Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Additional Responsibilities Of A Reviewer?

Recently, I read an article that advised those who review things - To Not just review or mention the good products...But, that the reviewer should also inform his readers of the bad products, the ones to avoid. I suppose I've always been reluctant to do this...
- Instead -
I'll write a post (soon) which will simply list all of the bat detectors which are good value, good pieces of kit, and which I would recommend to anyone. In other words - A complete list of any & all detectors (in all price ranges) which are known to be excellent products; which any buyer would be more-than-pleased with. 
I could easily indicate exactly which detectors to avoid (and why) if I were inclined to do so. But, I'm not. I will simply leave the bad ones off the list.

So, if you are considering the purchase of a bat detector; and the one you had in mind is not on the list: Avoid it! 

“Judicious omission is preferable to correct superfluity” - Walter Kidde

Happy bat detecting!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: Kaleidoscope Pro Software From Wildlife Acoustics Part 1 Of 2

Review: Kaleidoscope Pro Software From Wildlife Acoustics. Part 1 Of 2

First, I must apologize: This review should've been posted much sooner. I was away from home recently, searching for "battier pastures"... I forgot to pack my laptop's A/C adapter. So, I was unable to share all of the great screen captures I'd originally prepared. 

If you are interested in an automatic bat call identification package - Then I urge you to download the free 15-day trial of Kaleidoscope Pro. You get to try out the full version of this software for 15 days, which will give you an opportunity to fully test drive the package before you buy. Just to clarify: This is a fully-functioning trial version - Nothing is disabled or limited, as in other software trial downloads. As I'm sure many of you already know, this is not a common practice. Most of the time, trial versions of software applications are severely limited.

The offer from Wildlife Acoustics has recently been extended - The free trial download will be available until June 30th 2013.

Again, I urge you to visit the Page - Check out the amazing screen shots! Watch the video presentation by Guest Speaker David Riggs, etc. There is a lot to see and learn there! Especially, if you're considering the purchase of a license.

I have tested this application, and found it to be excellent in overall performance. As per the Wildlife Acoustics' Kaleidoscope Pro page: "Today we offer classifiers for 21 species of North American bats and 10 for the U.K.."
This is very impressive. I have compared it, to all of the other Auto Bat Call ID software packages; Including SonoBat. And, frankly it is one of the two best applications I have found. The other, being BCID.

Which is better?

In regards to features, performance, and ease of use: Kaleidoscope Pro is clearly "smoother around the edges" (more refined, etc.) than the other currently available packages out there.
Kaleidoscope Pro is clearly the winner between the two.

Kaleidoscope Pro currently retails for $1,499.00 (U.S. Dollars)
BCID's current price is $979.00 (U.S. Dollars)

Something else that is interesting, is that - In many ways, the two are somewhat similar: Both in the way they look, and the way they work. Which brings us to the next question; how does it look? Below is a screen capture of the first dialog box you see upon launching Kaleidoscope Pro.
By default, it opens up as a medium-sized dialog box. Here is a full view, enlarged (maximized Window) for a better look:

Kaleidoscope Pro Ver. 1.1.3

Here is a quick screen shot, of one of tonight's recordings (picked up with the new Avisoft USG 116Hnm) - Lots of color variations are possible, they are easily changed using slider controls:

 Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis)

At this point, I should probably re-iterate something here - For those who haven't seen my recent review of BCID software (from Bat Call Identification, Inc.) and that is - In the realm of automatic bat call identification software:
There are currently only two software packages that warrant consideration for purchase:

Kaleidoscope Pro -and- BCID.

There is also a third. I list and describe it separately here, since it is a free application. It is awesome; and works beautifully with The Batlogger series of bat detectors (from Elekon).
It is BatExplorer from Elekon AG. The good news, is it's free. The bad news is that:
American bat species are not currently included.

In summary:

Kaleidoscope Pro is a comprehensive, very well-made, software application. It also seems to have a bright future, with various advancements already planned...Frankly, I can't keep up with all the neat additions they've been making! Which is why this is going to be a two-Part post.

BCID gets the job done, almost as well. But, leaves some things to be desired. And, may even be considered to be lacking in a few (minor) areas.

BatExplorer works absolutely beautifully - With two caveats: 1. You must be using files produced by a Batlogger detector: In order for everything to work quickly, smoothly, and with the minimal number of mouse clicks -and-  2. No American bat species are covered.

