Customer Reviews

565
3.7 out of 5 stars
BACtrack Keychain Breathalyzer Portable Keyring Breath Alcohol Tester, Black
Color: BlackChange
Price:$28.94 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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336 of 352 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
The Keychain Breathalyzer is really a great value, but like any measuring device, you HAVE to understand a little science and how to properly use it.

When I first got this little doodad, I put the battery in and went hog playing around with it, drinking with some buddies.

The next day, it started acting really funny. It would turn on and start counting down, and then shut off almost immediately. If I left it alone for several hours, I could do a test, but then it was unable to do another test. Sometimes I could do a test and it gave me the 'Lo' message. I thought the battery was dead. I checked the battery with a volt meter, and the battery didn't look dead at all. I thought I got a lemon... and then I got a new battery. Now it's fine.

To those who have seen the "it was working great the first night, and then it quit on me" reviews, this is what's going on:

RELIABILITY:

This device seems power hungry, and I have a feeling that the AAA battery can't immediately produce the power it needs, so it needs to harvest the energy slowly while not in use so that it can do a test. I didn't like that this behavior isn't explicitly explained in the manual. The manual does say to wait a few minutes between tests. If you don't follow this, it will actually kill the battery. If you played with it non-stop all night and it won't work anymore on a seemingly good battery, replace the battery and use it properly. It will function perfectly. This is something that should be clearly addressed in the manual, and I think would eliminate the negative reviews that I have seen.

Realize, this device was designed for a responsible drinker who wants to stay safe. That person will use it perhaps 4 times at most throughout an evening.

ACCURACY:

I've never been able to measure and track the phenomenon of BAC, so I had no idea what to expect. I looked at a table of BAC's, drink units, and body weight/height to see what a standard drink should do to me. I did a proper test, where I had 1 drink unit (1 12oz can of beer in this case) and waited 20min to do a test. It matched the table perfectly. And it's very consistent. If I repeat a test, it is always within 0.01 of the last.

You don't necessarily have to wait the full 20 minutes, but there are caveats. If you are still absorbing alcohol in your GI tract, yet have absorbed all of it in your mouth and throat (you ate a big meal before drinking), the reading will be low because you haven't absorbed everything into your system yet (it will continue to rise even if you don't have another drink). If you're still absorbing alcohol in your mouth (ie. after a sip of hard liquor), it will read high because the alcohol takes longer to absorb through your mouth and throat. You can rinse your mouth and do a test to get a ROUGH idea anytime, but if you want to be sure about your reading, wait 20 minutes. If 20 minutes isn't possible and it's important, your environment isn't healthy.

CALIBRATION:

The official website says that it should be sent for calibration after 6mo - 1yr. Closer reading of the manual confirms what many professionals in the BAC field will say: Every Month. The manual states that under 'average' use, it will need to be calibrated after 6mo - 1yr. But under daily use, it may need calibration as often as once a month.

I will periodically see what it reads my BAC 20 min after 1 standard drink, and send it off when it looks inconsistent or off.

CONCLUSION:

BAC was a much simpler concept in my head until I started reading and got this doodad. You have to learn a little science to understand what is going on. But it will help you understand that "feeling OK" is often not good enough.

Really, this tool is most useful if you understand how alcohol interacts with your body. Breathalyzers are not a surefire or definitive way to measure 'drunkenness' because they are an indirect measurement that can be affected by many factors. However, if you would like a tool to give you a rough idea of what you can handle, and have the knowledge to understand what factors are at play, it's a damned educational gadget that I would recommend to anyone interested in some learnin'.

At $30, it's a great deal. If you need more accuracy, or whatever, spend the money for a fuel-cell breathalyzer and get it calibrated every month. The BACtrack keychain is a good "back of the envelope" tool that can be very educational.
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236 of 258 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2012
This thing is quite a battery hog (AAA size). Had an alocohol sensor unit that cost more and seemed to be more accurate than this one for a decade before it quit working. This one registered a 0.01 after a beer a few nights back- seems to work so far. Don't drink that much nowadays but I want to know just where I stand... One can get into serious trouble if he hurts/kills someone while driving impaired.

Will update this after I compare it to the BACtrack S80 fuel cell model that I recently ordered arrives.

Update: Drank two beers 24 oz. total. Here are the results as my body eliminated the alcohol. Three digit numbers on the left are the pricy fuel cell model results.

6:56pm .029 vs. .06 BAC
7:12pm .022 vs. .04
7:21pm .020 vs. .03
7:38pm .016 vs. .03
8:36pm .000 vs. .00

The two digit numbers on the right are this inexpensive keychain model. The three digit numbers on the left are the BACtrack S80 $136. model. My stomach was completely empty when I did the above comparison. My old alcohol sensor unit seemed to be more accurate than this one. A fuel cell model is the way to go if you really need accuracy and not a vague idea... This is little more than a keychain trinket/party toy as far as I am concerned.

