Let’s just get this out of the way up front: All testing done on this product was completed by adults over the legal drinking age (21 in the U.S.) in a responsible manner. If you are going to drink, you should always drink responsibly, and you should never drink and drive. With all that said, I’m a big fan of beer. I enjoy drinking beer, I enjoy having some beers with friends, I’ve even written about beer here on Techaeris. I know better than to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, but I haven’t, however, known exactly what the legal limit *feels* like when it comes to alcohol. I had a chance to test out the AlcoMate Revo breathalyzer, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. After some very thorough testing (drinking) over the span of the last few weeks, this AlcoMate Revo review will explain exactly how .08 percent BAC feels.
- Alcohol Sensor: Fuel-Cell with PRISM Technology
- Size: 4.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 in
- Display: 4-Digit LCD
- Detection Range: 0.000 – 0.400% BAC (G/DL)
- Weight: 1.0000 oz
What’s in the box
- Revo Breathalyzer
- User’s Manual
- Carrying Pouch
- 2 x AAA Batteries
- 5 x Mouthpieces
- Pre-Installed PRISM component (Sensor Module)
The first thing you’ll notice when get your AlcoMate Revo is the hard ABS plastic case that it comes in. This is a breathalyzer that is geared towards professionals — law enforcement, health care, etc. The case offers thick foam padding and protection that lends itself to being stored with other gear while not damaging the equipment inside. For those of us that maybe just want to get an idea of how much we’ve had to drink, the Revo also includes a soft carry pouch with a small carabiner clip that can attach to a backpack, or slip into a pocket.
The AlcoMate Revo itself is very small and light, sized at 4 x 2 x 0.6 inches. The entire unit is comfortable to hold, and while very light, still feels solid in your hand. The front of the Revo has a back-lit four-digit LCD display circled by a chrome ring. Below that is the power button and the product name is shown on the bottom of the front of the device. The back has a removeable panel to replace the batteries and the PRISM sensor (more on that later). The top and bottom are relatively ordinary, but the sides are definitely more interesting. The right side has a port for the mouthpiece — the bit that you’ll blow into — while the left side has an exhaust port for the blown air to escape.
The Revo includes five mouthpieces, though more can be purchased separately. The mouthpiece fits snugly into the port on the right side, and the intake and exhaust ports are sized and shaped differently so there’s no chance of inserting the mouthpiece wrong.
The four-digit LCD display on the Revo is backlit, making it very easy to read. The on-screen instructions are clear and the display really does exactly what it needs to do without being flashy. Four digits are enough to show the basic instructions — wait, blow, off, etc. — as well as the blood alcohol content (BAC%) reading out to the thousandth decimal place (0.000). On one hand, the display might be better served by providing a more accurate reading by going to the ten thousandth decimal place and forgetting the leading zero, since anybody with a blood alcohol content of 1.xxx would very definitely be dead and therefore unable to blow into the AlcoMate Revo. Just a thought, but even a reading to the thousandth decimal place is sufficient, as all current legal limits are based on the hundredth decimal place.
Ease of Use
The AlcoMate Revo is incredibly easy to use. Since at least a portion of its target audience will be drunk when operating the device that is a good thing. Simply press the power button, wait for the unit to boot up — the four digit display will cycle through a loading animation of sorts — and when prompted to blow, just blow. You’ll want to take a good deep breath and ensure that you have a tight seal on the mouthpiece. Your exhale into the Revo should be strong but controlled, something akin to a deep sigh.
You’ll need to blow into the AlcoMate Revo for about four to five seconds to get an accurate reading. The device will emit a tone while it is receiving a sufficient flow of air, and you should continue to blow while the tone is on. You’ll hear a click when the test has completed and you can stop blowing at that time. After a few seconds, your reading will appear on the display. Once you’ve recorded or otherwise shown off your reading to your friends, simply hold the power button for a few seconds to turn off the device. The device will shut itself off after a short time, so if you forget to turn it off it will take care of itself.
I, sadly, don’t have the equipment or means to verify the accuracy of the AlcoMate Revo myself, though the device has been approved by both the Department of Transportation and the US Coast Guard, so I’d imagine their testing and approval process is quite thorough. I did take several baseline tests either before drinking or generally without any alcohol in my system and all readings were 0.000 as expected.
