The Reveal Thermal Imaging Cam Craves Danger

Last year Seek helped bring thermal imaging tech to the masses with a sleek little module that attached to your smartphone. But what if you wanted go somewhere that a fragile phone wasn’t exactly welcome, like a foundry, autoshop or even a burning building? Now, Seek has an answer for that too, with its latest handheld thermal camera: The Reveal.

At $399, it’s more expensive than previous thermal cams, but that’s because Seek has packed the same heat-detecting sensor into a new rugged body that works without a smartphone or tablet required. The sensor has a resolution of 206 x 156 and features a max range of 500 feet with a 36 degree field of view. And like its smartphone-based siblings, the Reveal can detect temperatures ranging from -40 to 626 degrees Fahrenheit.

MORE: Best Waterproof and Rugged Cameras

Inside you'll also find a 300 lumen LED flashlight built-in, for the times when your eyes can't get by only on heat-based imaging. There's also a non-touch screen with three physical buttons along the top (so you can still use it while wearing gloves), a microSD slot for storing photos and a micro USB port for recharging the battery or transferring pics to another device. Seek says the Reveal should last more than 10 hours of continuous camera use.

Recently, I got a chance to go hands-on with a final version of the Reveal two weeks before it starts shipping later this month. Unlike the delicate camera module from last year, the chunky blue case feels much more durable – especially with the chunky rubber bumpers on every corner. According to Seek, the Reveal should be able to withstand being underwater for up to 1 minute at a depth of 1 foot.

For temperature measurements, Seek made a few changes to the Reveal’s interface. It moved the readout to the bottom portion of the display, instead of next to the crosshair in the middle. Seek said this was a change requested by customers, especially emergency service personnel, as it makes finding things when using the device’s display less distracting.

As a flashlight, the 300 lumen setup is super bright, but also features an adjustable output so you can make it exactly as bright as you want to.

So if you’re looking to spot the leak in your water heater or spy a sneaky pheasant while hunting, Seek’s Reveal is made to go where none of its previous thermal cams have been able to go before. Pre-orders are available now, with shipments going out sometime in mid-October.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).