Ortovox Diract Voice Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Voice commands, low profile, built-in rechargeable batteries, intuitive design, comfortable harness, cool quick deploy design in the harness
Cons: Directional arrows disappear at 3m instead of 2m, requiring more practice during the fine search/bracketing stage, some voice prompts aren't as intuitive, bulkier harness
Compare to Similar Products
Ortovox Diract Voice
|Price||$336.00 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$399.89 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$384.97 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$360 List||$239.74 at Amazon|
Compare at 3 sellers
|Pros||Voice commands, low profile, built-in rechargeable batteries, intuitive design, comfortable harness, cool quick deploy design in the harness||Easy to use, many features, Bluetooth and smartphone app, good range, fast processor, best battery life in our review, excellent multiple burial and flagging features||Super fast processor, differentiates between beacons fantastically during multiple burials, best range in our review, best model for multiple and pro-level examinations||Great performance and features for the price, cool analog feature, very good at multiple burials, intuitive design, ultra long range, fast processor, super featured||Lightning fast processor, top-tier bracketing performance in the fine search, effectively differentiates between close proximity burials, low profile designs, easy to use interface|
|Cons||Directional arrows disappear at 3m instead of 2m, requiring more practice during the fine search/bracketing stage, some voice prompts aren't as intuitive, bulkier harness||Battery life is only displayed in thirds and not a percentage, some force required to toggle switches, somewhat bulky to carry in a pocket||Expensive, more complicated than other models, somewhat complicated for novice users||Bulky, bracketing takes more patience, tones are ear-piercing, old school plastic housing looks "cheap"||Mediocre range, flagging/marking feature works, no option to update software|
|Bottom Line||This beacon's voice commands are hardly a game-changer, but they're a nice complement to a solid product||This easy-to-use beacon is one of the best models for advanced users and beginners alike||One of the most capable and highest performing beacons on the market||This ultra-capable beacon packs in a ton of features and great performance at an awesome price||An capable, easy-to-use beacon with a lightning-fast processor|
|Rating Categories||Ortovox Diract Voice||Black Diamond Guide BT||Mammut Barryvox S||Arva Neo Pro||Backcountry Access...|
|Single Victim Search (20%)|
|Fine Search (20%)|
|Multiple Burials (15%)|
|Specs||Ortovox Diract Voice||Black Diamond Guide BT||Mammut Barryvox S||Arva Neo Pro||Backcountry Access...|
|Weight||230 g / 8 oz||210 g / 7.4 oz||210 g / 7.4 oz||246 g / 8.6 oz||165 g / 5.8 oz|
|Number of Antennae||3||3||3||3||3|
|Manufacturer's Range||50 meters||60 meters||70 - 95 meters||70 meters||55 meters|
|Battery Life (in "Send")||200 hours||400 hours||300 hours||250 hours||250 hours|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ortovox Diract Voice has created quite a splash with its release, as no other beacon has attempted to make any sounds other than beeping at various tones and cadence before. Trying to save someone buried in an avalanche is stressful. Speed is of the essence, with statistics showing that a buried person's chances drop off significantly after 15 minutes. The goal of the Diract's voice commands is to walk you through a rescue, helping you stay on track in an otherwise extremely stressful situation.
This model offered a middle-of-the-road processor speed. It wasn't slow, but it wasn't mega fast either. In our side-by-side tests, we felt it was a little slower and jumpier with more "hiccups" (where the number stalls as the processor recalculates). We think that a number of the voice commands could help rescuers by stating common techniques to help keep the rescuer on track and from forgetting what they need to do in the stress of the moment.
We liked that it reminded the searcher to use search strip widths if they didn't have a signal, and gave general directions to assist in staying on the flux line. We appreciated the drop to the ground prompt. Lead tester Ian Nicholson, a veteran of over 100 avalanche courses, can attest that dropping down is one of the most commonly forgotten techniques that negatively affects speed.
Ease of Finding a Single Victim
Ease of finding a single victim is a beacon's most essential job, and we feel it's one of the things that the Diract Voice does best. The combination of its voice commands and a nicely designed user interface makes it one of the more user-friendly models on the market.
From the moment it fires up, telling its user that it's in SEND, to reminding the user to use the pattern (by recommended 50m search strip widths, if appropriate) in order to locate the signal, this beacon helps keep you focused on the task at hand. During the course search, it was easy to stay on the flux line using this model's 100% digital, completely free-floating arrow and some voice prompts telling us which way to go (stating Go Right or Go Left. It was among the easiest and most intuitive beacons to use.
Ease of Use in Fine Search
The Diract Voice instructs the user to drop to the surface at 6-meters, which we feel is an excellent feature and a simple, easy-to-understand prompt — and an often forgotten step in the rescue. While there is some conflict among avalanche educators as to the exact distance rescuers should drop down, ranging between 10m (most common) down to 5m (least common). 6m is a perfectly fine distance as a reminder to the rescuer to "drop down to the snow's surface" if they haven't already. We liked this feature, as it is one of the most commonly forgotten techniques to increase the accuracy of your search. For those curious, the rest of the time this beacon is utilizing a beep that increases in pitch and cadence as you get closer similar to most other beacons on the market.
The Diract Voice's directional arrows disappear at 3m instead of the standard 2m, which generally leads to less accuracy during initial bracketing and potentially more time spent bracketing. We found this model slightly easier to bracket with than some other models whose arrows disappear at 3m.
