Summary: This battery-operated digital video camera can be used to closely inspect furnaces and plumbing. This tool was used by a tool tester for a furnace inspection in areas that are difficult to see with just a flashlight. The camera's light can be adjusted, which made it great for inside a furnace. To get more great tool reviews, visit www.toolselect.com.
BRAD: You can actually load it onto our computer, and then email a photo for warranty purposes. Inside of a furnace, if the light hits it just right, it kind of gives off that shiny reflective light.
BARNABY: Hey, what's up? Barnaby here. So you want to know more about the Milwaukee inspection tool? Well, I can tell you that it's got a 3 ½-inch high resolution color LCD screen. It operates off a 12v lithium ion battery system, and it's got a 2G SD memory card capable of capturing up to 90 minutes of audio and video, or 7,600 still pictures.
But what we like to do with tools like this is put them in the hands of real people like Brad to figure out performance, design, quality, and value. So, Brad, what do you do in life?
BRAD: I work for Godwin Plumbing, a licensed heating and cooling contractor, and licensed plumber as well. We work on furnaces, plumbing, residential, commercial, a little bit of everything.
BARNABY: Okay. Let's talk about the performance of this tool at the job site. What do you use it for?
BRAD: We use this particular tool for a furnace inspection, checking the inside of a furnace, heat exchanger, components on the furnace that we can't really quite reach or see just with our general arm and flashlight. So that's where this thing came in handy to use it for.
BARNABY: So you're taking a peek into dark, dark places. Did it work well under those conditions?
BRAD: This tool worked great. One nice feature with this is the large screen on the front. Crystal clear picture that the camera gives us. The camera feature has different brightnesses of light that we can adjust the light up and down, and make it brighter, dimmer. Inside of a furnace it's stainless steel, and if the light hits it just right, it kind of gives off that shiny reflective light, so then we can dim the light, brighten the light, and get the best picture possible.
ame thing, too, on the camera here. It has a zoom feature. If we get into a funny little area where we can't quite reach with the camera, we can zoom in and zoom out, and take a picture with it. We, also, can take a video of it, record it, and then show the homeowner if there's a crack in the heat exchanger, or any defective pieces in there, that we can do that with.
Another thing, too, is if we have to send the heat exchanger back for a warranty, with that SD memory card we can actually load it onto our computer, and then email a photo for warranty purposes, and get a new heat exchanger as well for the customer.
BARNABY: Can you flip the image around in case you get upside down looking at things?
BRAD: Yes. The buttons on the very front here are very, very easy to use. If you get inside of a furnace and your image is flip flopped, or upside down like you said, you can scroll through the buttons there. The icons are labeled on the screen very well, and you can make it right side up per se.
BARNABY: Okay. Let's talk about the design of this. It's a video camera with a wand with a light on the end of it obviously. But is it designed with you in mind?
BRAD: Very much so. Inside of furnaces are usually sharp and a lot of corners in there, and what's nice with this one here is the light with a snake light has his rubber coating on it that's heavy duty, thick rubber coating, and so we can slide it into the furnace, slide it out. It doesn't really get tore up, kind of protects it a lot. As far as fitting in your hand, you can easily hold it in your hand with one hand and control all your functions with just your thumb, and so one hand can be hanging onto the camera, moving it around, and the other hand can be doing all the functions and controls of it.
BARNABY: Yes, and it's got a very small battery, being the 12v lithium ion. Is that a good thing, or would you rather have a larger battery?
BRAD: No. This battery here with the size of it, and the size of the battery, it fits in your hand perfect, and it only took me 30 minutes to charge it.
BARNABY: Let's talk about the general quality of the tool. What do you think about it?
BRAD: The quality is great. I would use it every day. I would have no problem using this, giving it to other guys. It's durable. It's got the extra rubber grip on the side here. If you do drop it, it's not going to fall apart, and break. It's well built.
Same thing with the camera here. Even though the snake is flexible enough, wherever you do bend it it does stay in that position, so it's not flimsy by any means.
So, yes, as far as the tool working and the quality of it, it's very well put together.
BARNABY: Well, it comes at a price. Technology always does, and then you have to balance that as far as return on investments. Let's talk about the value of a tool like this to a technician such as yourself.
BRAD: Sure. The value of a tool like this, in our industry it's priceless. I mean we need this tool to do our job. We use it every day. But in the price range between $300 and $350 or so, contractor-wise, like I said, it's just going to make your job that much easier. The time that you spent on the job, and could make or break a sale for your furnace, or whatever you're going to do for that customer, especially with being able to show them the picture of the heat exchanger, and actually proving it to them that, yes, it is broken, damaged, versus them having to take your word for it.
BARNABY: So we've established the value of an inspection tool. But this one specifically, if somebody came to you and said, "Should I buy it? Should I not," what would you tell them?
BRAD: I would tell them buy it. This is a great tool. It works well for our industry, and, like I said, the features that are on it, it's everything that we need to use for our job to do it right.
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