May 19, 2024


Cardo PackTalk Edge Gear Review

This is it, the Edge. This is the “ultimate” motorcycle communications device for riders. With Dynamic Mesh Communications (DMC), Cardo was able to carve their name into the minds of consumers, so much so that they’ve become a bit of a verb in some riding circles. The phrase “let’s Cardo,” or “Cardo tayo” has now become commonplace among many riders. 

Cardo has been dominating the high-end motorcycle comms device market for quite some time now. The brand is so strong that it’s become some sort of a status symbol to have on the side of your helmet. The PackTalk Bold has endured for close to a decade now, and it’s about the right time that Cardo updated its most premium offering in its lineup. The Edge brings a new design, a new cradle, updated software, updated internal hardware, and an updated price tag to go along with it. However, will the Edge get the… well… edge over the Bold? 

Design

For quite some time now, I’ve been a loyal Cardo customer, but I’ve flirted with more basic systems before jumping on the Cardo train. As I’ve matured as a rider and as I’ve gained more friends, I found myself needing a capable communicator that can make my rides safe and fun at the same time. Thus, I got myself a PackTalk Bold, though, the build quality of that unit wasn’t exactly amazing. 

I wasn’t too fond of the PackTalk Bold’s design because it’s all plastic and there is a glossy panel that gets scratched up at the slightest contact. Now, however, all of that has changed. The PackTalk Edge may still be made from plastic, but instead of the glossy black, we get matte finishes and rubberized surfaces to touch and the additional density of the device certainly helped it feel more like its price tag. 

The Edge is very solid-feeling in the hand. It’s one of the most premium devices that I’ve held in recent memory. It certainly helps that Cardo keeps a rather seamless design throughout the unit’s body, and I’d say that it’s a definite upgrade in the style department. On top of that, it’s also antenna-less and the overall dimensions of the unit are much smaller than before and not as bulbous. I also would like to commend Cardo Systems for moving away from silver trim. The PackTalk Black was one unit that I lusted after back then, but there was no real reason to upgrade to it since I already had the Bold. It’s a bit of a love-hate relationship between me and the cradling system of the Edge since it’s so cool and it eliminates the weak point that the Bold platform’s system had, but it doesn’t sit as flush as the Bold did. Although, the magnetic Air Mount system is a game-changer for Cardo fans, and it’s definitely one of the coolest and most secure ways to secure the unit on the side of your helmet. 

However, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies with this unit. The complete redesign is great, but Cardo shrunk the volume wheel down to make this unit look sleeker, which doesn’t bode too well for ergonomics. The buttons are also a little harder to press compared to the Bold, and your USB-C cable will stick out of the side of your helmet if you are the type of rider that uses the in-use charging function of the unit. On top of that, or underneath the unit rather, the cradle seems like a bit of a miss given how sleek the unit looks on its own. There is an awkward gap between the cradle and the unit itself as previously mentioned, so it’s not like the Bold where it looked like it was part of the helmet. While I was photographing this unit, I felt that there were certain angles that made it look a little weird, but for the most part, it’s a great-looking unit when faced from the side. Ultimately, design is only one part of the equation, so let’s get into the rest of the device. 

Practicality and features

Cardo PackTalk Edge Cradle

In a nutshell, the PackTalk Edge does everything that the Bold does, but better. The Bluetooth 5.2 standard is fast, and the unit connects almost instantly to my phone and to other Cardo devices. Pairing is also much more seamless compared to the experience that I’ve had with the Bold. Audio quality is still top-notch thanks to the 40mm JBL speakers that are supplied in the box, and the microphone remains clear with the software audio cleanup allowing voices to be heard, just as if you weren’t on a motorcycle. 

I’d say that it’s just a more refined PackTalk Bold at this point. The Edge takes what the Bold was able to do and cranks up the speed and the connection quality. There were times when the Bold would have intermittence while on DMC and while playing music on my phone, but this is less of an issue with the Edge. However, the difference here is very minute, and I still feel that less picky riders will be able to still enjoy the capabilities of the Bold. The Edge is just simply faster and better. 

Cardo PackTalk Edge

Other features of the Edge are too long to list, but the chief of them is the Natural Voice function of the system. Cardo was able to further refine this feature and make it more sensitive, even with a bit of an accent, even if the helmet tends to hinder your mouth’s ability to move around and communicate clearly. “Hey Cardo” is the initiating phrase which is then followed by a command, and I found myself using this feature a lot. The feature gave me another option in lieu of finding the right button to press or finding the shrunken volume wheel on the unit. In the Bold, it was already great, but now better, and that is the theme of the Edge here. It’s refined, fast, and strong in terms of connectivity and features. You probably wouldn’t be left wanting, or you probably wouldn’t find this unit’s feature set lacking because I certainly didn’t. 

Intercom

Cardo PackTalk Edge

DMC was a game-changer then, and it still is the gold standard now. DMC 1.0 was a breakthrough technology, and Cardo did well to update it over the years, now doing so with DMC 2.0 which is still up to 15 riders. With the maximum number of riders, the system is able to span a total distance of up to eight kilometers, so doing the math that’s about 500 meters per rider, which is about a third of the advertised rider-to-rider distance of 1.6 kilometers (one mile). It’s theoretically possible to achieve the advertised distance if there is no interference whatsoever, but that’s rarely the case when it comes to rides. Realistically, you’re probably going to get about 400 to 500 meters before starting to hear distortions in the DMC network. 

Other than that, the unit still connects to Bluetooth intercoms, and it can even allow the Bluetooth-only device to join the DMC network through the PackTalk device. We weren’t able to test this, however, and we assume that the connection is better if it is done with a Cardo Freecom, or Spirit model, but without having either of the two devices to experience that feature, we can’t speak more in-depth about it. Other than that, however, the device is also advertised to be able to share music with your pillion who has a Bluetooth device. 

