Pulsar Accolade XP50 Thermal Binoculars
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- Last updated: 21/09/2018
The thermal market for viewing devices and weapons sights has really taken off and its limits sees no bounds with more types, sizes, orientation and as the price lowers, thus making this technology more accessible to more shooters. We have looked at the monoculars and telescopic sights from Pulsar before and now they have produced a pure thermal binocular system for ease of use, long viewing times and long range high fidelity detection.
The new Accolade thermals are at present hot off the press with two models available at a price that is yet to be decided. Pulsar usually make a high, end all singing and dancing model XP50 and then a Lite XQ38 version, which is more affordable. I had the top former, which is a classic binocular set up with two eyepieces for a comfortable viewing, lithium battery for long life and high resolution thermal sensor. You have storage for pictures and sound, so good as a security tool too. Now you can detect a thermal signature out to 1800 metres and then stalk in for a closer look.
The Accolades are made in Lithuania and have a very good rating with regards to being fit for purpose in the field. Waterproof optics are a must these days and people expect it, so the IXP7 rating ensures flawless system operation in any weather. Size-wise, they seem nice and compact dimensionally, at 164x130x64mm so quite flat and easy to hold. Weight is an easy 600 grams, so again, no strain on the hands or arms, so a long viewing time is no problem.
They are made from a high-density polymer that is formed as a monocoque construction with the base having a watersealed floor that also houses a standard camera thread; so, you can mount them on a tripod for long term and more stable observation. You can fit a strap, as I did, for support and on the left side of the XP50 body is a rubberised panel for grip and the right side is smooth but that because it’s the battery.
Power is supplied by a Lithium ISP5 cell that is removed by a small lever on the front base of the unit. These batteries last for ages, my Trail will last all night, no problem, but you can buy a larger version but then that makes it harder to hold, as it sticks out; it’s up to you.
Up front, is the Germanium lens; F50 on this model with F1.2 aperture for a field of view (FOV) of 12.4 degrees and magnification range of 2.5 to 20x. This gives a good blend of wide view and magnification range, which is controlled for zoom digitally. Behind the lens is the sensor, on this model, you have a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels for a highquality image and combined with the AMOLED, frost-free screen you have a superb image. It is B&W screen with a black or white hot option too.
Also, nice and handy for field use, is the flip-up and attached lens cover. It clips in tight to keep the lens safe and pops down out of the way in use. At the rear, are the twin eyepieces that make a true binocular vision and gives a more relaxed viewing of the target. One thing to note, is that with both eyes viewing the TV screen, you will lose that natural night vision if you then use a scope to sight the target, but more on that in the field test.
Each eye piece has a soft rubber eye cup that folds down and has a side flap to stop extraneous light entering the screen. Below this is a grooved focus ring to both, so you can adjust for your own individual eyesight. You can also set the inter-pupillary distance with the two large adjusters at the base of both eyepieces.
The range on the XP50 is very impressive at 1800 metres, that’s more than enough and in truth it’s a detection for safe use. In this I mean, you will detect a heat signature at that distance, but for safety you need to get closer to investigate. In between the eyepieces is a small circular knob that focusses the image on the AMOLED screen.
Operation is very simple with the usual digital-type, menu-lead operating status by the panel on top. You have a lozengeshaped central button and four circular ones around it. Looking from the back, the left is the ON/OFF button, which requires a short press to activate and held down to turn off. This model turns on in 6 seconds and displays in eight. This is because it calibrates at the same time. You have three calibration modes, automatic, semiautomatic or manual. This can be varied to eliminate any un-useful signals that the XP50 might pick up and thus further increase the image quality.
The right button is for recording that can take a picture or video and is stored on the 8Gb hard drive or set up to live steam to an android device. The central lozenge accesses the main menu and the remaining two buttons are for up or down navigation. The front of these buttons is also used for the zoom step from 2.5 to 20x mag with a brief press, or the Picture in Picture (PIP) view with a longer press down. Finally, the rear button with a brief press also selects the colour palette and a long press selects WIFI ON/OFF.
To start, first switch on and adjust eyepieces to correct width and focus. Then, a short press of the ON/OFF button re-calibrates, and if in semi or manual mode, this is best done with the lens cap closed. You can also set up the brightness, contrast or continuous zoom in the quick menu as you wish. A quick record of picture or video is easy, with that right button push and colour pallet selection with the front button. I like it set at white hot for instant detection and then black hot for finer detail as you get closer.
The rear navigation button has a smooth zoom function with a light press it changes from 2.5x to 5x then 10 x and a max of 20x. If you hold it down, then the PIP window pops up into the FOV at the top of the screen. Now you can keep the main screen at 2.5x mag i.e. default and then adjust the PIP screen to a higher mag. This means you still have a wide field of view with the main screen but defined and more detail with the PIP set at a higher mag. Obviously the clarity is less at the higher mag i.e. more pixel fizz.
I like the feel and tough nature of this XP50, it has enough features that you need for a better viewing and high detection range. The refresh rate is also 50Hz, so no blurred images, just sharp, well-defined viewing, even if you scan left to right a lot, as I do in the woods.
The menu in menu is actually very simple to use, even for me and the AMOLED screen gives a really good, crisp image. What you also really do notice with these thermals being binoculars instead of a monocular, is the relaxed viewing with little to no eye strain. The image or screen also looks bigger and you feel more immersed in the image. True, if used at night, both eyes are having the TV screen light on them and so when you lower the XP50 to take a shot, you will need a short time for the eye to re-adjust. This example seemed to have a very short time to re-adjust, which is really helpful.
I fully charged the battery and from experience with the Trail thermal weapon sight, once switched on just leave it on and it will last all night. It saves that OFF and ON switching in case you miss something.
Range wise, I was looking across 50-acre fields and detecting heat sources the other side and on the hill side ¾mile away I could see horses and deer easily. The Accolade gives a very comfortable viewing for day or night, remember for any heat source and provides a very fine detailed image. This is a very well built and high performance thermal device, further aiding in game spotting or doubling as a great security device also.