Review: Sightmark Signal N320RT Digital Night Vision Monocluar

Sightmark sent us this monocular for a 30 day testing and evaluation period, and I must say, it’s a slick unit.  Packed with features, ready to use out of the box and a smartphone app that really helps the unit shine.  Prices online for the N320RT vary from $399-478.

Stock photo from Sightmark

When I first unboxed this, I couldn’t wait for nightfall.  I dared not to turn this on in my bright living room because of the old notion that you could ruin your NV by exposing it to direct light.   After immersing myself in the instructions and online videos, I learned that this unit is capable of both day and night operation.

With 4.5x zoom as the lowest setting (up to 9x with digital zoom), use indoors was only useful in helping get acquainted with the unit.  Using outside, in the daylight is nothing more than looking through a slightly enhanced digital camera viewfinder.   It was still nice though to fidget with the buttons and app in daylight.

Button layout

Nightfall came and I headed outside for my first evening of playing around.  I live in a rural part of Olympia, WA.  Surrounded by trees with acreage around me, I felt it was a decent spot to play around with this new gadget.   I turned off all of my exterior lights and put the monocle (digital viewfinder) to my eye.  I was impressed with the amount of detail I was able to see at around 15-20 yards.  The IR emitter did a great job of reflecting on the foliage.  If it wasn’t for that 4.5x magnification, I feel like I could have navigated my property fairly confidently using only the monocle to guide me.

4.5 Default View

That first evening is also where I found my first downside of the N320RT, battery life.  Although the specs say battery life is up to 5 hours, that is without using the IR (Infrared).  Trying to use nightvision without infrared is, well, pointless as the IR provides just enough artificial light for the NV to work properly.  I found, that with the IR turned on, my battery life was down to about 2 hours.  It was even less when I also had my smartphone connected as a viewfinder.  Luckily, Sightmark allows you to connect an external battery pack (like the ones we use to charge our cell phones), via micro-usb.  So, you don’t need to pack a brick of batteries for your next hunting trip, just a battery pack.

It came well appointed

I had to put the unit away for a few days, as we were being deluged with a bit of rain.  Remember, I am in Washington.  The N320RT is IP55 rated, which means it’s possibly capable of handling some rain, but I wasn’t about to risk taking our first loaner from Sightmark to the extreme.  This is something you may want to consider if using this primarily for deep woods or areas known to get some heavy rain.  Maybe Sightmark will give me the go-ahead and I can do some real world water test, puddle drops etc.  With the rubberized exterior and sealed buttons, I am sure this can take some abuse and keep on working.

Once the rains subsided, I retained the assistance of my 11 year old son to help me with continuing the evaluation.   This time, I downloaded the smartphone App on my iPhone X so we could use the remote viewfinder and photo/video capture options.  (The Sightmark comes with 8GB of built in memory, so a smartphone isn’t required for photo/video capture).  I will say, the app really helps this unit shine.  You can completely control the N320RT using your phone, but the wifi distance is VERY limited (10′ or so) and when using the wifi mode, along with the IR, the battery drains extremely fast.  I also experienced some connection issues with the app to the unit.  The 320RT would randomly turn its wifi off, and then I’d have to turn the entire monocle off and on for it to get it set back up (luckily, it’s a fairly fast process).  I may be able to blame my own fat fingering of the buttons on the N320RT a couple times, but it happened a few times where the unit was not being touched at all.

Stream Vision Smartphone app

One annoying issue I found with the app was that it is NOT optimized well for the iPhone X. I have two X’s and tried it on both with the same results.  The app isn’t designed for the X’s screen well and crops off some commands (that I want to use).  I did report this to Sightmark right away, and I assume this will be addressed in the next app update.

Cropped App on side and bottom

Once we replaced the batteries, again, we went to find darker spaces.  At the end of my driveway, the intersecting road is unlit, and in a cloudy night, it’s eerily dark.   I wanted to really test the IR and sight distance that I could see.  Per their specs, with a quarter moon, the distance should be almost 400 yards.  That’s pretty impressive in my opinion.  Unfortunately, there was ZERO moon out that night, and the 320RT performed well under the quarter moon expectations.  I was lucky to see more than 150′, and at that distance I couldn’t make out if a shape was a mailbox, or my son.  Heading back down my driveway though, with just a hint of light illuminating my front yard, the 320RT worked as expected and I could see everything. It was pretty amazing on how just a little light makes a world of difference on this unit.

From about 80′ away

At right around $400, this little unit does pack a lot of options into it. If I ever became more of an avid outdoorsman, a small Night Vision setup like the 320RT would definitely be used, and used often.

Sightmark 320RT Summary

Pros:
Compact
Fast power up
Very user friendly
Smartphone Application
Amazing clarity in low light

Cons:
Battery life
No-Light performance
IP55 durability
WiFi connectivity issues

Shopping Links:
Sightmark.com
Amazon.com
Opticsplanet.com

 

 

 

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