In this review we are going to check out an innovation on an older technology that could really be quite useful to a wide range of people; including contractors, do-it-yourselfers, and even computing enthusiasts. Thermal imaging has been around for quite some time, but it has remained out of reach of the masses due to the cost prohibitive nature of the technology. At Bigbruin.com we have done a handful of articles using a borrowed thermal imager to analyze the hot spots on computer components (like these ASUS
brand video cards), but considering the Flir Ti-32 thermal imaging device used in those articles sells for about $8000, your typical enthusiast is not going to be buying one simply to see where extra cooling should be added to the PC components.
has developed a series of devices that allow you to harness the power of thermal imaging at a much more palatable price range. We will be checking out one of their CompactPro thermal imagers designed to work with your Android mobile phone. As you can see in the image above, this little device connects to your phone via the USB port; and with a free mobile app it uses the screen, processing power, and flash memory of your phone in conjunction with the CompactPro's 320x240 thermal sensor. For $499, the CompactPro is a much more affordable thermal imaging solution than the Fluke Ti-32, which also happens to have a 320x240 sensor.
Before taking a closer look at the sample provided for review, let's check out some of the published data on the CompactPro as taken from the official product page
on the Seek Thermal website...
Features and Specifications:
» 320 x 240 High-Resolution Thermal Sensor - 76,800 temperature pixels for maximum image clarity and sensitivity
» Adjustable Emissivity and Radiometric Files - Calibrate for reflective surfaces when accuracy is critical and store
every temperature pixel
» Wide, 32-Degree Field of View - Easily scan a large area to identify potential hazards in seconds
» Focusable Lens for Quick Identification - Aim and focus from 6 inches to 1,800 feet for the sharpest image
» Utilizes the Power and Display of Your Smartphone - Intuitive, free mobile app available on Google Play and
iTunes App Store
» Waterproof Case that Protects - Comes with its own waterproof case to withstand the elements
» Thermal Level and Span - Easily set and lock a temperature range to display the maximum thermal information
of any object or scene with a set point and range.
» Emissivity Control - Calibrate for emissivity through easy, pre-defined settings. Compensate for various surface
materials, ensuring accurate readings and reporting.
» New Image Color Palettes - Enhanced palette options provide the visual capabilities necessary to help users
easily examine and understand thermal imagery.
» Full Frame Thermography - Choose from 4:3 or 16:9 formats displaying all temperature data for the maximum
clarity and options responsive to your device format and size.
» Complete with 7 User Modes including: Spot temperature, High / Low temperature, Level and Span, Above Threshold,
Below Threshold, Equal Threshold, and Thermal+ Visible.
» *Radiometric File Format - Coming soon, the ability Store 76,800 pixels of thermal measurements for post-analysis
As mentioned, we are going to look at the CompactPro for Android, but there is also a version designed for use with modern iPhone devices. And while the $499 price tag is definitely appealing when compared to the overall market of thermal imagers, there is an even more budget friendly offering in the series... The Seek Thermal Compact. For $249 you get a very similar device which happens to have two main difference; a lower resolution 206x156 (instead of 320x240) and a smaller range of 1000ft (instead of 1800ft).
The final bullet point in the list above - *Radiometric File Format
- being listed as a feature that is coming soon is definitely a big one. With the higher end thermal imagers you can take your saved file and at any time you can analyze every pixel to get thermal information. Presently, the CompactPro gives you thermal information as you are taking the images and will only record the temperatures you are targeting at the time (perhaps one point or high/low, for example).