five minutes to figure out how to pair my phone with the PackTalk Slim. I headed off and I spent four wonderful days riding around California to test out the unit in various terrains. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to take advantage of the DMC technology for communication with other riders. However, upon my return home, I was able to connect with my local riding group and take advantage of this feature.
While riding in California, I streamed music and took full advantage of the natural voice feature, which allowed me to say, “Hey Siri” for my list of full iPhone commands. It should also be mentioned that it works for “Hey Google” as well.
The battery life far exceeded my expectations. I went roughly a day and half between charges. The manual states that the battery will last up to 13 hours and I believe that to be factual. Perhaps if I was running with 15 riders on DMC, it might drain quicker, but I don’t ever plan on riding 13 hours in a day.
Another great feature is that you can have a private conversation with someone in your group using the PackTalk Slim. For example, I sometimes ride two-up and if we are connected with 13 other PackTalk units, I might want to have a quick private conversation with my passenger or perhaps someone else in the group. When the private conversation is over, we can hear and speak to everyone again with a simple click of a button. I’m also able to stream music to other riders or easily tune to FM channels in the area where I’m riding. The unit has universal connectivity, so if you are riding with a buddy who loves their Sena and another buddy who loves their eBay special, you can all be connected! No more hating on each others’ communication systems because they don’t pair.
The only downside I see, which is more of a personal issue, is that the Slim is unable to be switched to another helmet without a hassle. Since I ride multiple bikes and some helmets are used for specifics like Moto Vlogging or riding my dirt bike, I wish I could easily pop out the unit and pop it into another helmet. I should mention that I have four helmets, which is overkill, I know, but they are like underwear for me and somedays I just want some lace…
Overall, I’m extremely impressed with this unit and how easy it is to control the features. The learning curve is super fast unlike some of the other models. I will be keeping the Slim on my primary long distance touring helmet for sure!
Till next time ride safe and I will see you out on the road!
Posted in Gear Review & Thoughts and tagged #askforcardo, #bmwmotorrad, #motorcycle, #xladv, 2WheelAdv, Cardo, PackTalk, R1200 GS, R1200 GSA by admin with .
Today, I want to share about a long-term test review of the Scala Rider PackTalk by Cardo.
I’ve spent just over a year now riding with this unit to bring you a straightforward, no BS, hands-on opinion of what I think is cutting-edge technology.
I’ve tested the system in various climates and terrain. My goal is to provide you with an informative review that I hope will increase your knowledge of Bluetooth vs. DMC (Dynamic Mesh Communication) systems for your potential future purchases.
I initially purchased this product when it was just released to the market and had some firmware update issues. After a few updates, the system became more user-friendly.
Prior to buying this unit, I had a Sena SMH10, which failed me on my ride to Nova Scotia when water got inside the unit and eventually fried it. I also tried the 20S, but ran into a few problems and didn’t get much help from the customer service end to resolve those issues. I returned the 20S unit.
I then switched over to Cardo. Right off the bat, I noticed this unit had a lot going on. I mean really, this PackTalk could do just about everything for me besides maybe wash my bike. I was able to not only connect to multiple riders, but also to my iPhone, GPS, and music system seamlessly. Learning all these features didn’t come quickly, though. I had to watch many YouTube videos, make a couple of trips to the local dealership, and then finally make contact with a Cardo rep, Mike, at the BMW MOA Rally in Hamburg, New York. After a few back-and-forth conversations with Mike, I quickly learned how easy it was to use the system that initially seemed so difficult to learn, but was really just me overthinking it. Mike opened my eyes to the understanding of what DMC technology is, as well as the great benefits of having DMC vs. Bluetooth.
To put it in simple terms, DMC provides a seamless interaction between multiple units and has the ability to instantly connect riders when turning another unit on or coming within the range of an active unit. The more units you add, the stronger the signal and ability to cover greater distances. The exact opposite happens when using Bluetooth technology, as you are in a daisy chain and each unit you add weakens the signal.
I bought a second PackTalk unit for my wife. We took a quick trip to the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee, and got to experience the crystal-clear clarity of the system firsthand. When I still had my Bluetooth system, I would always experience some sort of interference or distortion when speaking with someone paired to the unit, and if we got separated, it was sometimes a painfully long delay before getting paired back up.
Seeing as how the PackTalk is a new unit, I had trouble finding other riders that also carried the system, and thus, I was never able to use the DMC technology to its fullest potential. I reached out to Cardo and told them about my Alaskan adventure. Cardo provided my group with four headsets to bring along for the experience so we could provide feedback, good or bad, upon our return.
Upon receipt of the four units, I made sure they were updated with the latest software, and I paired each unit to the pack leader (me).
What we initially noticed was that the system worked great when riders did not change or attempt to pair the units to other systems such as a phone or GPS. This was mostly due to the fact that they kept hitting the wrong pairing sequence, which would interfere with the primary pairing of the system. Once we recognized and corrected that minor setback, we didn’t have any further issues.
PackTalk is said to have a 5 mile range for up to 15 riders. While riding in Alaska, we were synced between three to five riders out of six total PackTalks on any given day. We never got to experience all six riders connected at once due to bikes breaking down and people getting separated or delayed. What I can tell you, and everybody in the group will agree, is that the more riders connected with the DMC headsets, the stronger the signal was, giving us a greater distance of area between riders.
When we only had two to three headsets connected with DMC, we could tell that the range on the units was reduced. I believe we were only at a range of approximately 3/4 of a mile with only three riders connected. When we were able to use four or five units, the distance/signal strength was noticeable greater.
Using the built-in radio, auto tuner was simple and straightforward. While traveling to different areas, 3 simple clicks on the unit allows the rider to search for the strongest signals in the area and automatically tune into those channels.
Everyone got to experience their PackTalk systems through many miles of continuous rain or “Dalton dirt.” Each day they continued to perform as designed without a hiccup. We averaged 10 hours of daily use with these units over a period of roughly three weeks.
Overall, everyone was pleased with the unit and I believe Cardo earned some more business from the trial.
Is it an expensive investment? Yes, but when compared to the competition, it’s worth the investment.
Keep leading the way with great customer service and technology!
Posted in Gear Review & Thoughts and tagged #communication, #motorcycle, Cardo, PackTalk, Scala Rider by admin with .