Cardo Packtalk Review
Just home from my second tour using the Packtalk System and I am just so impressed I wanted to share the experience.
I've used various systems in the past including Cardo back in Australia 20 odd years ago and most recently SENA here and never been completely happy with the performance. Either sound quality, clarity of communication or connectivity issues frustrated me.
The Packtalk unit with the antenna up which I now do always has a clear line of site effective range of around a kilometre on Bluetooth. Around half that without the antenna so if there's a few of you correctly spaced not enough at times particularly in the mountains. Sure you can hook up a group whatsapp chat through phone connectivity but then everyone's privy to everything and reliant on phone service. On Bluetooth you have the ability to have a private conversation between two in the pack. Handy between lead and sweep and also rider/passenger at times I'm sure.
This is where this thing pays for itself in one trip for me. Being in constant contact with customers and staff makes my touring time so much more cost effective. I had this feature with SENA also but as the communication wasn't as clear, particularly with the various language barriers here, I often didn't bother and spent photo and drink stops trying to catch up.
I was on a call with a long term customer nutting out an issue for 10 minutes or so yesterday before I mentioned I was on the bike and from his end he had no idea. Sorry thought you were in the office mate. Perfect!
Though I haven't done it as my phone is on the bars to control calls, voice command can also call specific people or access the internet exactly as you would directly with your phone.
Running my Spotify playlists through this has evolved my touring experience. Put on a live album and you feel like you've been to the concert. The JBL speaker system of the Black Edition is just so good. Again I've used many systems over the years but nothing like this.
Some will say but its dangerous because you can't hear other road users. If its loud enough thats true to a point but as its inbuilt in the helmet and not an in ear bud you do hear ambient noise. The sounds that matter like a horn as you do in a car with the stereo on. I can still hear my bike too so no adverse affect there either.
The ability to clearly communicate to my fellow riders upcoming hazards if for no other reason completely justifies the cost of this to me. Sand or gravel on the corner, the kid on the bicycle, the herd of goats. The ability to warn of the various changes in road conditions to following riders removes an element of risk. In the mountains particularly getting a group of riders around heavy vehicles safely can be very time consuming. Once I'm around the ability to communicate oncoming traffic makes all the difference to our safety, time management and enjoyment.
The kicker to all of this is the banter. It's great to be able to talk about what we're seeing. This is hard to explain until you've done it but strangers become mates over a days ride. Over a tour it just adds to the memories. There's no grey areas. We all know what's going on. What we are looking at. Where we are turning. When we are stopping. Simply I will never ride again without it.
HOW DOES IT WORK
With all these features you might think it confusing? This is in fact the simplest system I've ever used. Pairing is easy and immediate either on the unit or through a free app which I prefer. Phone calls take priority over everything and are private. Communication cancels music to low background but if your like me and start unconsciously breaking out into song everyone knows how bad you are. Apparently you can share what your listening to with others in the group also but I haven't used that feature yet. It probably does lots more but I'm a bloke and we like to work it out without instructions 😅
Charging is a mini USB plug in and will last a full day using all features.
It isn't cheap the Packtalk Black Special Edition with the JBL speaker system included which i have is 7M. I'm happy to fit it to your helmet. Done plenty now but it takes a bit the first time. We have Packtalk Bold also in a twin pack for 11M but the speakers aren't the same. Feedback from those that have it is good but I haven't used it. A JBL speaker upgrade and professional audio kit are also available for anyone wanting voice over commentary to their camera in real time.
We have systems at a quarter of the price also that do the same job but not at the same level.