Back in 2015, when I reviewed the first "crowd funded" tentacle sync, there was very little not to like about it. I was stating that after such a strong first product I am very excited to see how the tentacle syncs will evolve. I spent almost a month with the new 2nd generation tentacle sync E jam boxes and like the predecessors they do once again impress with innovation.
The Tentacle Sync E carries over the same great features as the classic version:
Small and light. Very Light. Allows for easier and more secure mounting on a camera and Camera Operators smiles.
Rock Solid variable level Time Code that keeps approximate RTC even if shutdown and restarted The variable TC level is great for jamming picky cameras "RED" (:
Internal microphone More useful than I expected especially with Red
Integrated Velcro Cool
Impressive 35 hours run and fast charging battery system
Better and more convenient than battery charging and changing AA and AAA
So, what has changed?
A lot. Tentacle went all out on the improvements
The Internal Microphone quality is improved which is always welcome for a scratch track. Battery is now replaceable and tentacle will have battery kits for sale.
Back in 2015 I noted that locking connector is really something that I cannot live without. The new E Unit Tentacle delivers very ingenious and elegant plastic clamp locking solution. I was intentionally but unsuccessfully trying to disconnect it and I even let the jam box hanging a whole day by a 1-inch short bnc to mini trs cable. I feel like the natural evolution in the future tentacle sync will be a small jam box that just plugs directly in to the bnc without mounting (:
The most impressive improvement is the low energy Bluetooth and the software behind it. It gives full control and monitoring over each individual unit and even alerts if a cable has been disconnected "which actually did alert me once when an AC disconnected the Tentacle when a camera was changed from on a tripod to a jib." I did not really appreciate how useful the software is before I actually used it. I was working a commercial and there were a few people who wanted to take notes. I just had them install the software on their own phones and VOALA. I wish there were 2 version of the software: one for setup and one for viewing only so people don’t try to mess with the setup. And it would cool if the viewing one can have a note adding that exports to pdf.
But most of all being able to just monitor the sync status of the whole set remotely without having to go to each camera and manually comparing time code from the unreliable camera screen is a luxury I believe no other jam box on the market provides such a simple monitoring solution. "Ambient ACN and TCS BIink need special hardware and seam a lot more complicated." I wish this can be added to recorders in the future in some kind of universal Low Energy Bluetooth protocol so I don’t have to use a phone and look unprofessional while doing it.
What about the support?
I found a bug in the android app showing the wrong time code in the devices menu even though everything was in sync. It looked like a NTSC issue "most of the world don’t use NTSC so a small oversight". I contacted Max and 2 days later the google play store had the fixed app update. In conclusion: There are so many things going for the tentacle sync apart from price and idiot proof operation but honestly there are few very important qualities: Weight and size. We live in times where strong and light plastics and small electronics are technologically available but a lot of field production sound manufactures make everything build like a tank. It does not have to be like that anymore. Regardless if it is in the bag or on a camera gear needs to be small, light. And also in tentaclesyncE case use modern innovative technology while keeping it simple for the end user.
With such a track record I am looking forward to a great 3rd generation product.
note: the ambient ACN is similar but it needs the big masterlockit to BE ABLE TO MONITOR TIME CODE and it is just not as simple as Tentacle sync.
I am not familiar with the TimeCodeSystem gear but it seams it needs special hardware and a lot more complicated.