Scala Cardo Packtalk - Tested 28 July 17

The Cardo Scala Rider Packtalk utilizes innovative new technology that improves communications between riders in a group. This new DMC (Dynamic Mesh Communication) technology has the ability to connect you to up to 15 other riders using Packtalk units and achieve a number of things. Firstly: extend the range between the first and last rider as the units will piggyback the communications, but the smart thing with DMC is that you can rearrange the order you ride in and the Packtalk system re-assembles itself into the same order to keep the range at its utmost. Secondly; when you create a group of riders, that group can splinter off as individuals or as a smaller group and the original group is not broken and the new group remains as a group. When the riders reunite the DMC system re-connects everyone together again.

Install
Getting the Packtalk system into a helmet is relatively simple and the mounting clip for the communicator unit has a spring that slides over the base of the helmet to hold the plate securely in place. For those helmets that are unable to use the clip there is an alternative mounting plate that sticks on the outside of the helmet shell. The liner of the helmet is removed so the wires for the speakers can be routed over the head and the speakers are positioned into the helmet's ear pockets, then held in place using hook and loop fasteners. The cable for the microphone is similarly routed and depending on the type of mic you are using the base of the boom or the mic itself is fastened in place with hook and loop fasteners. A boom mic and cable mic are included depending if you are using a modular or open-face helmet or a full face helmet respectively. It is important to locate the mic directly in front of your mouth as possible as it is quite sensitive and needs to be close to your voice. Once everything is in place it is time to get on the bikes and try out the system.

Set up
This communication system is pretty complex so you will need to invest some time reading the manual to work out just what they will do. We still have a lot to learn about this system but the main things we wanted it do are pretty easy to set up.
The first thing to do is to pair the units together. This is done by setting up one Packtalk unit as the Pack Creator, once this is done you go though the pairing sequence for each unit until they are all paired to it. You can connect them in one of two modes; one mode is Bluetooth and is indicated by a blue flashing LED, which gives you a limited feature set but allows other brands comms systems to be connected, the other mode is DMC mode, which gives the full featured mesh experience and is indicated by a green LED.
The next function we all liked and used is the ability to pair the units to our phones. To be able to converse with others outside of the rider group via your phone is great, and when the app is used it is even easier. With the phone connected you are also connected to all it's audio features. Listening to your music playlist is marvelous, and if you belong to a streaming music service you have unlimited music in your helmet, as long as you have a data connection. For more music options the Packtalk has a built-in FM radio that you can pre-tune to your favorite stations. You can even share your music with others in your group, which is great assuming you have the same taste in music. To help with setting up the Packtalk, especially if you forget something, there is a mobile friendly website that looks like an app and gives a lot of useful information.

Cardo SmartSet app
The Smartset app for the Packtalk is a real pleasure to use, and is available for both iPhone and Android. It has large glove friendly buttons, as long as your gloves have capacitive touch capability for use with touch screens. Pretty much all of the Packtalk's functions can be controlled with the app, including the setting up of groups, the setting of radio stations, the playback of music and controlling your phone. The app works in both landscape or portrait mode, which I found useful as I use my GPS app in landscape mode too.

In Use
The Packtalk units have a large scroll roller that controls the volume and features a push to click feature that is used for other menu functions. Is very easy to use with gloves on and gives good feedback. There are three other buttons on the unit; the top one controls the intercom, the bottom one controls the phone and the front one controls the audio. They are more like places on the unit to press rather than buttons and were easier to use than expected, especially with gloves on.
The audio quality is good and, we happily chatted and listened to music on our mountain rides. We found that in DMC mode there was a very slight delay in the conversation but the advantages of the mesh when there are more than two riders connected outweighs that. The range of the units is very good and when we were riding in a group of three we could keep in contact with a range of about a mile between the front and back riders. This was on an open straight road and did diminish on the curvy mountain roads, but was still good enough for our style of riding. The unit's batteries lasted for our all day rides and were charged every night to make sure we had comms the next day.

Conclusion
The Cardo Scala Rider Packtalk system is a remarkable example of technology that will benefit motorcycle riders in groups. The ability to change places in the group positioning and the ease of reconnecting makes them a good purchase. We liked the core functions of the Packtalk that work very well, some of the more complex functions may be more than we need but we will explore those in due course. The Packtalks when combined with their app makes them much easier to use and I would highly recommend this system for the pack riders out there.

Price
Scala Rider Packtalk single unit: $329.95
Scala Rider Packtalk duo units: $579.95

For more info: Click here

For Cardo's Scala Rider Packtalk tutorial videos: Click here

 

 

 


 

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