I’ve started to see more and more people using mobile breathalyzers when out for a night on the town. When I got the chance to review the Alcohoot personal breathalyzer, I jumped at the chance. Personal breathalyzers have been around for awhile, but they have really been more for entertainment than safety purposes. I was eager to see how far the devices have come and to see if it is worth investing in an Alcohoot.
The Alcohoot is just a bit bigger than a Zippo lighter so it can fit in just about any pocket or purse. It should work with any Android or iOS device, as long as you have a 3.5mm port and download the companion app. This really makes the Alcohoot easy to carry on a night out. Even if you don’t use the breathalyzer feature, the Alcohoot can help you find restaurants close to you or taxis to get you safely home. For $99 there are a ton of features packed into the Alcohoot. But, we’re all here for the breathalyzer so onto the testing.
My first test of the Alcohoot took place during a night at home with friends. There were two reasons for this: the first was to use the controlled environment of my home to learn how to use the device properly. The second reason was to gauge the accuracy of the Alcohoot. I was able to get my hands on a police issue breathalyzer, an Intoxilyzer S-D5. This gave me a really good idea how the Alcohoot compares to an expensive professional device. After the first night of testing, I have to admit to being impressed by the Alcohoot. Everyone found it easy to use and it was surprisingly accurate for a breathalyzer that fits in your pocket.
The second night of testing took my Alcohoot, friends and me to a local bar. This allowed me to test the Alcohoot in a real world environment and confirm the accuracy found in the controlled environment of my home. Everyone knows how dark and crowded bars can be so I was interested to see if that hurt the usability of the Alcohoot. Overall, things went well. Again, the Alcohoot was easy to use and gave consistent readings compared to the professional unit. In fact, at one point I attracted a small crowd of people who wanted to try the device. It even helped my friends and I find a place to eat, within walking distance, when we were done at the bar.
The Alcohoot was pretty accurate for such a small device, but more importantly it was consistent. The Alcohoot almost always gave readings within a few points of the more expensive, professional unit. For example, a friend blew a 0.023 on the police unit, then seconds later blew a 0.030 on the Alcohoot. While the Alcohoot read higher, it always gave a consistently higher reading. It never gave a higher reading than the professional unit, then a lower reading the next go around. This consistency is one of the best parts of the Alcohoot. While I would never recommend or condone using an Alcohoot to see if you’re able to drive, at least you can use it to monitor yourself. The Alcohoot has a nifty feature called the SmartLine. This is a limit you can impose on yourself when drinking. If you don’t like the person you turn into when you drink too much, you can adjust the SmartLine to warn you when you get too close to your personally imposed limit.
There are a couple negatives that I need to mention. First, the way the Alcohoot plugs into the 3.5mm port can make using the device difficult to use. If your phone has a 3.5mm port in an odd place or you use a bulky case it could render the Alcohoot useless. It really seems like using Bluetooth to connect the Alcohoot and your phone would be a better option. Secondly, the plastic mouth pieces that you blow into sit very loosely in the unit. This lead to more than a couple lost mouth pieces in the dark bar. You can order more, but that could get expensive if you spend a lot of time in bars (10 extra mouth pieces cost $7.99).
Although I had a positive experience with the Alcohoot, I feel I need to point out that these personal device are not perfect. Even the police don’t rely on their handheld breathalyzers for perfect readings. The Alcohoot should not be used to decide if you’re too drunk to drive. IF YOU ARE, IN ANYWAY IMPAIRED, DO NOT DRIVE!!! Try using the Alcohoot’s taxi feature and get a ride home from the bar. However, if you are looking for a personal breathalyzer to monitor your drinking, the Alcohoot would be a great option. It has a ton of useful features packed into a tiny, nicely designed package you can carry anywhere.