Thursday, March 29, 2018

Adventure Tech: Bonx Grip Bluetooth Communications Device

Yesterday I took a look at one way of staying in communication with friends and family while on the go in the form of a set of two-way radios from Cobra. Today, we'll check out an entirely different method of communication that is perfect for cyclists, mountain bikers, runners, or just about any type of group that wants an easy to use method of chatting while in the field.

The Bonx Grip is a Bluetooth device that pairs with a smartphone, and has been built from the ground up for facilitating communication. In a lot of ways it resembles other Bluetooth earpieces that are on the market, both in terms of how it operates and how it looks. The device is more rugged and durable than most other handsfree headsets however and it ships with multiple attachments that allow users to dial in the exact fit for their needs. This is a product designed for athletes and active outdoor enthusiasts, so it has been designed to stay in place, even when things get energetic. It can even playback music or podcasts provided you don't mind only hearing them in one ear. 

Like other Bluetooth earpieces, the Bonx Grip has a built in microphone, allowing users to easily chat with one another without having to hold a phone or touch a mic button. But, this device varies sharply from most other products in one key way. It can be used to create a personal voice chat room for up to 10 people, facilitating a conversation with everyone at the same time. Better yet, those individuals can be anywhere on the planet, provided they have access to a data network on their smartphone at the time. 

Pairing the Bonx Grip to a smartphone is fast and painless, as is the case with most Bluetooth products these days. Once paired, you can configure the device using an app for iOS and Android and find friends who also have a Bonx unit. When you're ready to use the system, you simply create a new chat room using the app and invite anyone you want to chat with to join you. It is really as simple as that.

As mentioned, the Bonx device uses the Internet to pass the audio to everyone in the group, so your cell phone needs to either be connected to wifi or your cell provider's data network at all times. If you find yourself off the grid somewhere the system doesn't work and you'll still be left hight and dry. Or, if you're on a run or bike ride and you're already in a chat room but lose your network connection temporarily, a voice prompt from the device will alert you to the situation. It will also tell you when you've rejoined the conversation as well.

Put to test in the real world, the Bonx works very well, even in areas where the data network might not be as strong or as fast as others. Conversations are generally quite clear and the audio quality is surprisingly crisp most of the time. There are occasional drops, garbled words, or static, but for the most part those are few and far between.

The Bonx Grip is great for team mates who want to train together but don't necessarily live close to one another. Simply connect on the app and create a chat room, and hit the road for a run or ride. You'll be able to maintain an easy conversation, with the device automatically detecting when someone starts talking, then passing that audio on to everyone else.

But, the Bonx works great even when you're relatively close to one another. If you ride in a large cycling group for instance, it is a nice way for everyone to stay in contact. Or, if you're working on a project in the field – say filming a documentary or scouting new climbing routes – the device can keep all the members of the group in constant contact, even when they wander away from each other. This isn't a gadget that requires line of sight or has a limited range. It literally will work anywhere, provided you maintain that data network.

Built for use in the outdoors, the Bonx is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. It has a 7 hour battery life and is easily recharged using a USB battery pack or USB charger. The device sells for $139.95 for one unit, but you need at least two to create the chat group. Hopefully you'll be able to convince some friends to buy a couple as well.

Find out more on the Bonx Grip official website.


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