The three companies listed above, are each very knowledgeable and dynamic. They pay attention to exactly what is needed by Bat Workers in the field; and do their best to tailor their software to suit their various needs. Wildlife Acoustics is chief among these. In regards to my use of the term 'Bat Workers' here - You may take this to include: Bat Biologists, Researchers, PhD's and soon-to-be PhD's. And generally anyone who works with these incredible mammals.

I have only reached these conclusions, after a lot of careful research. After studying user manuals, specifications, numerous field reports, other reviews (from those with more field experience than I), and a lot of correspondence with several Bat Working Professionals.

In other words, all other currently available bat call identification software has been thoroughly scrutinized by yours truly. 

EchoClass - Although free, is hardly good enough to be considered for any serious (accurate) results, etc. No technical support
SonoBat - Doesn't have a good "track record" or substantial following among bat workers. 
What I've learned from other owners, is that End User support leaves much to be desired.
For (one) example - In the recent past, I e-mailed almost a half-dozen questions (to SonoBat) that all went unanswered. Others have reported the same thing. This basically translates to - No technical support. 

Part 2 Of 2 Review Of Kaleidoscope Pro

Happy bat detecting!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Brand-New UltraSoundGate 116Hnm From Avisoft Bioacoustics

I'm very happy to report, that I've been given the opportunity to test and review the very latest ultrasonic device from Avisoft Bioacoustics - UltraSoundGate 116Hnm
The unit arrived earlier today. Wow! The device is ultra-compact, and very cool-looking! I've already finished reviewing all of the currently available documentation for it - This device will be serious competition for the other micro-sized, high-tech, super detectors on the horizon... 

There will also be an even smaller, Black Edition (Bk): Which will feature sampling rates of 750, 500, and 375 kHz - Amazing! The only other bat recording device that I can think of, featuring such a high sample rate is the Pettersson D1000X (at 768 kHz). 

Unit pictured below, with a CF Memory card for size reference (includes a unique USB cable) 

I'm looking forward to reviewing it!

Happy bat detecting!

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Upcoming Post...Will Feature The Best Bat Detectors!

It is May 6th, 2013 and bat detecting season is upon us in the Northern hemisphere of the World. For some reason, I feel compelled, even obligated, to state exactly what the best bat detector models are.

As I stated in a recent blog entry, an upcoming post will feature The Best bat detectors!
It will be entitled 'The Best Of The Best Bat Detectors'

It's time to leave some of the mystery behind...
It's time to take the guesswork out of the decision process...
I'll be addressing a very popular question: "Which is the best bat detector for my budget?"
I will not be utilizing any colourful charts. Although, I'll admit - That even I enjoy some of those comparison charts from time to time...

I will be listing the best bat detectors, in each of the following three major price categories: $2k-$2500, $1k-$1,500 and $150-$500 (U.S. Dollars) - Although I'll probably list prices in other major currencies (listing prices in Euros, and U.K. Pounds as well).

Happy bat detecting!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Need For Un-biased, Bat Detector Review Blogs

It recently occurred to me, that when I first started this blog, there weren't many like it out there. 
There seemed to be a need for an honest, un-biased, bat detector review blog - One that was almost all-inclusive. Something concise and detailed - Which included (or aspired to include) all of the different bat detectors from all around the World.

So, I'd like to make something else clear - Just because I haven't had the opportunity to perform a hands-on test and review of a particular bat detector - Does not mean that I haven't researched it extensively. There are several well-known/World-class instruments which may not be featured. Please don't presume that I've neglected to research a particular bat detector, simply because a full, detailed review doesn't appear on this blog.

The fact is, that I carefully study all of the currently available documentation for just about each bat detecting device in existence. The only exceptions, being the devices that don't have any detailed documentation available. For example - A device such as the Nanobat: There is really only one page of documentation available; a PDF Here.

There is practically no bat detector out there, that is too "minor", too remote, or too obscure for me to overlook...
What I mean by "studying" documentation, most times translates into reading a full 250 to 500 pages. Which typically include: Manufacturer Specifications, User Manual, Case studies, Field reports from Professional Bat Workers/Researchers, Comparisons/Findings made during past (and recent) Surveys, etc. Many of these documents are written by PhD.'s. Most are difficult to find and/or obtain. But, again, for me: It's just what I do - A labour of love.
Again, the point of all this, is just to illustrate how thorough I am when it comes to bat detector research. I consider myself dedicated and persistent, and it probably helps to have a healthy obsession with bat detectors. 

"Always tell the truth - it's the easiest thing to remember" - David Mamet

Happy bat detecting!

General Thoughts About Active (handheld) Bat Detectors Part 2 of 2

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