Andrea tested the device for the Italian sports magazine Mountainreview.it. ISPO.com readers will now also benefit from the honest and unsparing practical tests, because we are publishing the Mountainreview tests, which were previously only available in Italian, in German, English, French and Spanish.
Mountainreview.it - these are real practical tests by ambitious (hobby) athletes who spend every free minute in the mountains. The tests are hands-on and relentlessly honest, by mountain lovers for mountain lovers. The "Consumer Experts" run, hike, ski or climb and test current equipment for its suitability for the outdoor lifestyle.
All tests are completely independent and reflect the personal opinion of the testers. We take tests of products that have performed well or very well and are also particularly interesting for our readers from the point of view of the ISPO.com editorial team.
Ortovox Diract Voice is an avalanche transceiver for ski tourers who want to protect themselves in the mountains for emergencies. What stands out is that the software is very intuitive. Voice support gives clear and simple instructions and helps people to focus exactly on what they need to do when using it in an emergency.
The Ortovox Diract Voice impresses with its combination of its easy search, the excellent build quality, with its beautiful design and of course with the voice guidance. Another highlight: the possibility of charging with USB and the proven functionality at low temperatures. But: the ability to fixate on the first signal could be even better, so that the search is even faster.
|Weight||214 g, with chest strap 306 g|
A safety device must be one thing above all: easy to use and simple in its instructions. Here comes another but: the Ortovox Diract Voice only offers a nine-page quick reference guide that explains the basic use of the product. For comparison: the Mammut Barryvox comes with a 50-page manual, the Black Diamond Recon X Beacon at least offers a 23-page manual. Is such a thick manual really necessary? At least it provides security.
A plus from Ortovox: a video tutorial is available on the website. This compensates for the meager instructions.
Discover Ortovox and other exhibitors at OutDoor by ISPO 2023.
Ortovox Diract Voice is charged via a USB-C port, which is covered with a rubber cap. This protects the device from water.
The battery is a 1100 mAh lithium-ion battery. This is not a particularly powerful battery, but according to Ortovox, it should last for 200 hours of transmission and one hour of search, and it should also provide reliable power at -20 °C. When the device is switched off, a warning appears on the display as soon as the battery needs servicing.
The avalanche transceiver, like all devices on the market, operates on the frequency 457 kHz. The search system is based on three antennas covering the x and y axes (ground plane) and the z axis (at depth, for fine search).
In the event of a burial, thanks to the Smart Antenna feature, the system checks the position of the device via its compass and activates either the x or the y antenna, depending on which provides the best coverage at ground level. This offers the greatest chance of being detected by searchers at the avalanche level itself.
The display is monochrome and is illuminated by four LEDs, two on each side. The Diract Voice has only one power button, one search button and one flag button. It does not need any other buttons, and all buttons offer a very good feel when pressed.
Step 1: Charging
For charging, the USB-C port on the left side of the device is used. The cable that came with the device had a defect and did not stay on the device, but Ortovox support later sent me a suitable cable. When the device is charging, the display turns off.
Attention: If you switch on the Diract Voice after it has been switched off after charging, it goes directly into transmitting mode without giving the possibility to do the group check. In this case, the product must be switched off and on again.
Step 2: Ortovox configuration and app
Ortovox Diract Voice is configured via the app, which is available eitherfor iOS and Android. With this app, the software can be updated and the quick start guide can be viewed. By registering the device, a five-year warranty instead of the usual two years is granted.
Step 3: Switching on Ortovox Diract Voice
There are two precautions to take when switching on the device:
- You must take the device out of the shoulder strap: You cannot switch it on if you leave it in your pocket.
- You must take off your gloves to reach the power button.
When the unit is switched on for the first time, you need to calibrate the compass: This is not difficult, just follow the instructions.
Immediately after switching on, the battery charge level is displayed as a percentage. After that, the battery level is indicated only by the battery symbol.
Step 4: Carrying Diract Voice
Diract's shoulder strap is comfortable, easy to adjust and has a Recco reflector.
Step 5: Performing a group test
After switching on, the system offers the possibility to perform a group test. This also signals the possible malfunction of a monitored device (e.g. low signal strength).
After completion of the group check, the system switches to transmission mode, the voice announcement "Transmission active" sounds and the display switches off after 20 seconds. In transmission mode, the unit can be switched to standby.
In the event of a buriedperson search, persons not participating in the search should switch off their avalanche beacon to prevent their signal from interfering with that of the missing person. In this situation, the Diract Voice can be switched to standby. This will switch off the antenna in transmission mode, but the avalanche transceiver will remain on alert. If it detects no movement for two minutes, it will switch the antenna back to transmission mode.
To switch to standby mode, press the flag button for two seconds and then open and close the Search tab: The display explains the single steps.
To switch to search mode, simply lift the orange tab. When pulled out in search mode, the tab shows at a glance that you are in this function.
In search mode alike in standby mode, Ortovox Diract Voice switches to transmissionif it does not detect any movement after two minutes. In search mode, Diract Voice calculates the maximum width of the corridor to zigzag based on the natural obstacles in the search field. The maximum width available is 50 m. This is where Diract Voice's voice guidance begins: it's a bit like being guided by a navigator.
The voice guidance starts the search for the first signal like this: "Proceed in 20-metre search corridors and observe".
I noticed that the moment you have detected the first signal, you should slow down considerably. The processor is not very fast and runs the risk of losing the signal while it is calculating the direction to take.
As soon as the first signal is received, the voice navigation gives the direction: "straight ahead", "right", "left". Thanks to the voice guidance, you can concentrate well on the search.
At a distance of six metres from the located spot, the Diract voice commands: "Approach the snow surface". This is an important instruction that we often forget to apply.
As you approach the position, the arrow turns into a cross and the search begins. At this moment, the Diract Voice commands "Search for the lowest value".
As can be seen in the video, the guidance and display are very clear and the navigation to the buried victims is obvious.
I did a test search for the first signal that was picked up at about 40 metres. That is not an incredible performance. I would suggest to choosesearch corridors narrower than 50 metres, even if the unit shows 50 metres. That way you work in safer condition.
I made several search attempts. After finding and "marking" the first buried victim, the unit moves very quickly and without hesitation to search for the second buried victim.
To test the battery's ability at low temperatures, I conducted a lab test: I charged the battery to 100% and then put the Diract Voice in the freezer for an hour. After taking it out of the freezer, I tried turning it on and seeing if it was able to go on the air and search. It worked fine!