Cardo Packtalk Edge Test [Prototype First Ride Review]

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So, like many cyclists, you rock a Bluetooth-powered intercom on your helmet for the myriad reasons cyclists do. You might want GPS directions, FM radio, online music services, listening to your smartphone’s music library, or talking to other cyclists via an intercom. You may be considering adding this accessory to your helmet. There are so many choices from countless manufacturers. You can shop by price, features or both. However, if you’re the type of buyer who wants the full experience, every option at a premium price, look no further than the new Cardo Packtalk Edge.Cardo Packtalk Edge Review: PriceThe Cardo Packtalk Edge is probably the most expensive unit available today and offers every possible feature known to mankind. I’ve been reviewing Bluetooth communication units for nine years and think the Edge is the great Kahuna of communication devices. I joined Cardo’s press launch at Roland Sands Design headquarters in Long Beach, CA. The band heard the pitch as Cardo techs installed the Edge unit in our helmets. We then set off for a drive from Long Beach to Santa Monica and Malibu, up into the Santa Monica Mountains, and back to the beach.Cardo Packtalk Edge Review: MSRPAll the while, our groups chatted on Cardo’s second-generation dynamic mesh intercom and, at the same time, I listened to music through the JBL speakers. When someone spoke, the volume of the music would automatically decrease so I could hear what was being said. The voice and music were crystal clear. The volume can explode the eardrums, so no complaints about a sound not loud enough. We were informed that the units we tested were prototypes and that the latest firmware update would be available at the end of April 2022.Therefore, I could not test the interface of the Cardo Connect smartphone application. I have the feature on other Cardo models and think that’s the best, especially if your phone is handlebar-mounted and accessible. The Cardo Connect app shows a screen with four large buttons for intercom, FM radio, music and phone. This makes navigating the device’s functions easier than most other brands, at least in the previous version. We will wait and see. The Air Mount system sets the Edge apart from other motorcycle helmet intercom units. The base attaches to the helmet and is similar to the ones you’ve seen before. Uniquely, the Edge magnetically mates to the base, locking securely, yet removing easily. Simply place the device on top of the stand and it clicks into place in a snap. The Edge has a sleek design, a low profile, and looks good.The Dynamic Mesh Intercom is a super easy one button connection for up to 15 riders with great sound quality and excellent range. It features auto reconnect, HD live Bluetooth intercom and universal Bluetooth intercom. This intercom has a claimed range of up to one mile; mesh groups have a claimed range of up to five miles. Cardo also claims that his speech recognition abilities have improved. Say “Hey, Cardo! Music on,” and it plays. Easy-to-use voice commands include Siri or Google Assistant. “Hey Cardo! Next track” and “Hey, Cardo! Volume up” are only part of the directory. It worked perfectly for me. Another feature that Cardo has introduced on Edge is over-the-air software updates. No computer or cable needed – your smartphone makes it possible. You can still update via computer and USB-C cable if you want. I haven’t tried this, as I’m waiting for the new firmware to test it.The unit is supposed to be waterproof, not just water resistant. Not exactly a concern in Southern California, but good to know. I doubt I’ll throw it in a bucket of water to test that claim. JBL high definition speakers have a diameter of 40 mm. Many manufacturers are jumping on the JBL bandwagon, and for a good cause. There’s awesome sound, and it’s louder than you’ll ever need, even at highway speeds on an unbalanced bike. Once the firmware updates, the Cardo Connect app should allow users to switch between audio profiles, such as Bass Boost, Vocal, and Volume High. The latter is perfect for riding at high speed with earplugs.I’ve installed 45mm speakers from another brand in my helmet before and found them barely fit in the speaker pockets. They were super tight so I think 40mm is probably a safer size for universal compatibility. I don’t hear a difference between the 40mm and 45mm speakers. Parallel audio streaming and music sharing are also available. I was able to listen to music and intercom at the same time. I didn’t have a passenger, so I couldn’t test music sharing. It’s not a unique feature. The Edge retains the universal Bluetooth connectivity feature which will connect to any other brand. Be aware that this uses the hands-free profile of the other device, so that person will connect but lose phone and music functions from their own phone. I don’t consider this feature a good feature and still hope that someday manufacturers will adopt full cross-brand intercom compatibility.Cardo Packtalk Edge review: communications with Bluetooth headsetThe FM radio function is retained. I haven’t tried it for this review and am waiting for the Cardo Connect option to use it. Other Cardo models make it easy to set up and use with the Cardo Connect app. It has a function to find stations, and there are six user-configurable station presets. Cardo claims fast charging with 20 minutes of charging, giving you two hours of battery life and less than two hours for a full charge. The claimed talk time is 13 hours, 10 days standby. I loaded the unit; it took about an hour because the battery was partially charged. The Edge has adopted a USB-C charging port and cable, like many new units on the market. The Cardo Packtalk Edge features the latest Bluetooth 5.2, which is known for its excellent battery life and other technical improvements. The antenna is now integrated, so the pop-up antenna is gone. Operation with the intercom is perfect. I can’t confirm if it’s as good as the pop-up models for FM reception.Two channels allow the Edge to connect to a smartphone and GPS simultaneously. This is a cool feature that has been around for a while. A three-year warranty is good and always comforting, especially considering the Edge’s price. The Cardo Packtalk Edge is priced at $390 for a single unit and $700 for a pair. This is the most expensive unit on the market, although I think you get what you pay for. From what I’m able to test and anticipate in the app, it looks like the new Cardo Packtalk Edge, while not revolutionary, is a solid piece of kit. The Packtalk Bold and Slim units will continue to be available for $340 each.

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