This is my second Pro-Tec review. The firm won me over with their Pro-Tec Professional, a bare bones model that hits the nail on the head in terms of accuracy. The Personal is a slimmered down variant, uses a slightly less accurate sensor, but it is at least a fuel cell tester. This will be the last solo breathalyzer review, next week I will be collating all the data I have gathered over the last few months, and doing my own top 5 professional breathalyzers on the market. I will also be doing an article naming and shaming a few of my least liked, so you can avoid the pitfalls of the breathalyzer business.
I never in a million years thought this series of articles would be half as interesting as it has turned out to be. There has been so much data to look at, so many cool gadgets to try out, and above all else, an awful lot of alcohol to consume. There is one very important thing to remember when buying a breathalyzer, the internal sensor. So many on the market at the moment use semi conductor sensors, and I can tell you right now, they tend to not be worth the money. They are no where near as accurate, and the price difference is almost negligible. Seriously, it is so weird. The cheapest of the cheap breathalyzers cost around $20, while the cheapest of the fuel cell based testers is only $50. When you are looking for a model, and I haven’t covered it, be sure to verify the sensor type.
This Pro-Tec compares very favorably with their full sized model. There isn’t much in the way of bells and whistles, but there really doesn’t have to be. So long as it has that sweet, sweet fuel cell, you can be all but guaranteed of accuracy. The form factor is fairly unique here too. It is pen shaped, instead of a block of plastic, and thus it is superior to the vast majority of breathalyzers in terms of ergonomics.
My methodology has not changed. A group of my friends, and myself, will be testing and drinking our way through a fair few beers and comparing the results to some of my previous findings. I designed this testing method to compensate for having no other results to compare with. Now that I have a good dozen reviews under my belt it is much easier to give you the details you need. This may be the last breathalyzer I test for a while, but I am quite sure next weekend will involve a similar amount of alcohol.
So let’s see what this bad boy can do.
Pro-Tec Personal Breathalyzer Design and Build Quality
I have a structure for these reviews. I talk about the aesthetics, and for the most part it isn’t the most important feature. Here though I feel like it should be. The Personal is amazing to look at. I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to fit a high grade sensor into this tiny little pen like device. The screen is tiny, but easy to read. The overall build has a nice heft to it, which I like to see in my electronics. There are a few issues though, and chief among them is the core feature set. Literally all it can do is test your current levels. There is no data recording, no app integration and no countdown to sobriety that you might find on other models.
In terms of pure ergonomics the Personal is probably the best out there. It will fit easily in anyone’s hand, and the form factor should be familiar to anyone who smokes, cigarettes or e-cigs. It’s small enough to fit pretty much anywhere too. Very impressed with the design of this one.
So good ergonomics, and a less than stellar feature set. The best part of the build is in the sensor. A top quality fuel cell sensor comes as standard here, and it is that fact alone that elevates this above the majority of breathalyzers out there. The mouthpieces are okay, not much to write home about, and you get five of them with your purchase. The price of replacements is far cheaper than most, a fifty pack can usually be purchased for around $30, about a third cheaper than the competition. I worry now about what I am going to do with the 50 or so assorted mouthpieces, but that’s my issue.
There are two core types of sensor used in breathalyzers these days. Semi conductors and fuel cells. Fuel cells are the ones to get, they are accurate. Semi conductors cannot be accurate, even under perfect circumstances. The sensors react to alcohol particles. When you blow into the mouthpiece the alcohol particles oxidize in the chamber, creating resistance on the circuit. The sensors measure the resistance and display the number, with fuel cells this is accurate to within a thousandth of a percent. With the Semi conductor testers it is not, you see, they react to all kinds of particles, not just alcohol. Hair spray, acetone and even cigarette smoke. In addition, the range of resistances is far lower, meaning the result it spits out should be saying high or low, rather than an actual blood alcohol count. Fuel cell sensors only react to alcohol, and their range of resistances is much broader, giving us our more accurate result.
Linked to the ergonomics is the ease of use. And where some models add an extra layer between you and the end figure, this is not the case here. Pro-Tec has focused on simplicity, just press the button, wait a few seconds, blow into the mouthpiece for a while and read the results. It literally could not be simpler.
This is a bare bones product, for some that may be a deal breaker, but no matter what I review I focus on the core requirements over all else. If a product can give me those few things I need out of the device, and the price is right, then it is easy to recommend. The Pro-Tec Personal is one such item. Super easy to use, the best on the market in terms of ergonomics, and accurate as all hell. There are better breathalyzers out there, but few can hit this price point.
Pro-Tec Personal Breathalyzer Testing
The Pro-Tec Personal was subjected to my normal testing method, a group of guys getting progressively more drunk and making fun of each other for our tolerances levels. It was a good night. First we all blow sober, then drink one beer. After we waited the required time we tested out levels again. The results were as expected, comparing very favorably with the BACtrack Trace. I take the S80 as my baseline for accuracy, and while it wasn’t able to match that, it was still well within the 95% range. Very impressive in terms of accuracy.
Here comes the part of the article where I get all righteous and start preaching about the importance of road safety. I get that most of us will be using a breathalyzer to verify that we are good to drive, I imagine it is one of the main appeals of the things, but I implore you to think of even professional breathalyzers as more of a peace of mind purchase. You buy one to hope you won’t need it. I get that there are limit laws in place in many jurisdiction, but the danger in knowing your current blood alcohol content is that it might spur you on to take risks that you wouldn’t otherwise take. If there is an emergency, then having a breathalyzer will be a god send, when there isn’t you can relax. All that said, you know yourself way better than I know yourself, so up to you.
I understand that this is more of a cut rate entry level breathalyzer. I didn’t expect top of the line user experience when I went into this, and I was pleasantly surprised. But more and more firms are adding phone connectivity and app integration to their products. I love apps, and I love data, having a handy little program to collate all the data from my breathalyzer is amazing, so I am sad to not see it here. Not a huge deal, but a bit of a black mark for me.
This is one of the better entry level items out there. The price at the moment is a little discounted and it tends to vary a bit so it’s best to just click here and see the current pricing. Usually it can be purchased for under $75 and honestly anything under $60 is a really good price. If you are in the market and it’s currently around this price range I would say it would be wise to pull the trigger.
Pro-Tec Personal Breathalyzer Conclusion
So here we are. At the end of the road. I could not have picked a better product to end this series of reviews on. It has clear strengths and obvious weaknesses. The design of the build is both unique, and extremely efficient, ergonomically above and beyond the competition. The fuel cell sensor is one of the best I have tested, and right now it is fairly cheap too. The issues are merely a matter of what you want out of your breathalyzer. If you want top of the line device integration, then look elsewhere, but if you are after a simple product that will give you the accurate data you need for some peace of mind, then you have to at least consider the Pro-Tec Personal.
Deals & Discounts
If you are interested in checking out the Pro-Tec Personal and getting it with all the available discounts applied you can click here to view the Amazon.com Listing.