Hands-On Review: the B&H Gift Card

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One of the cool things about working at B&H is the opportunity some of us have to check out the latest gear from top manufacturers in the electronics world. Envy often circulates when someone gets the call to review a hot new camera or piece of gear. Everyone around me was beyond jealous when I had the opportunity to test the ultimate score: the B&H Gift Card.

The B&H Gift Card reveals itself as a simple design. Elegant. A rectangle with rounded edges. It is thin, flexible, and has a plastic feel. Sometimes, we long for bygone days where many cameras and lenses were made of metal, but the B&H Gift Card, despite its lack of metallic substances, still feels rugged and durable.

For those who want to use the card immediately, there is no assembly required and no accessories to attach or manage. There are no moving parts, no access panels, and no attachment points. The B&H Gift Card operates without batteries and no AC or DC power cord is required. All you have to do is use a coin, fingernail (attached to the finger, please), or even another B&H Gift Card to scratch off the shiny grey latex covering on the back to reveal your PIN.

Of great benefit to some, the card is completely silent in operation, so you can use it in absolutely any noise-sensitive environment.

The card comes in packaging that is minimalist without being Spartan. The design on the cover closely resembles that on the card—a nice touch. Over the years, there has been a significant increase in the attention paid, by product designers, on how items are packaged. Most experts credit Apple with leading this movement, and B&H gives a nod to the art, but most users will probably want to get right to the card, so the engineers have forgone the box-inside-a-box fad of today when packaging the B&H Gift Card.

Size

The B&H design team did not choose random dimensions for the Gift Card. It is manufactured to precisely match the ISO/IES 7810 standard for ID-1 type cards. If you have ever used a credit card before, you will find the B&H Gift Card is identical in all dimensions and will feel comfortably familiar.

This form factor lends itself to the storage and transport versatility of the Gift Card. If you do not want to use it immediately after you receive it, you can slide it into a slot in your wallet usually reserved for a credit card. The strict adherence to the international standard means that the B&H Gift Card will find a snug and comfortable home inside your wallet. Brilliant.

If you want to travel light, you can still bring the B&H Gift Card with you wherever you might travel. It's designed to easily slip into the chest pocket of a shirt, the back pocket of your denim jeans, or even the front pocket of a pair of slacks. Awesome.

Speaking of light, the card weighs 4 grams (0.141 ounces); the packaging doubles that. Even with the packaging, I felt that it didn't weight me down during a full day of travel.

"I carried it around New York City in my wallet, backpack, bicycle pannier, and directly in my pocket. It never slowed me down at all; it was supremely portable."

I wanted to put the card through some logistics paces, so I carried it around New York City in my wallet, backpack, bicycle pannier, and directly in my pocket. It never slowed me down at all; it was supremely portable. Additionally, the B&H Gift Card is so small and portable, B&H will free-ship as many of them as you like to any address in the Lower 48.

Weatherproofing

Action cameras are some of the hottest photography tools on today's market. Many of them, however, require additional accessories to be enable underwater or extreme weather use. The B&H Gift Card requires no such add-ons. Feel free to take it flying, diving, in the tub, on a crowded subway (beware of pickpockets), sailing, or on almost any outdoor adventure in inclement weather. It can handle the elements.

Versatility and use

The simplicity of the Gift Card belies its versatility and flexibility. You might not think that something of this size, with no moving parts and no power source, could do anything besides serve as a 3.370" ruler. If you're using this simply as a ruler, you are missing the entire point of the Gift Card.

Basically, the Gift Card can magically help you purchase ANYTHING at the B&H SuperStore in New York City, or, if you cannot make it to the SuperStore, you can purchase ANYTHING from the extensive B&H website. Added bonus: you can shop with your B&H Gift Card while on the go, using the B&H Mobile App on your compatible smartphone or tablet.

During my hands-on test, I found that my purchase exceeded the value of the card. I'll be honest with you, that is not the best situation in which to find yourself, but it happens to many of us. In a perfect world, the Gift Card would handle any purchase you might have in mind. But, sometimes we all want a little more. No problem—when the Gift Card reaches its limit, you can simply cover the rest of the balance with another payment method.

I put the newest version of the B&H Gift Card through its paces in this hands-on review, but if you have an older version of the Gift Card, and it has not been used, stop sweating. First of all, the new version of the B&H Gift Card is truly awesome, but, because they take no batteries and have no moving parts, the older versions of the Gift Card will work just as well as the newest. How's that for durability? No other product comes close to that kind of longevity. Amazing, indeed. Hats off to the manufacturers.

How to use it

Here is another amazing point about the B&H Gift Card: it will work for anyone. Is there a teenager in your life who needs new earbuds? If so, should you buy them pink earbuds, red, blue, black, or clear? What brand? There are so many options, the chances of buying the wrong item is highly probable. The B&H Gift Card takes all the guesswork out of your shopping. It's a portable device that provides nearly unlimited solutions for you and those on your shopping list. Amazing.

Another angle to consider: Are your family members or friends struggling with what they should purchase for you at B&H? Are you juggling several different B&H item codes in your head and changing your mind every time you log into the B&H website? Well, do your friends and family a favor and say, "Hey, I really don't know what I want for the holidays, but I know where I want to buy it. The best thing you can do is gift me a B&H Gift Card so that I can, once I make up my mind, get exactly what I want."

Summary

Cards like this used to carry the stigma of being a gift that symbolized a lack of thought or concern or familiarity between the giver and the recipient. This stereotype needs to end now. I truly believe that the B&H Gift Card, moving forward, shall symbolize, not a casual pass on the responsibility of gift giving, but quite the opposite... a thoughtful and versatile gift that should always be given and received warmly and graciously.

Whether you are the recipient of one of these incredible cards, or are the giver of such an amazing product, you can be assured of one thing: You, or the recipient of the gift card, will soon have their hands on a multi-purpose, highly versatile, supremely portable, rugged tool for the purchasing of awesome items from B&H.


B&H Gift Card

Monetary Values         $20, 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, 250, 500, 1000
Color         Various (Pantone / Federal Standard)
Material         Plastic
Batteries         None
AC Power Requirement         None
DC Power Requirement         None
Height         3.370" / 85.6 mm
Width         2.125" / 53.98 mm
Thickness         0.03" / 0.76 mm
Corner Radius         0.113" / 2.88 mm
Weight         0.141 oz / 4 g
Operating Temp         -31° to +122°F / -35° to 50°C 
Operating Humidity         5 - 95%
Max Deflection         Less than 0.394" / 10 mm at 122°F +- 2° / 50°C +- 1° and relative humidity less than 60% (no discoloration or delamination) 
Min Peel Strength         0.35 N/mm
Peel Angle         90°
Optical Transmission Density         Greater than 1.3 for 450-950 nm and greater than 1.1 for 950-1000 nm
Certification         ISO/IES 7810 Standard (ID-1)