Tuesday, September 27, 2022

ACE II Basic Professional Grade Breathalyzer Review

I did not expect to enjoy this series of reviews as much as the mattress reviews. I love sleeping, and am not a big drinker, but these have been a blast. I can get others to do the actual drinking, while I get to dive into the tech involved, the aesthetics of the designs and all the stuff I love about new tech. I finished up the BACtrack range of products a while ago, and for the most part I was impressed by them. Until the end of the set at least. While most of BACtrack’s range are the nice high quality professional breathalyzers, their less expensive products are more like novelty items, with a few bells and whistles thrown on top. The ACE II Basic, contrary to the name, brings us back to the professional breathalyzer set.

There are so many breathalyzers on the market at the moment, a growth industry it seems. They are affordable and if you know what you are looking for, extremely accurate. If you don’t know what you’re looking for you can be saddled with little more than a toy, and certainly not something I would stake my life on. I call them novelty breathalyzers. The core sensor tech is different, far lower quality, and so for the most part I do not recommend them. The odd thing about the state of the industry at the moment is that the professional grade testers are not much more expensive than the cheapest of the novelty items. Compare the Vaster Professional, a novelty grade breathalyzer, to the ACE II. The Vaster is $20 to the ACE II’s $60. If you are going to buy one of these anyway $40 is nothing.

The ACE II, our feature product today, is a bare bones affair in the world of professional breathalyzers. It does little more than test your blood alcohol content. But the thing to remember is that any device that does more than that is merely adding unnecessary bells and whistles. Now, I like perks as much as the next guy, but if you are looking to save a few bucks, and still get that sweet accuracy this is may be the product for you.

My methodology hasn’t changed. I designed this back when I reviewed the Vaster, and it is made to compensate for a lack of accurate details on blood alcohol content. I now have a wide range of readings from multiple devices, each rated very highly by the CE and other bodies. A group of my friends and I will each blow sober, then test our blood alcohol content after each drink, comparing the results to my previous readings. This is a top notch reader, so I am expecting it to match up nicely with the BACtrack S80 et al.

So let’s get to the details, and see if this is the right model for you.

ACE II Basic Professional Grade Breathalyzer Design and Build Quality

ace-ii-embeddedLet’s start with a look at the aesthetics. So many breathalyzers on the market look cool, it isn’t that hard to do. Apple and other firms have shown us how to make an attractive product in this form factor, so the fact that the Basic looks so basic leaves me a little dismayed. I’ll concede that the look of the build isn’t that important, unless you are stuck between similar specced and price products, in which case that lack of flair will hurt the ACE II Basic somewhat. The mouthpiece is where it is on most breathalyzers, hanging off the side, and I would have liked to see if angled upwards a little. Using it is still very easy.

It seems it is nearly impossible to build a breathalyzer that fits well into any hand. All the firms skimp on ergonomics, maybe adding a slight curve at the corners, but raraely is there any real consideration. The same is true of the ACE II. Overall, not a chore to hold, but hardly amazing.

It may seem like I have nothing good to say about this model, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The core tech is amazing, and the price is very low. It stands to reason that the firm would have to skimp in other, less important areas. Seems my article format is doing the ACE II Basic an injustice. One very nice thing is the price of replacement mouthpieces, a full 25 pack is $10, far cheaper than the same product from BACtrack and AccuMed.

Now we come to one of the ACE II’s strengths. The internal components. Buy this and you get a top of the range fuel cell sensor, and one that has been awarded a 99% accuracy rating by the Technical University of Vienna. You literally cannot get better than that right now, even if you’re law enforcement. Compared to the accuracy of semi conductor sensors, seen in comparative products, this cannot be beaten.

I tend to take a paragraph here to explain the difference between semi conductor and fuel cell based sensors. Semi conductor sensors are the ones you see in novelty breathalyzers. They are able to detect alcohol particles, create resistance on their circuit with their oxidation, and deliver a result based on the amount of resistance. So far, so humdrum.

The problem with them lies in the fact that not only alcohol particles create resistance on their circuits. Hair spray, cigarette smoke and even acetone breathe of those with diabetes messes with the result. More than that, the range of resistances is very short, so your result is essentially very drunk or not that drunk. Hardly helpful. Fuel cell based sensors have none of those issues. They only react to alcohol particles, and their range of resistances is very broad, giving you as accurate a result as is possible.

Using the ACE II Basic could not be simpler. Just press the button, wait five seconds, half the time of most breathalyzers, and blow into the device for ten. You get the results displayed on a small LED screen. Said screen is not the best in the world, but it gets the job done. Add in FDA approval and we have a real contender for the best entry level device on the market.

At the end of the day, this is not going to blow anyone away. It is a simple device, with a complicated interior. There are issues with the design, but they aren’t deal breakers. The build is robust, and will take a knock, and you get a nice certificate of accuracy with every purchase. Overall, a fine product.

ACE II Basic Professional Grade Breathalyzer Testing

The results are in. I subjected the ACE II Basic to my rigorous and increasingly rowdy testing, and was very happy with the range of figures it produced. First up we all blew into the device, each with our own mouthpiece of course, and got back our baseline 0. Next we all had one beer, waited the allotted time, and blew again. The ranges here compared well with the BACtrack Trace, which I expected them to. As the night wore on, the numbers went up, with personal alcohol tolerances taken into account the figures were a near clone of the BACtrack. I was very pleased with this level of quality at this price point.

I have established the accuracy personally, and so as with all of these top of the range breathalyzers, I have to point out a simple thing. It is easy to rely on these devices, to excuse going for a drive when under the legal limit. But I implore you to maybe take the extra time to hit zero. I see the ACE II Basic and the like as more peace of mind products. If you need to drive, then you can, but if you can avoid it, remember that any amount of alcohol can impair your driving, and lower your reaction times. That said, you know you better than I do.

One of the things I would have liked to see, and hope to see more of in the coming years, is a companion app. BACtrack have increased the utility of even their semi conductor builds by adding one to a few of the breathalyzers, and I was enamored of it. Automating the date recording process was a go send, and all the other little features that crop up when you add a program to it are amazing. Here is a simple, one and done tester, and at this price it would have been hard for them to include Bluetooth and an app.

A review of this review makes me feel like I have been over harsh. All of the faults I lay at the feet of the ACE II Basic are valid, but we need to focus on the good. The goodest of the good is th price. The ACE II Basic, with all of its accuracy can usually be purchased for under $80. I have been reviewing these things for a few weeks, and researching them for longer, and I can tell you now this is one of the best price points on the market. For me it trumps any and all faults. That said the price of breathalyzers can vary a bit due to sales and promotions so to see the current deals on the ACE II breathalyzer you can click here to view any current deals at Amazon.com

ACE II Basic Professional Grade Breathalyzer Conclusion & Deals

The ACE II Basic may have won awards in Vienna, but it isn’t going to win any anywhere else. It might be one of my favorite breathalyzers, but even I am not blind enough to my bias to call it the best. It lacks the bells and whistles of its more expensive competitors, but if you can overlook that, this is an accurate breathalyzer that can get the job done a little faster than most. The price is amazing, and when it comes time for me to do a top ten breathalyzers article you can rest assured that this will be among them.

To view all the current deals for the ACE II Basic Professional Breathalyzer you can click here! 

Barry W Stanton
Irish born writer who drinks too much caffeine and reads too much Terry Pratchett. I enjoy long walks on the server and Korean cuisine.
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