SportBinox Hands-Free Binoculars
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
What do bird watching, hunting, baseball games, football games, other sporting events, and maybe even entertainment concerts all have in common? These are all situations in which you probably wished you could somehow magnify your vision like Lee Majors did with his bionic eye in the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man so you could really see the action from way back in the stands. Those of us without bionic eyes, however, have to settle for the plain old technology called binoculars. But who wants to lug around a pair of binoculars all day long? What if you could simply mount a pair of binoculars to your head for quick and easy access to magnified vision? Thatís where the SportBinox hands-free binoculars from HiStar might come in handy.
Basically, SportBinox are a pair of regular binoculars mounted to a set of headgear. The headgear consists of two pieces: an adjustable headband that you put over your head and the binocular mount that can be moved up or down so that you can easily switch between magnified and regular sight. The headgear is made of a hard, durable plastic, although I wouldnít recommend dropping the SportBinox, because just like regular binoculars, they can easily break if they hit a hard surface.
To put on the SportBinox, you place the front of the headband on your forehead and place the back of the headband at the lower part of the back of your head, so that the headband rests on your head at an angle. Then you adjust the knob at the back of the headband to get a tight fit. Youíll have to wear the headband fairly tightly so that the SportBinox donít slip and slide around. There are also two adjustable knobs at the sides of the headband that control the tension of the binocular mount. This allows you to make sure that when you move the binoculars above your head so you can see regularly, that they donít fall back down over your eyes when you move your head around.
The binoculars themselves are focus-free, which means you donít need to adjust the focus when you look around at different things. And the SportBinox come in two different models: The T-8000 and the T-4000. The T-8000 provides an 8x25, 8x power regular binocular view. The T-4000 provides a 4x21, 4x power super-wide binocular view. The super-wide view lets you see a much wider field of vision, but doesnít provides as much magnification.
Since the SportBinox are mainly aimed for use at sporting events, it also includes a set of AM/FM radio headphones that come mounted to the headband. The headphones provide two over-the-ear pieces connected by a headband. The right piece provides adjustable controls for power/volume, AM/FM band, and channel selection. The left piece holds the two AAA batteries needed for power, which are not included.
Unfortunately, the quality of the headphones leaves a lot to be desired. Even though I did not break open the phones to look at the electronics, I could easily tell from operation that the circuitry was quite cheap. The dial provided for channel selection is very difficult to adjust. To find a radio channel you have to move the dial very slowly and in such small increments that clear reception isnít easy to come by. In addition, the ear pieces provide very low-quality and static-filled sound, so the listening experience isnít very good. I would recommend that you remove the AM/FM radio headset. A simple snip of the plastic ties will do it. If you want radio reception, get a nice Walkman with in-the-ear plugs. That way you can have radio when you want it and leave the radio home when you donít.
SportBinox In Action
The SportBinox themselves work pretty well, although it can be difficult to get them properly adjusted at first. Some of the things I learned when testing the SportBinox are: if you have medium-length or long hair, youíll need to pull the hair back from your forehead so that the headband rests against your skin instead of your hair. If you donít do this, the headband may slip and slide if your hair is between it and your forehead. It can also be difficult to get the distance between the two eyepieces properly adjusted. Like a regular pair of binoculars, you can fold the two eyepieces in and out, and youíll need to do this to find a nice magnified field of view. In addition, like regular binoculars, the SportBinox do not provide image stabilization. This means that youíll have to keep fairly still to keep the magnified image from jittering. But thatís how it is with all binoculars and is not the fault of the SportBinox.
Bionic Eyes For Everyone
Having to handle a pair of binoculars every time you want to see the action at a sporting or entertainment event can be a hassle. And being able to keep both hands free when bird watching or (of course) hunting is very invaluable. If you participate in activities like these on a regular basis, the SportBinox may be just the thing you need to keep your eyes on the action or the target, whichever the case may be.