Blew into a fuel cell looking model years back when a cop thought I was drunk. He was puzzled for I was well below 0.08 but had alocohol on my breath... Am glad I have an accurate fuel cell breathlizer now. Cheap insurance considering the potential ramifications of being over 0.08% BAC. Figure on the high probability of a blood test for any and all drugs if you look/smell/act impaired. The courts have upheld the use of blood tests at the discretion of the cops.

Went partying yesterday afternoon. Got two back to back readings with my S80 model of 0.048% when I got into my vehicle. It's very good to accurately know just what your BAC is before driving.

Update: The S80 unit failed on me (needed recalibration). This unit was better than nothing yet I knew it was not accurate (that sucked). Got the S80 unit recalibrated for $20. plus shipping. Bought a second S80 unit to have a back up fuel cell model and to check them against one another... The fuel cell models must be recalibrated periodically depending on how much they are used.
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90 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2013
I bought this at the same time as another unit which was nearly twice the price in order to have multiple data sources in order to make an informed decision about my (lack of) sobriety.

When used correctly, it registers consistently exactly 0.01 below my other unit. I don't know which is "correct", but with mathematical computations based on my body weight vs. number of fluid ounces of alchohol, both register either exactly or very close to what they are supposed to. When I say "correctly", I mean not within 15 minutes of having a drink, or no repeated blows too close together (as the directions clearly state and clearly what multiple reviewers chose to ignore.)

I had one isolated incident where it read 0.00 a couple of consecutive times, but setting it down for 10 minutes and trying again seemed to correct it's minor brain lapse.

The real negative here is that the battery is seemingly only good for a few days (with our use, maybe 10-12 blows.) I would love for other users (or the manufacturer) to chime in and let me know if this is a defective unit, or truly a design deficiency, because this would be a 5-star product without this issue. Regrettably with it, it's only 3.

UPDATE:

After publishing this review, I mailed bactrack customer service. They responded within about 4 business hours of my request with this very nice reply - upping my rating to 4 stars, and will change to 5 if the new one gets the proper battery life:

XXX,

Thank you for contacting us with your Customer Support issue. I'm sorry to hear that you are having a little trouble with your breathalyzer.

According to manufacturer specifications and general customer experience, the KC10 typically has a battery life of about 50-75 uses. There could be a few reasons why your specific unit's battery life is less than average:

-Old batteries (Though I'm assuming that you used the new battery that came packaged with the KC10)

-All KC10's are designed to shut off automatically after a short period of time. Your unit may not be turning off on its own, causing the battery to drain over time.

In any case, since your unit does seem to be under-performing, we would be more than happy to send you a brand new unit. Please provide me with your original order confirmation from Amazon, as well as your shipping address, and I will arrange to have a new KC10 sent to you. Thanks for your patience.

XXX YYY
BACtrack.com
Customer Support

UPDATE #2:

They sent the updated unit, and the battery life is MUCH better. Rating changed to 5 stars.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2013
This product is bogus. A toy. When you blow into it, you get different readings each time and number goes up and down. It said I blew a .00 and then I blew into my car breathalyzer and got a violation... that's a $75 fee and one more is an arrest. Doesn't give a steady response. I want my money back.
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43 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2013
What the advertisement fails to tell you is you must spend nearly 20 dollars every six months to recalibrate the device by a "trained professional." That type of maintenance is something that should be put in the description in order to evaluate whether one wants to purchase an item. Don't waste your money. Read about it at [...]
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2012
This breathalyzer may not have the high accuracy of the higher end devices, but for the average user, it could be a life saver (or a driver's license saver). It's good enough.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2013
I have access to calibration tanks used for breath alcohol instruments. The tanks have a very accurate quantity of ethanol. This thing isn't accurate worth a damn, I used a .08 tank and it registered 0.16%. There is a silver lining, at least this device (or at least the one I bought) reads higher than the actual value. Drink responsibly everyone!
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Sorry to hear you have been having trouble with your breathalyzer. Per our one-year warranty on all products, we'd like to replace it free of charge. Please write to us at support at bactrack dot com or call Customer Service at 415-693-9756 and we'll send you a replacement right away. Thank you so much for your patience.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2013
I got this purple one because it is my favorite color. But mostly I was really impressed because after my BF got a DUI, I bought him the cheaper black one. It seemed to read right on with other devices. So I decided I needed one. In my purple one I just blew a .05. Wow I feel more than that. So I tried by BF's. His showed me at a .13. Much closer to how I feel right now. No way should I be driving. This is the third test I have performed with similar results. I have a photo showing a large difference in the readings. So I am very disappointed that if I were relying on this device in any way, I would be in big trouble. I don't know if it is just the purple one or what. I changed the battery after the first test, same thing. I'm going to go buy myself a black one....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2013
Your really getting what you pay for here.
Edit: i have since upgraded to a more accurate model. let me just say that this breathalyzer is completely unreliable. its nice as something fun to pull out at a party but is utter rubbish if you are using it for its original purpose.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2014
It does well for the price I suppose. It tells you if you're blowing zeros, which is really all I need it for. But for your exact number, it's not particularly reliable and varies a lot.
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