The ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of Binoculars Sadly Contains No Knives

The ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of Binoculars Sadly Contains No Knives
Gif: Ricoh

If you’ve ever thought to yourself: I could really use a pair of binoculars that could be separated into two monoculars and could then be combined into one telescope, well, you’re in luck. Today Ricoh announced the Pentax VD 4X20 WP — just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? — which is a 3-in-1 device that the company describes as the “Swiss Army knife” of binoculars.

Don’t get too excited — there are no actual knives inside. To be honest, that would make the Pentax VD 4X20 WP a must-buy, but as it stands, the device sounds extremely cool and useful.

As binoculars, the $US250 ($351) 4X20 WP magnifies objects four times. When you separate the barrels and snap them together to become a telescope, you get 16x magnification. You can also use each barrel as a monocular — this is good for sharing — with the same 4x magnification. The binoculars’ neck strap separates into two hand straps for the monocular action. This is perfect if you’re out and about with a less nerdy pal and spot a particularly awesome bird or perhaps a Rear Window murder situation. (It’s 2020 — literally anything is possible.)

Even if you don’t need to peep from a distance, just the act of breaking these binoculars in half over and over seems so soothing. (I personally can’t stop staring at the GIF above.)

Ricoh has another multi-functional new product also debuting today. The $US140 ($197) Pentax VM 6×21 WP Monocular is a one-handed device that can be used on the go to see objects magnified up to 6x, but its accessories (available a la carte or with the 6×21 for a $US200 ($281) bundle) make it even more useful. A smartphone adaptor lets you snap the device to your phone’s camera lens to capture magnified images, and a macro stand lets you use the monocular as a microscope for viewing objects magnified 18x. A built-in LED light eliminates shadows from that view.

And a couple of $US80 ($112) pairs of more basic binoculars are also going to be available, if you want more lightweight options than can magnify objects up to 3 meters (a little over 2.74 m) away.

All of Ricoh’s new devices go on sale in the U.S. in September. Stay tuned for any news of an Australian release.