Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: The New AnaBat Express From Titley Scientific Part 1 Of 2

Review: The New AnaBat Express From Titley Scientific

The AnaBat Express, is the very latest passive bat monitoring solution from Titley.
It is a fully weatherproof machine, for collecting ultrasonic recordings of bats.

My Nephew, Gabriel, seems to like The AnaBat Express too

It's no secret, that this passive monitoring solution, is in direct competition with the (SMZC) offering from Wildlife Acoustics. 

I knew that the time would come, when I'd have to address this subject. There's certainly no way around this topic. It just so happens, that the Review most recently published here, was of The SMZC.
Many Ecologists, Bat Workers, Researchers, et al, will be narrowing their choices down to these two solutions. Both are formidable.
So, we may as well get it out in the open, straight away.

I do not intend for this review to be a direct "Shoot-out" between the two, but rather more like an informative summary; which will aid those faced with the task of choosing between the two. With the goal of (hopefully) making the decision process a lot easier.

The brand-new AnaBat Express records bat calls in zero crossing format, directly to a removable SD card. The recorded ultrasounds are intended to be analyzed afterwards, utilizing Titley's free downloadable software packages - Specifically, AnalookW.
AnaBat Toolbox is also a very helpful, and well laid-out application, developed to help you with manipulation of recorded data. It is also free. User Manuals may also be conveniently downloaded, via the Menus on this Link. All of the most current / up-to-date downloadable applications, and even firmware, may be found on This Titley Link.

The AnaBat Express arrived well-packaged. To give you an idea, of what type of packaging to expect, when your Anabat Express arrives. see Photo below:

Un-Boxing The AnaBat Express.

For users who prefer direct Links: AnaBat ToolBox 1.16  - And -  AnalookW 1.4t

The AnaBat Express, inside it's carry case.

I like the small size of this unit, very easy to handle (I was able to hold it in one hand).
Being a unit primarily designed for passive / unattended bat recording; The AnaBat Express isn't what one would call "Feature rich". Opening the unit, the user will quickly attest to it's economy on buttons. There are 2: A 'Power' and a 'Select' button.
To be fair, they are just about all I've ever needed. 
I am fond of the blue LED indicators; the fact that they aren't too bright is also a plus for those in the field (they are not so bright as to ruin one's night-adapted vision). 

The AnaBat Express, secured in it's custom case

The design is rather nice - The exterior of this unit is produced in a (very effective) camouflaged finish. When the unit is closed; it's really closed.
The system is very compact; yet has the ability to hold the microphone in a (foam-lined) slot (when not in use). There is also a black plastic cap provided, to screw onto the microphone port, to protect the opening from the elements. It also stores inside the Express. 
The essential equipment, which also benefits from the impenetrable housing includes:
  • The on-board (built-in) GPS unit
  • The SD Card Slot
  • Mini-USB connector 
  • 4 AA-Sized (LR6) batteries 
Not to be neglected...There is also a memory/system clock back-up battery (CR2032) and a Lid Switch; which informs the system (and logs) each time you open/close the unit.

Using the unit is very straightforward and yes, easy! Talk about quick deployment...The AnaBat Express rates very highly in this area. The only drawback I encountered while having tested and used the unit, was the delay in acquiring GPS lock. However, Titley cautions the user regarding this possibly, throughout their documentation. Which, I found admirable.
Another feature which I really like, is the 'Instructions for use'.
Just below the small 'SN 324XXX' (serial number) sticker, is a very useful sticker, with simple instructions for the deployment of this unit. Very neat!

Amoung those who would be most interested in The AnaBat Express, would be someone for whom quick deployment is paramount. Obviously, this product would prove useful to Bat Workers and Ecologists, needing a reliable bat recording device. But the small size of the Express, would allow each Professional to easily carry more than a few in a back-pack, etc. An AnaBat Express, with batteries installed, is surprisingly light. This translates into the ability to deploy many units, without the need for many people.  

So far, I have no complaints. I've used this unit for overnight recording of bat activity, on every good night (with weather cooperating). And, I like the fact that (I've found) it -- Quick to set-up. It's very sensitive in response to bat calls, but doesn't record too many false triggers -- As compared to other bat recorders in general. 

This (Part 1) section of The Anabat Express review, is actually still in progress -- Watch this space for some comprehensive changes and additions...I've also just been informed, that a new firmware update will be (automatically) released for it. When you connect your Express to your computer via USB cable & open AnaBat Toolbox: You'll have the opportunity to update your firmware.
The unit itself, has been working wonderfully. I have no complaints, or issues to report.

Much more to follow, in Part 2 of 2!

Happy bat detecting!

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