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REVIEW – For people living their best outdoors lives knowing what’s going bump in the night is a valuable asset. Whether it’s protecting your food from sneaky nocturnal thieves or being able to observe night-loving wildlife, seeing in the dark is pretty useful. The Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars are an affordable way to see what’s happening after the sun goes down. Available for the low price of $129 the NV3180 has a lot of limitations and isn’t exactly cutting edge technology, but it’s right in line with similarly featured night vision devices.
The Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars are infrared-capable digital goggles with a fixed 3X zoom, a 4X digital zoom, and a maximum resolution of 1080p. To be clear, since the NV3180 technically only has one tube through which to view objects it isn’t really a set of binoculars, it’s more of an advanced monocular. The NV3180 records video and still images to a removable Micro SD Card and functions in both daylight and darkness using an infrared LED to illuminate up to 984ft. away.
The Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars arrive in a small box featuring photos of the unit action as well as some basic specifications.
The design of the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars is similar to most other night vision goggles in its class, there’s a viewing screen, control buttons, and two tubes on the front; an infrared illuminator tube and an image intensifier tube.
The NV3180 is made primarily of rubber, plastic, and glass. The eye shield, control buttons, and port cover are rubber, the body and tubes are plastic, and the lenses are glass. The unit is rated at IP54 which makes it water and dust resistant but not waterproof.
There are six control buttons; two for changing the IR and zoom levels, one for accessing the menu, one for power, one for selecting the mode, and one for taking a shot or video.
The two tubes on the front of the NV3180 serve different functions. The one on the right in the photo is the image intensifier tube, which you see through. The tube on the left in the photo is the Infrared LED illuminator which is basically an IR flashlight that is visible only through the viewscreen. The IR Illuminator allows the unit to function in darkness.
The manual focus for the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars is on the image intensifier tube. This focus has to constantly be adjusted when using the device to keep images sharp.
The eye shield around the 2.3-inch viewscreen is soft rubber for cushioning your face. If you wear glasses though, your face won’t come anywhere near the unit since the eye relief is pretty bad. For a clear image, I have to hold the NV3180 about three inches away.
The screen itself has a modest resolution of 960P x 240P which is fine since the field of view for the NV3180 is so small.
There are four rubber pads on the bottom of the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars along with the battery compartments and tripod adaptor.
The tripod adaptor is a standard 1/4” thread for mounting the unit for stationary use.
The battery compartments are on either side of the tripod adaptor. The NV3180 takes six AA batteries, which adds to the weight of the unit significantly.
The sides of the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars are both textured plastic for enhancing grip but on the left side there’s a rubber insert covering the USB and Micro SD ports.
Both ports serve the same function, offloading the images and videos from the NV3180.
You can choose to connect the NV3180 directly to a Mac or PC with the included USB-A to Micro USB cable.
Or you can use the included Micro SD card reader and 32GB Micro SD Card to move the files from the NV3180 to your computer.
For some reason, the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars I reviewed ships with a small flashlight with a green lens. The flashlight and green lens serve no purpose in conjunction with the goggles but are a nice addition, I guess. The flashlight uses one AA battery, also not included.
The NV3180 comes with a small microfiber cloth for cleaning the lenses.
For carrying the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars around HAPIMP includes a small, zippered case with a carrying strap. I was able to fit the NV3180 along with the flashlight and USB cable with no problem at all.
Since holding the NV3180 for prolonged periods of time could get tiring there’s also an included neck strap.
The ends of the neck strap attach securely to the metal loops on either side of the NV3180.
The only setup needed for using the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars aside from installing six AA batteries is formatting the Micro SD Card and setting the date. The Micro SD Card can be formatted easily from any PC or Mac using the included Micro SD card reader or directly from the device using the built-in menu.
From this menu, you can also change the date as well as settings like photo and video resolution, night vision sensitivity, and the auto power-off timing. The menus are easy to navigate using the device buttons once you get the hang of the control scheme.
Taking into account the low price of the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars, I tried very hard to keep my expectations low, especially since I have experience with high-end night vision devices. Even with my low expectations though, the NV3180 still managed to disappoint. As you’ll see in my test videos since the NV3180 has a fixed 3X zoom and a small field of view it’s practically impossible to keep something in focus while moving. And even if the unit is kept stationary on a tripod the low image resolution is still underwhelming. Maybe having a 4K camera built into my cell phone and in my pocket at all times has spoiled me for 1080p video, but none of the footage I took seemed useful.
The other frustrating aspect of these types of night vision devices is the design. Since you are viewing everything through a small bright video screen there is a lot of light being projected into your eyes while you’re in complete darkness which results in temporary blindness when you look away from the device. Also, if you are trying to keep a low profile the bright red light of the IR illuminator coupled with the bright white light of the viewscreen make you instantly visible to any night creatures you might be trying to covertly observe.
For testing, I used my Pixel 5 to take some control photos in order to compare the images to the ones taken by the NV3180.
This first shot is of my pup Addy fast asleep in the dark. With no special settings, the Pixel 5 just barely picks up her white fur.
The same shot with the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars shows how effective the night vision capability of the IR illuminator is but also reveals the limitations of such a small field of view and the fact that the red light from the IR illuminator woke her up. So much for sneaking up on the elusive Norwegian couch hippo.
In daylight, the NV3180 functions much like a poor-resolution digital camera. This shot of a small bush outside my building took several tries because keeping the device steady enough for an in-focus capture is very difficult.
The same shot at night using the night vision function isn’t much better but does allow you to see with the device what you’re unable to with the naked eye.
In another test, I took this shot of the view from my apartment with my Pixel 5 with no special settings activated.
The same shot with the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars shows how poor the overall image quality is even in normal light.
The 4X digital zoom didn’t really help the situation since a digital zoom simply magnifies the existing image with no optical resolution gained.
The NV3180 comes with three built-in color modes which serve no practical use at all. There’s this “Luminous Green Color Effect” which just tints the whole image green.
And the “Infrared Light Effect” which tints the image magenta. There’s also a black and white mode and a “Colorful Effect” which is simply a full-color image.
For the video tests, I took thirty-second videos in daylight and then attempted to repeat the same videos in darkness to show the difference. In all of these videos, I am trying to manipulate the manual focus on the fly to keep the images sharp. Also, it’s important to remember that the Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars do not record sound.
This video of a walk down my block shows the poor white balance on the NV3180 and how hard it is to keep the image in focus while moving.
The Coolife HAPIMP NV3180 Night Vision Binoculars do allow you to see in the dark, but the small field of view and poor image quality really take away from the experience. At $129 I wasn’t expecting very much since professional night vision devices usually start at around $2000, but I was still disappointed in the overall image quality. Using a tripod with the built-in mount might address some of the shortcomings of the NV3180 if you plan on keeping it stationary and focused on a small area of observation. Otherwise, if you have your heart set on seeing in the dark start saving your money and spend it on a professional unit.