This may well be my last breathalyzer review. I have been scouring the web for new products to test, and have come up empty, on the professional grade front. I may be doing a compendium of breathalyzers to avoid next week, and a top ten, but 1:1 breathalyzer articles may be a thing of the past. I’m sad to say goodbye to them, they have been a joy to review. A combo of cool tech and alcohol consumption, it has been a fun couple of months. Today I will be reviewing the Pro-Tec Professional, and as the name implies, this ain’t no novelty breathalyzer.
The last few months have been a whirlwind of new information, and assimilation. Breathalyzers are a growth market, it seems, and everyday new products are being released. For the most part they are pretty good, but for the unwary there are a few pitfalls we can fall into. Prime among them are the novelty items. They look like professional breathalyzers, and they act like professional breathalyzers, but they are no where near as accurate. The weird thing, to me at least, is the pricing. A novelty breathalyzer, while cheap, is not commensurate with the quality. The cheapest novelty breathalyzers are around $20, while a high grade, bare bones professional breathalyzer can be as little as $50. If you are looking for a personal breathalyzer, $30 is chump change, right?
The Pro-Tec Professional is a basic model. It does what you need it to do, and has maybe one or two other features you might find useful, but for the most part this is a simple test and go machine. Not a bad thing to my mind, after all, the sensor tech here is reliable and accurate, so it is no surprise that they skimped on bonus features to keep the price nice and low. I am always in favor of providing the same core functionality as the best in the industry at cut rate prices.
My methodology has remained unchanged. This is my last breathalyzer test, sad to see it go, but my data may be of use to me in the future, who knows. My group of friends and myself will be slowly getting drunk, measuring the results, and comparing said results to my previous tests. I always buy extra mouthpieces, nobody wants couties after all, and we always begin at baseline 0. This breathalyzer uses fuel cell sensor tech, so I am predicting that the results will compare favorably to the S80 from BACtrack.
So let’s break this one down, and see if it is the right model for you.
Pro-Tec Professional Grade Breathalyzer Design and Build Quality
I tend to start with the least important feature, the aesthetics. It does not really matter what a product looks like, but in cases where you are caught between two equally high quality items, at the same price point, then you go for the one that looks the coolest. The Pro-Tec Professional isn’t much to look at, considering the core of the design work has already been done by phone manufacturers. The screen is a nice blue, and very bright, but also quite limited in terms of display. You tend to find that on the entry level products like this almost all the tech besides the sensor has been stripped away. The Mouthpiece is at a 90 degree angle to the body, which is mostly standard, but a fair few firms have it at an angle, which I love.
One of the ways the Pro-Tec beats out the competition is in terms of pure ergonomics. Almost all devices on the market at the moment are uni body flat affairs, that fit in the hand as well as an ice cream sandwich. Whoever designed the casing for this breathalyzer gave some though as to how people would be holding it. The curved ridges at the side make it a joy to hold, above and beyond even the most expensive models out there.
One for and one against, but the piece de resistance for the Pro-Tec Professional lies on the inside. This cheap little breathalyzer packs in a high quality fuel cell sensor, the kind you see in police issue breathalyzers. In addition, you are unlikely to find replacement mouthpieces for other models at the price Pro-Tec are charging for theirs. A pack of fifty can be had for right around $20, around half the price of the competition. Granted, I now don’t know what I’m going to do with all the mouthpieces I have left over, but for others this is a great deal. The Pro-Tec Professional comes with five mouthpieces to begin with.
The sensor tech is some of the best on the market, and is up to code with all enforcement bodies in the US. It conforms to the guidelines as set up by the FDA, 510k, the DOT and the NHTSA. It is accurate to within a thousandth of a percent, and reliable as well. When you compare it to the accuracy of the older semi conductor based tech you would be astounded. I was.
I like to explain the difference between semi conductor sensors and fuel cell sensors here. Semi conductor sensors are the reason novelty breathalyzers are a joke. The sensor can never be accurate. They react to the presence of alcohol, oxidize it and create resistance on a circuit, same as the fuel cells, but the range of resistances is so narrow that the best it can tell you is whether you have drank a lot or a little. Worse yet, it is not only alcohol that can create resistance on a semi conductor tester circuit, hair spray, acetone, cigarette smoke, all these can skew the results.
Fuel cell based testers, like the Pro-Tec, only react to alcohol, so no need to worry about testing after a smoke, and the range of resistances is much broader, allowing it to give you a more accurate result. Combine this with the relative lack of price difference between the two and you can see why I am so incensed at the firms who sell these products.
Using a Pro-Tec Professional is easy, just press the button, wait a few seconds then blow into the mouthpiece. You do have to wait a while after drinking to get a good result, usually around a half hour, but this is standard.
All said, this is still a basic product. You do not buy a Pro-Tec to be blown away with the quality. You buy one for the core functionality, and possibly as a stepping stone to something grander. As it stands, if you are in the market for a simple, easy to use breathalyzer this is certainly better than 90% of what’s out there.
Pro-Tec Professional Grade Breathalyzer Testing
I subjected the Pro-Tec to my rigorous, slightly tipsy, testing methodology. We all got slowly drunk, testing with our own mouthpieces along the way. I reviewed the data, compared with the results I got from my previous tests, and found that the Pro-Tec Professinoal most closely resembles the BACtrack Trace. This would put the quality of the tester a little below the S80 and the Mobile, but still far above most of the breathalyzers on the market. Overall I was very impressed with the accuracy and the ease of use.
I have made certain of the accuracy of the device myself, and while my testing parameters are by no means perfect, the fact that the data matches up is enough for me. So now a moment to talk about the effects of a breathalyzer. They might make you feel comfortable doing something that you shouldn’t feel comfortable about. Just because we are under the legal limit, does not mean we should always risk the drive. If it is at all possible to wait that little extra hour to make sure you are blowing sober then please consider doing it. Any amount of alcohol can impair our driving. That said, you know you better than I know you, so up to…
I get that this is an entry level product, but in the now, where every piece of tech is growing more and more homogeneous, I would have liked to see some phone integration. I know of a few other firms that have released apps, and integrated Bluetooth into their breathalyzers, and the increase in utility that a clean easy to read interface, combined with a few back end math, brings is wonderful. We’ll see how the next few years go.
I have been greatly impressed with this build. There are a few things it could do better, but at its core it is sound. Where it really shines is in the pricing department. The base price for the Pro-Tec Professional comes in right around $100 however you can usually get it with a decent discount at Amazon.com by clicking here.
I would really only recommend buying it if you are able to scoop it up for under $100. If the price is any higher than that I would likely recommend going with the BACtrack S80.
Pro-Tec Professional Grade Breathalyzer Conclusion
The Pro-Tec Professional hits the nail on the head for me. I don’t need much in the way of fancy features, though I do enjoy them. All we need from a breathalyzer is the ability to test the blood alcohol content accurately and quickly. They are for peace of mind, to let us feel a little more comfortable enjoying ourselves, and the Pro-Tec Professional does that. The pricing is on point, for now, and the replacement parts are weirdly cheap. Overall this is an excellent entry level option if you can grab it on sale for under $100.