UCLEAR Helmet Communicator HBC120 Snow Review
Last week GeekAlerts introduced you to the UCLEAR HBC120 Snow Helmet Communicator, and you’ve already read about the HBC100 Communicator, so this week we are going to give you a review of the HBC120 Snow. If you are not familiar with helmet communicators, you have nothing to worry about. UCLEAR provides good directions and their setup is pretty straight forward assuming you know how to use your Bluetooth capable phone.
Once the package containing my review sample was opened, I inspected the included components for quality and craftsmanship. As far as I could tell, everything was good working order and the quality seemed solid. The kit comes with everything you’ll need except a Bluetooth phone. While I’ll admit I didn’t get to the slopes this weekend, I did test the setup on a helmet for fit and finish and audio quality. I had no problem setting it up and the included extension cord worked fine although I didn’t need it for my configuration.
The included Velcro patches fit well in my helmet and the ear speakers securely fasten to them. This is high quality Velcro, you don’t need to worry about the speakers going anywhere even if you take a big tumble or two…The kit is also snow and rain resistant (-4°F to 140°F) which gives you peace of mind as some of us tend to get a little wet on the slopes. There are two mounting straps and one metal mounting bracket with double sided tape for use when you are ready to secure the HBC120 communicator control unit. For my helmet I choose one of the Velcro straps, but any of the three should work well.
Once the gear was in place on my helmet, I needed to pair my phone to the communicator. This was as easy as just pressing a few buttons on the communicator and going through a few steps on my phone. Blinking LED lights indicate when the connection is complete on the communicator and your phone will probably tell you as well. The next thing to check was the sound quality and this is where the HBC120 separates itself form the rest of the field.
You might have seen other communicators on the market, but it is UCLEAR’s four stage patented digital microphone array that sets the HBC120 Snow apart from all others. I found the audio to be very clear and boomless even with some gusty winds blowing through the helmet. The patented advanced digital signal processing technology really does work well and I can see why this is the same technology that the military uses.
- Stage One: Our patented” Adaptive-Beam Forming” algorithm is used to optimize the SNR of the wanted signal and continue to track the user’s voice within the Sweet Spot Area. This ensures that the signal taken in by stage 1 is high in desired signal as noise and interference free as possible.
- Stage Two: Adaptive Interference-Cancellation” is performed in this stage, to suppress man generated noise. As man generated noise contains directional information, the array is able to identify those noise sources as outside the ‘sweet zone’ thus cancelling them. The cancellation is done by adaptively creating a ‘null’ or ‘dead spot’ in the direction of each identified noise source.
- Stage Three: This stage of the signal processing primarily resolves the natural noise sources and other non-directional noise source induced into the desired audio information. These noise types are diffused or otherwise lack directional information. They would be identified and suppressed dynamically along with the signal level of the induced natural noise in the frequency domain. Also performed in this stage, is some form of signal recovery to the wanted signal information, speech enhancement, before outputting the final processed signal.
- Stage Four: Together, these technologies produce astonishingly levels of noise suppression and interference cancellation never achieved before. The result of processing different types of noise by different intelligent adaptive processes layer by layer, as opposed to a single juncture cancellation, results in superior quality of the desired voice and greater suppression of unwanted noise being delivered. The resultant suppression of unwanted noise sources by the Digital Microphone Array with DSP processing is on average 24 dB and may go as high as 30+dB.
The HBC 120 allows you to make calls, listen to music, use voice commands for call pickup, and have helmet to helmet intercom (with second unit), all with the simple click of a button. I found the communicator very easy to use and once your get used to the position of it on your helmet or gear, you can click away like it is second nature.
I know some of you may be wondering about battery life. Honesty, it was never an issue for me. I only charged the communicator once for the entire review and the UCLEAR website states that you can have up to 10 hours of talk time and 2 weeks of standby time on a single 2 hour charge. That should be more than enough for most slope riders out there.
HBC 120 Features:
- Compatible with most Bluetooth devices, Make mobile phone calls, Listen to music (AVRCP A2DP), Voice command for calls pickup, Helmet to Helmet Intercom (Requires second unit)
- Auto Loudness Adjustment, Patented Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Technology, Snow and rain resistant (-4°F to 140°F), High quality speaker to ensure clarity in noisy conditions
- Easily Installs, One-Touch Mute Feature
Overall from my limited time with the HBC120 Snow, I would have to say this is going to be one of the better products on the market at this price. It has the cutting edge digital microphone array technology that has been used by the military and is sure to offer great sound even in the harshest of conditions. The fit and finish were great and the parts all seem to be of high quality. I would think that most users will find the setup quick and easy to follow and should be on the slopes with their HBC 120 Communicator in no time. If you are in the market for the latest in communicator technology for the slopes, make sure you check out the UCLEAR HBC 120 Snow.