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Roundup: Drunken Masters

Handheld Breathalyzers Make Good Drinking Buddies
Photo by Jens Mortensen
$70  • 


Handheld Breathalyzers Make Good Drinking Buddies

You're drunk. How drunk? Hard to say, since you're drunk and all. A handheld breathalyzer can help. We got trashed and compared four over-the-counter testers with the California Highway Patrol's gear to find out which one is the best drinking buddy.

1. AlcoMate AccuCell AL9000
AlcoMate makes a range of portable breathalyzers, most of which cost less than the AL9000. Skip those. In our tests, not even the next-best AL7000 could match the wicked consistency of the 9000. Granted, it reads about 0.01 higher than the police units — but it's always 0.01 higher. Thank the fuel-cell sensor — the same tech used in police models — which turns your boozy breath into electrical current that can be precisely measured. We're guessing that AlcoMate calibrates the device a tad high to keep users on the sober side of legal — probably a good idea when your customers are the kind of people who buy personal breathalyzers.

WIRED Most reliable of the bunch. Audible click tells you when to stop blowing. Small and light. Quick startup. Optional USB kit ($50) lets you download readings to your PC to plot drunkenness over time.

TIRED Expensive.

If you're looking for a breathalyzer with "critical accuracy" across the full range and "wicked consistency" check out the AlcoMate AccuCell AL9000.