Bering Optics Urban Patrol
We’ve been impressed with the performance of the relatively cheap Bering Optics GT-14 Gen 2+ monocular, but this company has an even cheaper option for people who are not planning on using a helmet mounted solution.
In the world of night vision, you either go super-cheap and not regret the money spent if the performance is not great, or you need to spend good money, to get a device with good enough parameters that’s actually useful in situations of low light. Digital night vision is a way to get a decent performance and a much lower price, but with some caveats.
This is exactly what Urban Patrol is.
All digital night vision needs an active source of IR light, so does this particular visor. At the front, you can see two lens. One objective lens for the sensor, and the second for the active IR light illumination. Light intensity can be adjusted using the IR button, and there are 7 levels of it. Each press of the button increases it and allows to see even further.
Then, we have a ZOOM button, that gives three levels of magnification between 1x and 2x. Useful for observation purposes. The MODE button allows to switch between photo, video or menu options.
This allows us to either take photo stills or record a video. Great for showing off your night adventures!
At the front of the device, we can find a focus ring—very easy to use.
All the photos and videos are stored on a micro SD card and can be transferred to a computer directly with the card or we can hook up the Urban Patrol to a computer with the provided USB cable.
Additionally, there’s a cable and a composite video port allowing to connect it to a TV, so that we can watch all the recorded material directed on the TV screen. It’s not HDMI though, so make sure your TV still supports this video port. It’s a quite dated solution I’d say.
How does it perform?
Not too bad. It is a digital and fairly inexpensive device, but we’ve managed to get decent range and did not even have to go all the way up with the IR illumination.
The resolution of the photos and videos is 640x480, so don’t expect to see all the details perfectly. At night it records in black and white. It’s good enough for observation and identification purposes though. Oh, did I mention that it’s absolutely fine to use this device during the day? Photos and videos captured in full light are stored in full colour. It’s not the latest GoPro camera, and the images coming off the sensor lack vibrant and saturation and are pretty full of noise.
It’s worth noting that the splash from the IR illuminator is barely visible to the human eye, so that’s a good thing. At the same time, the user has to keep in mind that the active IR illumination will be visible like a powerful flashlight to other users with night vision.
Would we recommend the device? It depends. For somebody who dabbles with night vision and does not want to spend a lot, this might be a fun device to use with many useful features. For someone more serious, we’d rather recommend choosing the real night vision technology with image intensification tubes such as Lunox for a monocular or DTNVG for goggles as those devices sport top of the line generation 2 and generation 3 image intensifiers.