Tried And Tested: Cardo Packtalk EDGEPHONES ORV Review - SUV VEHICLE

Tried And Tested: Cardo Packtalk EDGEPHONES ORV Review

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Summary

  • Cardo’s EDGEPHONES offer full duplex connectivity and crystal-clear sound for off-roaders to stay connected.
  • JBL speakers and noise-canceling technology provide effective communication in rugged environments.
  • While range is limited compared to two-way radios, DMC architecture ensures stable connections for group communication.



More Americans than ever are spending their weekends in the boondocks riding UTVs and side-by-sides. Cardo’s latest offering aims to help off-roaders stay connected. Better known for its pioneering Bluetooth communications for motorcyclists, Cardo is applying its technology to connect people in non-helmet applications. The new Packtalk EDGEPHONES offer the same point-to-point, duplex connectivity and all the functionality of Cardo’s EDGE helmet system to stay connected on the trails, or with your students, or your team, without fear of VHF interference.

The EDGEPHONES use Cardo’s proprietary Dynamic Mesh technology to connect up to 15 people with two-way intercoms. Smartphone connectivity and hands-free voice-activated commands enable users to stay connected while listening to their favorite tunes or FM radio and to send and receive telephone calls (where cellular reception is available). The noise-canceling EDGEPHONES use JBL speakers, which offer crystal-clear sound. With an MSRP of $489.95, they aren’t cheap, but do they offer value for money?


To give you the most genuine and unbiased review possible, every product we review is tested daily throughout the normal course of day-to-day life for a period of no less than one week.

Cardo PackTalk EDGEPHONES

The Cardo Packtalk EDGEPHONES ORV, designed for off-roaders and motorsport enthusiasts, offer advanced communication technology beyond helmet applications. Utilizing Cardo’s Dynamic Mesh technology, these headphones connect up to 15 people via two-way intercoms. They feature smartphone connectivity, voice-activated commands, and JBL speakers for high-quality sound, integrating all the attributes of the PackTalk EDGE helmet system.

Cardo’s first purpose-built non-helmet communication system offers a sleek design and robust construction. They include a detachable microphone, USB-C cable, and a protective case. The PackTalk EDGE system is also compatible with a helmet kit for helmet applications. The EDGEPHONES offer effective noise cancellation and a comfortable, though tight, fit. They support easy smartphone pairing and over-the-air software updates. The interface is user-friendly with soft-touch buttons and voice commands, though voice recognition can be imprecise.

While Bluetooth connectivity is robust up to about a half-mile, its range is limited compared to traditional two-way radios, especially in obstructed environments. However, the DMC architecture provides stable connections and reconnections. The IP67-rated control unit and weather-resistant design ensure durability and excellent battery life affords all-day use. The Cardo Packtalk EDGEPHONES offer a sophisticated, rugged solution for group communication in off-road settings and a single control unit, readily transferable between headphone and helmet applications.

Brand
Cardo

Model
EDGEPHONES ORV

Mounting Hardware
Magnetic Shoe

Microphone Format
Hybrid Noise Filtering / Detachable

Headphone Type
Over-Ear

Battery Type
3.7V Lithium-Ion

Connection type
Bluetooth V5.2

Weight
9.2 oz.

Dimensions
8.27 x 6.30 x 3.15 inches
Pros
  • JBL speakers provide excellent sound quality
  • Full duplex connectivity offers natural communication
  • Passive sound reduction limits harsh background noise
  • Robust design and excellent battery life
  • Easily switch between headphone and helmet applications
Cons
  • Pricey solution for families
  • Headset’s tight fit takes some getting used to
  • Voice command system sometimes confuses “on” and “off”
  • Half-mile effective range

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Cardo Packtalk EDGEPHONES ORV First Impressions

Cardo’s first generation of non-helmet comms, the PACKTALK Headphones, worked pretty well but looked like an off-the-shelf headset retrofitted with a helmet communications unit. The new built-for-purpose EDGEPHONES were designed from the ground up, and offer the sleek integration and robust finishing we have come to expect from Cardo. Color-matched, compact, and fully adjustable, the new headset neatly folds up for easy storage in the included protective travel case. Also included are a detachable, flexible, boom microphone and a USB-C charging cable.


Cardo developed the EDGEPHONES around their latest top-of-the-line communications system, the PackTalk EDGE. This system provides the same feature-rich experience as the PackTalk NEO we recently tested. However, instead of using a traditional clickable shoe mounting, the “Air Mount” Packtalk EDGE features a powerful magnet to secure the control unit in place. This design facilitates using the same EDGE control unit with the supplied headphones for non-helmet applications or attached to a helmet using Cardo’s helmet mounting accessory kit. The $130 helmet kit includes dedicated JBL speakers, a microphone boom, and a magnet shoe mount.