The Revo runs on AlcoMate’s patented PRISM technology. Most breathalyzers need to be sent back to the manufacturer periodically to be recalibrated which will reduce overall accuracy over time as the sensor in the device remains unchanged. With PRISM the entire alcohol sensor can simply be replaced. Each sensor is good for 1,000 readings (AlcoMate also recommends replacing the sensor after a year even if 1,000 readings have not been completed) and the sensor can be replaced by simply removing the back panel, removing the batteries, sliding the old sensor down to remove, then inserting a new sensor. You can determine how many cumulative tests have been run by holding down the power button for a few seconds when powering on the device. The test count will be displayed, and the normal device boot process will resume once you let go of the button. Downtime is almost completely eliminated because extra sensors can be bought ahead of time and even stored for up to 12 months before being used.
Throughout the remainder of my drink… err… testing, the results given seemed to line up with what I expected they should be. Numbers were reasonable after a few beers, increased after a few more, eventually getting to a tipping point and then dropping as my drinking slowed down.
All told, in my first big night of testing (at home, not driving anywhere, etc.) the highest legitimate reading I got was .093, well above the legal limit for driving. To be perfectly honest though, right around the point when I hit .06 I felt as though driving would be a very bad idea. I mentioned that this was the highest legitimate reading because it is possible to skew your results higher under the right circumstances. AlcoMate recommends waiting 20 minutes after your last food or drink before testing, as particulates in your mouth can cause higher readings or damage the alcohol sensor. This was perfectly illustrated after I blew a .2 after only a couple of beers. I didn’t wait because I wanted to see what kind of reading I would get. In my experience, you probably don’t need to wait 20 minutes, but giving yourself at least five minutes after eating or drinking will provide a much more accurate reading.
While the AlcoMate Revo is geared towards law enforcement and providing an accurate reading for BAC, the documentation that comes with the device states that the Revo should not be used as a determining factor on whether or not to operate a motor vehicle. In a lot of ways, I see this as simply a way to avoid liability in the same vein as ThinkGeek’s Batarang “Letter Opener” disclaimer or other such items. These companies know that you’re going to use the product in exactly the way they recommend you not use it, they simply want to be sure that they cover themselves legally as they should. As I’ve stated several times already, your best option will always be to get a ride from a designated driver or cab/Uber/Lyft/etc. if you have been drinking. The AlcoMate Revo will let you tell the driver just how badly you need their services.
The Revo runs on two AAA batteries, and the included batteries have shown no signs of quitting during the testing I’ve done. Battery life will obviously depend on how many tests you run and how often you run those tests. It’s easy enough to find AAA batteries almost anywhere though, so batteries running out shouldn’t cause too much trouble.
As outlined above, the AlcoMate Revo comes in a hard foam padded case with an additional soft pouch and five mouthpieces for testing. For personal use, five mouthpieces should be more than enough as the mouthpieces are reusable. AlcoMate recommends cleaning the mouthpiece after each use, but there is no loss in accuracy caused by reusing the same mouthpiece. For law enforcement or other professional use cases, additional mouthpieces can be purchased.
The soft pouch is perfect for a little bit of added protection if you’re carrying your AlcoMate Revo in a backpack, purse, etc. though you’ll still want to be careful where you store it.
Priced at $249.95, the AlcoMate Revo won’t be an impulse buy for most people. With that said, the Revo is a capable device for anyone in need of a quality breathalyzer. The replaceable PRISM sensor adds convenience and consistent accuracy to a product that can be inconvenient and inaccurate if not properly serviced. Anyone looking for a fast, accurate, and compact breathalyzer should give the AlcoMate Revo a look.
Breathalyzers are kind of an interesting invention. Most of the time if you’re in the position where you are forced to use one, you really don’t want to, but if you aren’t forced it seems like the greatest idea ever. The absolute best idea is still not to drive if you’ve had anything to drink. But I think we all know that a personal breathalyzer is going to be used at least partially to form a baseline for whether or not a person can legally drive. I’ll admit, I had a blast sitting and watching myself get more and more inebriated during my testing. Getting to put a number to the level of intoxication was pretty fun too. While you may not absolutely need your own personal breathalyzer, if you’re the kind of person that drinks frequently, or if you and your friends get together for some beverages on a regular basis it might not be a bad investment.