I know this isn't a metal detector...BUT it is COOL!
It is also the creation of Night Owl Optics, a sister company of Fisher and Teknetics, who are metal detector manufacturers...the metal detector manufacturer connection, and the sheer coolness of night vision is more than enough reason for me to write up a review on the iGen 20/20!
Who hasn't dreamed of being able to see in the dark? It ranks right up there with breathing underwater and flying with a jetpack! The incredibly cool iGen 20/20 does indeed let you peer clearly into the darkness...not only that, but you can take photos of your nocturnal adventures as well!
Most of my readers may not realize I spent nearly 20 years in law enforcement prior to my current career. Being the resident PC nerd and gadget junkie, I was always involved in new technology grants and purchases. Years ago, I spent time learning how to operate a "Generation 1" night vision scope. The thing felt like it weighed 30 pounds and had a big, bright green, CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) that you had to peer into. Battery life was abysmal and I spent hours doing "double takes" trying to figure out if you could really see anything with it that you couldn't see without it! Man, oh man...has technology improved! Let's check out the iGen 20/20!
First of all, it's a nice stealthy black...and has a nice rubberized texture that helps ya keep your grip. The iGen feels very rugged and professional. The lens and manual focus system seems to be using high quality components.
On top, you'll find 2 oval shaped buttons: the first button (closest to the eye piece) has several functions. first press powers the unit on...subsequent presses will activate the IR (infrared) LED spotlight (the smaller thing you see beside the larger lens). Depressing the first button for around 3 seconds powers off the iGen.
There are 3 settings for the infrared lamp:
- Auto: (The iGen will actually measure available light, and throttle illumination power!)
- Full: The iGen 20/20 IR LED is cranked to the max...and it is powerful!
- Low: Bottom LED power setting, and offers the maximum power savings.
I have found that "auto" does an outstanding job of adjusting to my needs...whether I'm stalking a possum around the yard in inky blackness, or looking under my bed in the daytime trying to find my lost pair of shoes. The iGen allows daytime usage by ingeniously including a lens cap with a small hole...this limits the light input and keeps the circuitry from over exposing the image.
As with all powerful Infrared LED lights, there can be a "tell-tale" red glow (faint, but visible) to the human eye. Luckily, the iGen has a passive mode which allows you to disable the IR LED and be totally "stealthy"! The exposure control in the iGen will still allow you to "see" amazingly well using only available light from the moon or stars. I spent quite a bit of time using only available light...I was ASTOUNDED with how clearly I could see cows in a neighboring field in (to the naked eye) total darkness! Controlling the exposure with a small thumb wheel "switch" just below the eyepiece is easy to do on the fly...allowing you to tweak the iGen for conditions.
The second button, when held for 3 seconds, activates the internal camera! Taking photos in total darkness is pretty amazing! I had a little fun capturing some pics of my domesticated critters while the lights were out.... (this is using the built-in IR lamp). The included memory card holds a lot of photos, and plugs right into my multimedia reader on my PC for copying.
Photos are in black and white, which is just as well since color only happens when you have "light".
There are a ton of adjustments available on the iGen. Most are accessed via a three-way thumb switch below the eyepiece.
Here are some of the options available:
- IR on or off on startup (useful for super-stealthiness!)
- Gain- 10 different "gain" settings...this is the light amplification adjustment.
- Color - the iGen allows you to view the image as: White, Green, Blue and Red. White and Green seemed to suit me the best for discerning details.
- Brightness- 4 settings...how bright the view is in the eyepiece
- Exposure- Think about this in terms of shutter speed...you can manually control this so that you can see amazingly well in EXTREMELY low light conditions! The refresh speed will slow down in the eyepiece, but Wow! If you're using slow exposure to take photos, it's probably a good idea to use the tripod mount that is on the belly of the iGen to help stabilize things.
- Video Format- When you're recording using the built-in video jack, you can choose whether to output as NTSC (U.S. standard) or PAL (European standard)
- Date and Time- This allows photos to be date/time stamped when it's set. Another cool feature...you have 15 minutes to replace the batteries before you lose your date and time settings!
I gotta tell ya...I wish I had one of these when I was still in Law Enforcement! The iGen is MILES ahead of the multi-thousand dollar gear we used years ago...and at a fraction of the price! The unique technology employed by First Texas in this device is absolutely astounding...I have had a blast playing with it!
Here are some iGen advantages as listed in the owners manual:
- The World's only night vision system with integrated photographic capability
- Better image quality with high, 30-line-pair per millimeter, edge-to-edge display resolution
- Better image quality with no image distortion from photocathode or phosphorescent screen blemishes
- Easier diopter focusing
- Two-times the sensitivity to infrared light, useful in total darkness with the aid of the infrared emitter
- Intelligent infrared emitter. Microprocessor automatically adjusts infrared intensity and electronic gain to optimize image to changing ambient light conditions
- Undistorted infrared emitter- bright clear scene illumination with no dark spots and no uneven light patterns
- Ambient light amplification higher than generation-1 technology at default exposure. Light amplification capability superior to Generation-3 with the use of exposure control
- Easy-connect video capture capability through composite video output
- Bright-light see-through capability. No bright-spot blooming or halo-effect typical with conventional night vision
- More robust. No risk of damage from bright light exposure. No fragile vacuum tubes.
ANGLE OF VIEW: 12 DEG
FIELD OF VIEW: 70' AT 330'
RESOLUTION: EDGE TO EDGE 30 LP/MM
POWER SUPPLY: 4 AA Batteries
DIMENSIONS: 9" X 4" X 2.5"
* Ambient light amplification of 650 times
* Works day or night
* Variable Frame Rate - user adjustable exposure time to enhance light gathering capability. From 2 fps to 30 fps
* Infrared Intelligence - 3 modes. Wattage adjusts automatically as needed for varying levels of darkness
* Variable display brightness
* Enhanced infrared sensitivity, double that of intensifier tube technology
* Clarity across the screen - edge to edge
* Programmable time out features
* Color output choices
* Video composite output
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