How It Feels To Wear The Packtalk EDGEPHONES

Cardo Packtalk Edgephones on model
Guy Pickrell


The EDGEPHONES use passive noise-canceling but still weigh about the same as premium, active noise-canceling, over-ear headphones. They also offer a similar level of noise reduction (around 15dB), which is highly effective at countering harsh background sounds such as a screaming parallel-twin UTV engine or a two-stroke dirtbike.

The padded, swivel-mounted cans and the adjustable padded headband adapt to almost any head size, providing a precise, comfortable fit. However, it is a tight fit, which, on the one hand, ensured the headset remained in place when bouncing around over rough terrain, but on the other hand, felt like it could become an issue over long periods of continued use.

Smartphone Connectivity and Pairing

Cardo Packtalk Edgephones smartphone connectivity

Downloading the free Cardo app enables smartphone connectivity, and pairing the EDGEPHONES was a breeze. With the unit charged and mounted, press and hold the pairing button for five seconds and pair from your smartphone’s Bluetooth screen in the usual way. Once connected, you’ll have access to your music library and telephone contacts, for listening to tunes and making calls on the fly.


Over-the-air software updates mean you never have to plug your EDGE unit into a PC. Make sure you have an internet connection when you turn the system on for the first time and the EDGEPHONES will automatically download the latest software. This is also a good time to use the Cardo app to select your fast-dial telephone preferences, add your favorite FM radio stations, and adjust your preferred sound and microphone settings.

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Interface and Usability

Cardo Packtalk Edgephones - Edge Control Unit
Guy Pickrell


Virtually all of the EDGE’s functions are controllable using its three multifunctional soft-touch buttons and clickable wheel or with hands-free voice commands. Although there are over twenty voice commands, they are intuitively named and easier to remember than the numerous button control sequences. For example, turning the music on is achieved by clicking the leading button or by saying, “Hey Cardo, music on.” Playing the previous track requires two presses of the same button, or simply saying, “Hey Cardo, next track.”

Cardo says it has improved its voice-activated software to better recognize commands, and, in practice, the system responded accurately most of the time, although it occasionally confused “on” and “off.” Even if you forget some of the Cardo commands, your smartphone’s standard “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” also works. Recorded verbal feedback helped keep us on track, confirming choices and battery status. We also noted that the boom-mounted noise-filtering microphone is great at reducing interference but must be located close to the mouth to work effectively.


Packtalk EDGEPHONES Vs Two-Way Radios

Cardo Packtalk Edgephones folding headphones
Guy Pickrell

At short range, Bluetooth signals suffer almost no interference and can penetrate walls and windows without degradation. For in-car communications, the EDGEPHONES offer unparalleled intercom capabilities and features. Equipped with Bluetooth’s robust point-to-point connectivity, the PackTalk EDGE delivers private, full-duplex communication and, coupled with the noise-canceling headphones and sound-filtering microphone, ensures users can comfortably talk in their normal voices and still be heard clearly. Additionally, individuals can listen to their own music while maintaining their connection with the group.


For inter-car communications, beyond the reach of cellphone networks, two-way radios have been the off-roader’s go-to solution for years, and even a relatively cheap walkie-talkie will offer a mile or two of range within line-of-sight; far more than the half mile offered by the Bluetooth EDGEPHONES. Nevertheless, off-roading rarely offers line-of-sight communication over long distances, and affordable two-way radios that don’t require a license aren’t private and don’t permit full-duplex communication (i.e. talking simultaneously), which can soon become frustrating with more than two users.

Cardo Packtalk Edgephones Carry Case
Guy Pickrell


Like two-way radios, the EDGEPHONES’s effective range depends upon the geography you’re traveling through. In our experience, with line-of-sight and in good weather conditions, we achieved clear comms at over half a mile apart. Nevertheless, beyond a quarter-mile, losing line-of-sight due to a solid obstruction, such as a dune or rocky outcrop, will likely result in a loss of communication. However, one of the major benefits offered by Cardo’s system is the DMC architecture. Rather than relying on a simple daisy chain of connections, DMC connects users independently of one another. Its ‘self-healing’ properties mean that members of a comms group that fall out of range will seamlessly reconnect when back in range and will stay connected to any group members that remain within their range.

Practical Features

Cardo Packtalk Edgephones for Off-road instructors
Cardo


Designed to withstand the elements, the Packtalk EDGE control unit is rated IP67 by the International Electrotechnical Commission and can withstand complete water immersion at low pressures for short periods. The EDGEPHONES also offer a high degree of water resistance and protection from dust and, although we can’t attest to their longevity, their sturdy finishing, robust design, and replaceable padding promise to withstand significant wear and tear.

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