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Hardcore Hardware: The Predator has nothing on the Zeus Pro 640 thermal imager

Gordon Mah Ung | July 1, 2015
Thermal imagers that let you visualize heat are awesome tools. Around PCWorld, I use them to visualize hot spots on laptops or hardware I'm testing.

Interestingly, military units have always eschewed rechargeable batteries in favor of lithium ion cells. The reason is you can't charge anything when you're sitting in a ditch in an undisclosed location. Simply swapping out the dead batteries for fresh ones is preferred. The Zeus Pro runs on four CR123 lithium batteries. With fresh cells, you should see a four-hour run time. In a pinch you can also run the unit on a single CR123 battery, which I had to do after forgetting to power down the Zeus Pro. There's also a rugged adapter ring that will let you run the unit on AA batteries, if it comes to that. For longer battery life, Armasight sells an extended battery for up to 14 hours of run time.

Standing roughly 100 feet away and with magnification turned off, the details of this thermal image from the Zeus Pro is stunning.  Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

Amazing clarity

With a person standing about 100 feet away and the magnification turned down to minimum, the Zeus Pro produces stunning thermal images. In the image above, for example, you can tell the person is a female with long hair and wearing pants as she stands in the pitch-black. In a military or security application, this is an important distinction. In the image below, you can easily see it's a male, and you can even see he has sunglasses hanging on his shirt. Again, this is the magnification turned down to the minimum on the Zeus Pro. 

The resolution of the Zeus Pro and its magnifcation factor lets you identify subjects at very long ranges.  Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

What about the Predator?

Because most consumers' exposure to thermal imaging is through what they saw in the classic movie Predator, I decided to test just how effective it is to cover yourself in cold mud. The theory--at least movie theory--is that covering your body with mud would mask your thermal signature and make you invisible to an alien hunter using thermal vision. So, I covered my face and part of my torso with mud and then had someone use the Zeus Pro to snag video of me. If the mud trick worked, as it did for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator, my head would at least be invisible.

With mud covering my head and upper torso, I still show up under thermal imaging. It's intentionally out of focus to protect you from seeing my nerd boobs.  Credit: Predator

Hollywood lied. Hard to believe, isn't it? The mud test didn't work at all, as you can see from the image below. The image is out of focus, as I was too close to the Zeus Pro, and that's probably for the better to save you from seeing my nerd boobs.

The Armasight Zeus Pro is a bad-ass thermal imager, built like a tank yet capable of produce amazing long-range images. If I had a farm to protect from rampaging wild hogs, it would be well worth the cost.


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