Bluetooth Communications: What's Out There?

When comparing the many helmet communication systems on the market, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options. There are a variety of companies taking many different approaches to designing and producing helmet audio systems. Three of the biggest players in the helmet comm system space are Cardo, Sena, and UClear. 

 

Cardo

Waterproof 
JBL speakers
Voice Control  
Universal installation 
Typically more users

 

All of Cardo’s devices are waterproof and covered by a 2 year warranty. Their medium to high end systems boast JBL speakers with high-fidelity sound. Most of Cardo’s systems have universal helmet compatibility, since most helmets have recesses for speakers. All of their units are waterproof, claim a 13-hour battery life plus a few extra hours for emergency use, and are controlled with 3 buttons on the unit as well as voice commands. All of Cardo’s new units, namely the Spirit, Freecom 4x, and Packtalk Edge, feature over the air updates, eliminating the need to plug into a computer. The Packtalk line of systems feature a Dynamic Mesh Communication (DMC) system that allows for a 1-mile rider to rider range, and can be stretched between a maximum of 15 riders over a 5-mile line-of-sight range. Because of Cardo’s high-quality features and wide range of competitively-priced units, they are highly recommended.

 

Sena

Water resistant
Shoei & HJC Integration
Harman Kardon Speakers
Many more options / styles

 

If you are looking for a more specific feature set than what Cardo offers, Sena might have you covered. Sena has a wider range of available models than the other two brands, each with a unique set of features. They feature Harman Kardon speakers, a 1-year warranty from the date of purchase, and between a 7 to 12-hour battery life; however, most of their devices claim only water-resistant, not waterproof. They also have a Mesh 2.0 system that allows for 24 riders to connect. As with Cardo’s DMC, Sena’s Mesh can be stretched up to 5 miles with 6 riders distanced accordingly, with a dynamically changing system that can be set to automatically connect with other riders within the 1 mile range. It’s common to find some helmets built specifically to incorporate certain Sena models, such as the Shoei Neotec II and GT-Air II, or the HJC i10 or i90. Overall, Sena provides a more diverse selection than what is available from Cardo or UClear. If you are looking for a very specific feature set, Sena also offers stripped down units with different features for a lower cost. 

 

UClear

Weatherproof
No-microphone design
Hand gesture controls & voice control
Lower cost for similar system

UClear takes a different approach to the design of their communication systems than Cardo or Sena. UClear uses an innovative micless system which has the microphone incorporated into the speaker. For full face helmets, this isn’t much of a feature beyond the initial setup being easier, but any ¾ helmet or modular users that traditionally need a boom mic will appreciate this system over Cardo or Sena. UClear also has a class leading 18-hour claimed battery life and 3 methods to control the unit: traditional buttons can be found on the unit as well as voice control and gesture commands, which are accomplished by a laser system on the side of the unit that allows users to swipe their hands past the unit to play, pause, or skip music. They also feature a mesh system on their Motion Infinity system, which allow for a potentially unlimited number of riders to connect to one another. UClear has a 2 year warranty from the date of purchase. A special feature specific to the UClear Motion Infinity is the GPS tracking and alerts included in the device: if a rider goes down, the Motion Infinity will alert emergency services to their location. UClear units also come in cheaper than similar units from Cardo and Sena. For users looking to get something a little different from traditional Cardo and Sena units, UClear may be a great option at a great value. 

 

Although all three systems can communicate with one another, the pairing process can be difficult and it is highly recommended that your riding group choose one system for everyone. Because of their market share and a great combination of features and audio quality in a single package, Cardo is the “just buy this” recommendation. For users looking for a specific feature set, Sena will have the most diverse options. Someone who wants the most innovative features at a great price will find UClear to be a good fit. 


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