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DoubleTake digital binoculars offer a whole new view

NexOptic presents a new vision for the future of an old-school gadget.


Just hit zoom for a view.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Fix your peepers on this, twitchers.

You might think you know what a pair of binoculars looks like -- how they work has pretty much stayed the same since the 17th century, after all. But avert your gaze to this 21st century take on magnifying eye equipment to see what's possible when you bring digital technology into the picture.

Built by optics specialist NexOptic and announced on Sunday at CES in Las Vegas, the DoubleTake binoculars allow you to view points on the horizon at 2x and 10x zoom on a display akin to one you're used to looking at on your phone. Instead of raising binoculars to your eyes, obscuring your wider field of vision, the bright, 5-inch screen allows you to observe the view in context, and even lets more than one person examine it at once. 

When I got my hands on the device on the show floor, I found it was easy to move between the different levels of zoom using the two buttons on the top of the binoculars. Rather than a live view, I was shown a view of a landscape with an impressive level of detail. But I'd be curious to see how the DoubleTake performs in a real-world environment.

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Perfect for sporting events, outdoor adventures of birdwatching, the DoubleTake binoculars also allow you to take photo and 4K video, as well as stream whatever you're looking at to your phone thanks to dual 12-megapixel image sensors. This would be particularly useful if you were to attach the device to the underside of a drone -- one use case suggested by NexOptic.

It's a rugged, waterproof device designed for the wildest of environments. It's, on the other hand, quite heavy and bulky compared with many of the pocket-friendly binoculars on the market today. This is due in part to the lens technology incorporated within the device, and in part to a large 5,000mAh battery that should keep the binoculars running throughout your adventures.

The DoubleTake binoculars we're seeing here at CES are in working prototype mode, but should be on sale in final form in the third quarter of this year.

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