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BACtrack Vio: Making it easier to be a responsible drinker

BACtrack Vio pocket breathalyzer

Back in May I tested the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer (US$149.99), a handy little Bluetooth connected device that works with an iPhone app to let you test your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) with a high degree of accuracy anywhere you may be. While I gave the device a top rating, I had two qualms about it -- it was pretty good sized and it was also quite expensive. Today the company released the BACtrack Vio (US$49.99), a new smaller model of the device with a bargain price tag. Let's take a look.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 2.85 x 0.95 x 0.65 inches (72.4 x 24.1 x 16.5 mm)
  • Weight: 2 ounces (56 grams)
  • Detection Range: 0.00 -- 0.400 percent Blood Alcohol Content
  • Sensor: MicroCheck®
  • Power Supply: 1 AAA battery (included)
  • Warmup time: 10 to 20 seconds
  • Blowing time: 5 seconds
  • Warranty: One year

Design Highlights

Compared with the previous model of the BACtrack, the Vio is absolutely tiny. It comes with a key ring so that it can either become your default key fob or hook onto an existing key ring. This is a really good feature, as it is light and unobtrusive enough to be something that you'll always have with you -- perfect for those unplanned after work parties.

There's a tiny flip out tube to breathe into; if you want to share the device with others, BACtrack Vio comes with three mouthpieces so you don't share germs directly. One button is used to turn the device on and off, and it also provides a way to pair the BACtrack Vio with your iPhone.

Functionality Highlights

BACtrack came out with a new version of their app that is available in the App Store today. It works with the older devices, but really shines with the BACtrack Vio. To set up the device, you start by putting a AAA battery into a slot on the side of the unit. Download, install and launch the app, turn on the BACtrack Vio by holding down the power button for two seconds, and tap Pair Your BACtrack to link the two devices. Note that you must do this every time that you use the Vio, but it only takes a few seconds.

Once the BACtrack Vio and iPhone are paired, you're presented with a Take A Reading button. Tap it, wait while the sensor warms up, and then you're asked to blow into the device. After about five seconds, your BAC level is listed. The company's ZeroLine gives you an indication of just how long it may take for you to get back to a 0.00% BAC.

In the slideshow above, I included images of both the older (version 1.4) and newer (2.0) versions of the app. The new version is light and very iOS 7-like in design, while still offering the same great functionality.

Conclusion

What's not to like about the BACtrack Vio? It's available for a third of the price of the BACtrack Mobile tested by TUAW just two months ago, yet offers the same level of accuracy. The app has been updated to give it an iOS 7 vibe, getting rid of the dark and dreary look of the old app. With the new price and smaller form factor, anyone who likes to imbibe now and then should be able to afford a BACtrack Vio. They'll be available at Best Buy stores and Amazon.com later this month, can be purchased online at BACtrack.com right now, and will see increased distribution soon.

As someone who likes the occasional beer or bottle of wine while enjoying a good dinner, I am thrilled that BACtrack is making affordable products like the Vio available to the public. With an iPhone, a BACtrack Vio, and a sense of personal responsibility, there's no reason for anyone to be driving while intoxicated.

Rating: 4 stars out of 4 stars possible

Four star rating out of four stars possible

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