In general, we quite liked a lot of the voice commands, but some of them are less likely to help less trained or more stressed out users. For example, during the bracketing stage in the fine search, it simply says "search the smallest value". Even tester Ian Nicholson, AIARE pro trainer and veteran of over 100 AIARE level 1 and Level 2 courses, had to take a second when blindly guessing what the phrases were out of context.
The Diract Voice claims to have a 50m maximum range and thus a 50m search strip width. This range puts it in the middle to slightly on the shorter side of beacons overall. We found the 50m maximum range claim to be true, and thus wouldn't actually recommend using a 50m search strip width with the beacon. We would operate with a 40m search strip width. We consistently found this beacon to pick up signals in the 45-53m range which was slightly further away than a few other beacons that also claim 50m ranges.
Ease of Use in Multiple Burials
The Diract uses up to four small icons at the bottom of its screen to show up to four signals that the beacon is picking up. If there are more than four signals, this beacon will not show an additional + symbol or anything of that nature, but we feel this is not a point worth stressing over as four signals is plenty to have to deal with.
When you hold the flag button down, it shows a big flag icon and gives a clear audible "ping". Then, when it returns to the normal searching screen, you will see a flag symbol in place of where the person symbol used to be, indicating that the signal has been marked/flagged. As it switches over, if another signal is in range, the beacon will direct you with an arrow and distance like a normal beacon, but the voice will tell you which direction to turn to get to the next signal.
Overall, we felt this beacon dealt with two signals very well. With three buried beacons, it got moderately bogged down, occasionally struggling to switch or flag beacons if the three buried transceivers were in relatively close proximity. If there were four signals, we had to really slow down and we noticed it struggling to keep up compared to the top-performing models in this category. We don't think this is a big deal for most people, as only 15% of real-world burials involve multiple buried beacons and 5% overall involve more than 2. However for pros whose exams involve 3 beacons (professional level avalanche courses) or 4 (AMGA Ski guides exam) this beacon works, but it isn't our first choice.
The voice commands are one of the most unique features of Diract Voice. While we hardly think they are a game-changer, we do think there are a number of users who will perform better in the real world and the stressful situation of rescue with the voice commands prompting the user on what to do next (on top of the displays on the screen). Things like its voice stating Run in 50m search strip widths and look out or Run straight.
Even more seasoned users still found it nice to hear things like SEND, Activated when we booted it up, though some of its commands made sense if you were familiar with beacons, but don't necessarily help otherwise, such as Search the smallest value while bracketing in the fine search.
Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery
This beacon is powered by a built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It charges with a Type C USB and provides a very similar level of battery life as most other beacons in this review. Orotovx claims that once charged to 100%, it will be able to SEND for 200 hrs before searching for an hour.
We love the concept of a rechargeable battery mainly so we don't have to throw away half-used batteries nor remember to take the batteries out at the end of every season. However, we have some questions for the long term. The first is, for those of you who are familiar with batteries, Lithium-ion batteries don't love being "short-charged", aka being charged back up to full after dropping down to say, only 95%. Ortovox in fact recommends that you wait to charge this beacon until it is below 80% to avoid wearing out the battery faster, which is done by repeatedly charging the battery without running it down. Ortovox guarantees this beacon's battery for 450 cycles, which doesn't sound like that many compared to your cell phone, but should be enough to get most users to 5-7 years, which is when Orotox and the majority of manufacturers recommend replacing your beacon.Can update software via Bluetooth
Like many of the newer beacons that have been released in the last 2-3 years, this one is Bluetooth enabled and can be paired with your phone or another similar device to update software and configure settings.
Group check function
While the beacon is booting up, the user has the option to select the Group Check function. In this mode it shortens the range to around 1m with no signal lock, letting it freely jump from one transmitting beacon to the next. In this mode, it displays numbers when you are closer than 1m and gives a nice visual confirmation with the person on the screen.
Comfort to Carry
Ortovox made sure this beacon was on the slimmer side, and while it would have been among the thinnest beacons just 5 years ago, it is pretty average by today's standards. While its slim profile is welcomed, its height and width along the face of the beacon are slightly larger than most beacons in our review. With that said, it still feels relatively comfortable to carry due to its slim nature. We measured its dimensions to be 79mm wide x 120mm tall x 23mm thick.
Most of our testers really liked this model's well-thought-out and comfortable harness, but it is slightly more robust than most, so some smaller-framed users might find it on the bulky side. We appreciated its long elastic leash that allowed us to bracket comfortably without having to unclip from the chest harness. Similarly, most testers found this model's slim profile comfortable to carry in their pocket.
While it doesn't have as much to do with comfort, all of our testers loved this model's easy-to-grab design; when you open the Velcro flap and pull, it also pulls the beacon out of the harness.
Should You Buy the Ortovox Diract Voice?
While we didn't fall head over heels for it, we still think the voice command aspect of this beacon is useful and that it could be helpful in a real-life rescue. Voice commands aside, the Diract Voice is a solid all-around beacon thanks to its intuitive interface, well-designed features, and solid overall performance.
What Other Avalanche Beacon Should You Consider?
If you're a beginner just starting out with avalanche safety in the backcountry, you don't really need a fully-featured beacon with all the bells and whistles. Something with an intuitive interface and a lower price point, like the Backcountry Access Tracker S or Tracker3 will serve you well. If you're a seasoned pro and looking for the best, we recommend the Mammut Barryvox S or Pieps Pro BT for their full feature sets geared towards professional use.
— Ian Nicholson
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More