Coolife Night Vision, thumbs up or down?
Having trawled the internet I have found little information on these little beauties, the Coolife IR Night vision binoculars. If I’m honest I have been looking at getting something along these lines for a while now. There are currently several brands within a similar price bracket, both the main competitors are well known by comparison. From the specs and look of these units they are the same but branded differently.
Actual night vision costs into the high hundreds to thousand of pounds depending on which generation you are looking to buy. This is well out of reach for most ordinary people and not something I can review at those prices. So lets get back to the real world, can an IR digital set compete against these high end sets?
First lets discuss what’s in the box. The IR Night vision binocular, a handy neck strap and case to carry them in. A bonus is the 32gb micro SD card and micro USB connection cable.
The neck strap just clips straight on nice and easy and seems robust enough for when they are swinging about. The carry case is also fit for purpose but does feel a bit on the cheap side. The case straps are attached to the side and one to the front, this allows is to be carried over one shoulder and keeps it from slipping down.
Now on the main piece the Coolife IR binoculars. They are a sturdy feeling unit with a bit of weight to match that. Not a true binocular in the normal sense though. The twin piece at the front is actually made up of an IR bulb and a large camera sensor.
The picture is then sent back to a screen inside the viewfinder. To keep costs down the screen is only a 240p 2.31 inch unit but is sufficient enough to view what the camera sees.
6 buttons control all the functions on the camera and are well placed and quite intuitive, it didn’t take long to get used to using them. Functions on the left are to increase the IR lamp brightness 1-7 levels, these also double up as the electronic zoom function on long press. On the right you have a toggle button between picture and video and a button to record or capture an image. Lastly are the centre buttons, one is a power button that works on long press so you don’t accidently turn the unit off or on. The remainder is the settings button which is self explanatory.
6 AA batteries are required to power the unit, I would recommend decent quality ones or rechargeable. Power is needed for all aspects of the IR Binoculars the unit it will not function without them. Using the IR lamp on its higher brightness will soon eat into the batteries, however I found setting 4 was good enough at lighting up areas even at distance. Range according to the specs is around 300 metres, due to electronic zoom distortion I would say they are useable up to around 150 metres with decent clarity. Even with the electronic zoom not being the best option for zooming the camera comes set at 3 times optical zoom which helps when viewing at distance. I tend to use the electronic zoom upto around 40% only if I really want to zoom further and this seems to to do the trick.
The camera unit on board is capable of taking pictures in VGA or at one million megapixels. As for the video it is far superior to the viewing screen and is able to produce videos up to 960p. This means videos taken and watched back on pc / youtube etc far surpass what you will be seeing in real time. The viewing screen is not perfect at this 240p resolution but is clear enough to see reasonably well. It was far better than I was expectation at this price point.
One aspect I like about the Coolife IR night vision is that it works as a good spotting scope due the the IR light picking up eyes quickly in the night. This unit will also work in complete darkness as it is self sufficient from the IR illumination.
All in would I say I am happy with the unit? Definitely yes at this price point.
Negatives are the weight of the unit and the internal screen resolution, it is also quite bright when turning off and causes your eyes take a moment to adjust back to the darkness. However, I have had a whole new world opened up to me at night time. Animals you would never know were around you are made visible. As far as gadgets go this gets the thumbs up from me due to its quality at a low price point. It does what it says on the tin and allows you to see quite well in to the dark. Great bit of kit.
If you are looking for a decent pair of infrared night vision googles that wont break the bank and perform at a decent level these may well be for you.