AK Globaltech AlcoMate Prestige review: AlcoMate measures drunkenness with finicky results

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The Good The AlcoMate Prestige includes removable nozzles and a replaceable sensor. Its single-use accuracy appears good.

The Bad The device takes a long time to warm up, and its performance suffered after many consecutive uses. Its accuracy varies by as much as 0.1 percent blood alcohol level. It shows results for only 15 seconds and includes no memory function.

The Bottom Line The AlcoMate Prestige may prove useful in determining blood alcohol levels, but only for careful, limited-use situations.

5.3 Overall

With its ability to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC), the AlcoMate Prestige can determine if you are over the legal limit to drive, but this device proves so finicky it may confound the typical inebriated user.

The AlcoMate Prestige, from AK GlobalTech, comes in a sculptured silver casing with black accents that fits easily into a hand, like a pistol grip, and looks like a set-piece from "Doctor Who." The design is very simple, with a single power button, a small display on the side, and the business end, where you blow your alcohol-tainted breath.

AlcoMate Prestige
The AlcoMate Prestige is a little big to carry around but fits well into a car's glovebox or console. Josh Miller/CNET

You can blow directly into the business end, but the package includes a set of plastic nozzles, which not only direct your breath into the device, but also present a sanitary means for multiple people to use the AlcoMate Prestige. The nozzles require some force to fit into the device, as if they weren't designed specifically for the AlcoMate Prestige, but they will seat snugly.

A hatch in the bottom of the device opens up to reveal the battery compartment, with room for two AAs. A panel on the top can be pried open to replace the sensor module, the part of the AlcoMate Prestige that measures your BAC. As the sensor module lasts for 200 uses or one year, whichever comes first, making it replaceable will considerably extend the life of the device as a whole.

Measuring about 5 inches tall, 3 inches wide and 2 inches thick, the AlcoMate Prestige is a little too large to carry around with you, but it will fit easily into the glovebox or console of a car.

The AlcoMate Prestige is a bit monomaniacal in its purpose. It does one thing -- it measures BAC -- and that one thing only. It lacks any sort of memory, so each test is a one-shot, the results disappearing within a few seconds following each use.

Performance issues

With batteries loaded and no alcohol consumed since the night before, I pressed the power button and held it, as per instructions. After a beep I let go the button, and the AlcoMate Prestige began its warm-up procedure. The ovoid screen on its side showed the numbers 250, then rapidly counted down, slowing considerably at 85. The whole warm-up procedure took about 2 minutes from a cold start, but it was quicker on immediately subsequent uses, down to about 30 seconds.

Upon blowing into the nozzle a long tone sounded, then stopped for a double-beep, the signal that it was ready to calculate my BAC. After about 5 seconds, it displayed my BAC of 0.00, showing those numbers for 15 seconds before turning itself off. It was accurate so far.

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