In this article, I give you my quick review of the Star Trek Communicator Bluetooth device by The Wand Company. The original Star Trek series from the 1960s brought us some of the most iconic gadgets ever seen on TV, the coolest of which, in my opinion, is the communicator.
Various toy replicas have cropped up over the years to let every kid play Captain Kirk and Nokia even built a few lookalike smartphones in 2008, but it took Star Trek’s 50th anniversary and a company obsessed with detail to bring a working communicator to the mainstream.
Before we make our first phone call, you need to understand just how much care went into building this replica. The cheesy holograms, chintzy plastics, and bad proportions of older toys are gone, replaced by stamped aluminum and electroplated steel.
The dimensions of the ABS chassis are unassailable. They come from a 3D laser scan of one of the original props used on the show. Even the grain of the casing material gets close to replicating the 1960s era Kydex.
Flip it open to see a screen-accurate mesh texture on the microphone and meticulous reproductions of the original Swarovski crystals over the indicator lights. They’re plastic, but they look great.
The animated moire over the speaker uses the same simple optical illusion produced for the show, except here, the spinning disk is driven by a tiny electric motor instead of a stopwatch.
The communicator is presented beautifully in a stylized case alongside a wireless charging dock and a soft carrying pouch, all of it decorated with Starfleet branding, circa 2265.
The only major inaccuracy on the prop is the government-mandated license plate, and even here, Wand has snuck in a couple of Easter eggs to soften the blow.
Before today, this level of quality would have run you hundreds of dollars, just for a static replica, but this communicator actually communicates. Pair it to any Bluetooth enabled phone and any call you make will be routed through it.
The first day I had it, I took it on a walk across town for a half-hour phone conversation, and while the other party said they could hear the sound of passing cars and the occasional gust of wind, the background noise wasn’t bad enough to prevent me from being understood. On my end, the communicator speaker was loud enough, but just barely. If I have one gripe about the communicator, this is it. In a world where relatively thin smartphones can kick out some super loud sound from their speakers, I expected more oomph from a handheld this beefy.
That said, if you confine your conversations to your quarters, it’ll do you just fine. And you should be able to talk for a while too. I usually got at least two days of moderate to heavy use between recharges. It’s impressive how much functionality Wand crammed into a device with no display, no companion app, and only two buttons.
The right-hand knob hides a five-way jog switch. Short clicks trigger memorable phrases from the show like: [Communicator] “Scotty here, Captain”.
While long presses up or down control volume and side clicks let you skip tracks in your music player. The buttons can also be used to answer calls, but as with the old clamshell cellphones, it’s much more fun to flip to answer and to hang up. And you don’t have to stick to boring old voice calls either.
If you use the communicator with an Android device or iPhone pressing the right button triggers the voice interface and I was surprised to discover just how much I could do without ever touching my phone.
Alright, let’s come back to Earth for a sec. Carrying a second device to do all that is much less convenient than just pulling out your phone to do the same thing, I know. And also, this isn’t like a 4G smartwatch that lets you leave your smartphone at home.
To use the communicator’s more advanced features, you need to have your phone on you and you need a fairly quiet environment to be able to hear and be heard. With its price range, those limitations will give mainstream buyers pause and rightfully so.
But then, of course, the communicator isn’t for them. It’s for the hardcore Star Trek nerd who’s wanted a working communicator his or her whole life. And Wand hasn’t just delivered on that dream. It’s raised the bar for every novelty gadget maker out there, by creating a near museum quality replica in the process.
If you’re a Trek fan like me, you won’t regret laying down some platinum for the Wand communicator. And even if you’re not, you’ve gotta admit, it’s a very cool reminder that we’re finally living in the future.