Cardo PackTalk Edge

On top of that, the unit also remembers the last connected group. The range and stability of all the features on the Edge are much stronger than before, and the model also allows riders to listen to music and remain connected to the intercom network. The thing is, these are all old features, and the Bold does the same thing. The theme here is refinement and speed. The refinement of the connection has been improved over the Bold, and the speed of connecting is much faster. Whatever your experience was with the Bold in the intercom front, you will have more or less the same experience with the Edge, just without the need to flip up an antenna. 

Other features

Cardo PackTalk Edge Over the air updates

While it is a given that the model is a stellar music-listening device thanks to the 40mm JBL speakers that come included in the box, it’s also great that the Cardo App exists, which allows you to tune what audio profile you want from your music. I’ve set my device to be bass heavy, to give me a bit of an energy boost while on longer rides. I don’t like subjecting my ears to high-frequency noises, so a thumpy low-end does it for me, and the JBL speakers deliver that without missing a beat. 

Other than that, I do appreciate Cardo finally going with a USB Type-C cable. Because I am an Android user, most of my cables are already up to the new standard. Furthermore, the PackTalk Edge also comes with a fast-charging feature, which gives you up to two hours of uptime with just 20 minutes of charging time. 

Lastly, over-the-air updates through the Cardo app are also a godsend for people like me who frequently forget to update their unit through a computer. With the PackTalk Edge, you won’t have to worry about getting your unit to a dealer to install the latest firmware or plugging it into a computer. All you have to do is check for updates on the Cardo Connect app, download it over WiFi or mobile data, and then transfer it to your device through the app and you’re good to go. 

Battery life

Cardo PackTalk Edge

While we don’t have exact figures to go with this, I usually found myself looking for a charger by the time I’ve gone through a second day of riding. Normally, however, I do charge my unit before a ride, but if I did, I wouldn’t have to worry too much because the battery life on the Edge is good enough to last two days’ worth of riding. If you factor in the mesh intercom function, you could see about a day and a half’s worth of use, which is still not too bad and about on par with a brand-new PackTalk Bold. Of course, all of this depends on how loud you play your music or how long you’re riding, or how often you chat with your buddies while out on a ride. 

If I were to estimate, however, two days’ worth of riding is about five hours on the road each day, so let’s pin it at about 10 hours before needing to charge, which is pretty good. Your mileage may vary however, and these are just estimates, but I’d say that this is a two-day device. 

Compared to the Bold, I would charge the unit every one or two days. In numbers, about 1.5 days before needing a charge, so there is a bit of an improvement in battery life if you ask me. What’s more important is that Cardo is getting closer to its advertised battery life, which can only be good for us in the long run. Of course, I cannot discount battery degradation, and my PackTalk Bold is about one and a half years old at the time of this review’s writing, so perhaps once upon a time it matched the Edge’s battery life hour per hour, but at least in our experience, it’s now better considering the age of the Bold unit that I have. 

Verdict and price

Cardo PackTalk Edge

So let’s be real here, everything that I mentioned here is essentially a rehash of the Bold’s features and capabilities, but with the Edge doing everything better. Perhaps we can say that Audio quality is still largely the same as the Bold, but you do get new sound effects to remind yourself that you have Cardo’s latest and greatest product on the side of your helmet. Other than that, however, the experience is faster and the connection is more stable, and that’s really about it with regard to using the device. 

I still don’t see the need to throw out my PackTalk Bold because it still does the same things that the Edge does, albeit slower and in a different form factor. I think the best part about the PackTalk Edge is the design, with a few concessions about the cradle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just nitpicking at this point, but I’m sure that the Edge will be the new “it” device in many rider groups. 

Do I think that you need to upgrade to this unit over the Bold? I don’t think so. If you have a PackTalk Bold and multiple audio kits, then you don’t have to rush to get this brand-new one. With that in mind, you now have two options, with the first being to save your money and to wait until your old unit breaks. However, if you don’t have any comms device at all and want the highest of the high-end, then go for the Edge. Now, the third option would be to go for a second-hand PackTalk Bold. While the unit isn’t the fastest anymore, nor is it the sleekest, it still does everything that the PackTalk Edge does.

With that in mind, however, there are a dwindling number of PackTalk Bold devices now in the market, which will make securing one a challenge for budget-minded consumers. I see that Cardo Systems is slowly phasing out the Bold, in fact, production for the platform has already stopped. If you are on a tight budget, however, the Bold will make for a nice alternative to the Edge if there are still stocks available. You can also opt for a second-hand unit if you don’t mind a few scratches and dings depending on the condition of the device in question. 

Cardo PackTalk Edge

Being a new device, however, there will be a few patches before it can become absolutely perfect, but in my experience, so far so great. Cardo is working day and night to refine its products all the time. Keeping your unit up to date will be much easier thanks to the relentless software updates being thrown at us on a regular basis, so I can only see the Edge becoming the newest and best standard there is in the industry. 

I have little to no concessions about it. Say what you will, but the PackTalk Edge will be the new gold standard moving forward. Say what you will about how pricey the Edge is or how hard it will be to pony up about P18,500 for the solo or P17,500 per unit for the duo. Say what you will about its initial bugs, but the app was able to take care of all the reported bugs and my experience has been flawless so far. Is it worth it? If you know what you want, and if you want the newest standard for motorcycle communicators, then the Cardo PackTalk Edge definitely gets our seal of approval. The whole MotoDeal team is on the PackTalk Edge right now, and it’s been a great device for us so far with no issues, and no qualms. 


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