It’s exciting that thermal imaging seems to be entering the “affordable” market.
The catch 22 is that they will be low resolution devices when you’re searching for thermal under $1000.
The AGM Asp-Micro TM160 is an excellent example of budget thermal imaging. It’s a monocular with 160 resolution, 25 Hz refresh rate, and a small 0.2” LCOS display. Thermal sensitivity allows detection of humans up to 250 yards but is limited in providing recognition inside 100 yards.
Increasing consumer curiosity about it, the low price point, and debated performance was what drove Target Tamers to buy the Asp Micro TM160 and field test it.
We bought it, we tested it, but do we deem it Target Tamers approved?
What We Like: Value
What We Don’t Like: Distance measurement
Best Uses: Short-range use, Day & Night, Adverse conditions, Hunting, Wildlife Observation, Recreational Uses
- Magnification: 1x, 2x, 4x
- Objective Diameter: 6.2 mm
- FOV: 15.61 x 11.74°(H x V)
- Eye Relief: 24-15 mm
- Dimensions: 6.3” / 0.6 lb
Our Verdict: Tempering your expectations when comparing a 160 thermal to a 384 will be key to buyer satisfaction of the Asp-Micro TM160 thermal monocular. It has low resolution but is affordable for the budget conscious and as a starter device for recreational use.
Why Trust Me?
After hundreds of hours of hand-testing thermal monocular in the field and on the hunt, and thousands more hours researching, writing, photographing and creating videos about them, I feel I have earned the title of expert when it comes to optics!
Optics are not just my passion, but also my full-time job!
I get my hands on as many of the optics I test as possible (through buying, borrowing or begging!) and run them through their paces to make sure they will perform out in field.
Check out our optics testing process here.
Over a decade of experience short-range use, wildlife observation and hunting has been integral in putting together this AGM Asp Micro TM160 review.
How Does the AGM Asp-Micro TM160 Perform?
Overall, the AGM Asp-Micro TM160 thermal monocular has very low 160x120 resolution that may leave users wanting. It does not provide significant identification details, but it does a capable job at detecting inside 500 yards. Best recognition performance is within 100 yards.
From my hands-on testing, I’ve come to appreciate the Asp Micro’s performance. It doesn’t pretend to be a long-range thermal nor makes any promises in image quality. 160 resolution is exactly what you would expect – colored blobs until you’re close enough to the target to recognize what it is. I gathered this to be around 50-100 yards.
The 4-button interface is straightforward. Quick presses of the Mode button changes the palette and a long press gets you into the Menu. It’s worth taking the time to learn the Menu because that is where you can adjust for brightness, contrast, calibration, and more.
It’s lightweight at 0.6 lbs and is 6.3” long. The compact size makes it a convenient grab-and-go optic for any excursion as a handheld monocular though it can be helmet or tripod mounted. With the internal 8gb of media storage, I could take JPEG images and record video clips directly from the unit and later view them on my PC.
Because of the immediate, convenient use straight from the box, it’s fully equipped for maximum employment in multiple applications.
Who is the AGM Asp-Micro TM160 Best Suited to?
In general, the Asp Micro TM160 monocular will appeal to those on a budget looking to spend less than $500 on thermal imaging. It meets the requirement for affordability and consequently justifies it as a first-time thermal device buy.
The monocular design limits your visionary experience as it’s a one-eye optic. This can be difficult to come to terms with when navigating the terrain while it’s mounted for hands-free use. But monoculars are cheaper, lighter, and less bulky than binoculars.
Its resolution performance is good enough for short-range hunting and wildlife observation inside 100 yards for maximum recognition performance though it can detect targets much further than that. Though it has limitations, it’s the archetypal thermal for close-range detection on a budget.
Features & Benefits
The AGM Asp-Micro is not intended to be an all-performing, high-quality thermal device. It is entry-level in performance and intended for short-range detection. Thermal imaging is still an expensive technology, but the Asp Micro comes at a cost under $500.
The catch is that the nifty monocular has very low thermal resolution of 160x120. This is as entry-level as it gets and is acceptable for recreational applications as a starter, first-time thermal device.
For all that it offers, it has exceptional value at its price point compared to more expensive 160 alternatives. It’s significantly cheaper than the next upgrade to a 384 resolution thermal monocular.
AGM provided accurate detection ranges for the Asp Micro TM160. On vehicles and large-sized targets, it detects at 611 yards, recognizes at 153 yards, and identifies 76 yards.
Though not overly interested in detecting vehicles, it did prove similar for large mammals such as horses and cows but I only got as far as maybe 500 yards.
The disclosed human ranges are 250 yards detection, 50 yards recognition, and 25 yards identification. I found these detection ranges to be accurate. I could get a little over 250 yards on detection and could recognize human figures at 100 yards.
Birds were much harder to detect through the monocular. Though I was able to pick a small blue bird out at 25 yards, they need to be very close to observe anything meaningful due to their small size and the low 160 resolution of the Asp Micro.
Detection distances were also affected during adverse weather conditions. In rain, fog, and snow, visibility and detection distances were significantly decreased to inside 100 yards. Even so, the contrast of heat signatures between the terrain and humans was remarkable. It will definitely find use in adverse weather even though it’s limited to even closer range use in these conditions.
In general, the TM160 performed true to word in detection distances but expecting identification details as far as it was able to detect is unrealistic. As a first-time thermal device, it performs capably, and I found that it was invaluable at night – you will definitely see if someone is stalking or trying to jump up on you.
The Asp Micro TM160 has its own WiFi Hotspot. It allows for remote, hands-free operation of the monocular and user control through the downloaded application on a device such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.
AGM recommended the T-Vision app from the App Store for iOS devices as they do not have their own app to date. It was easy to figure out once you connect to the monocular’s hot spot. The password to connect to the hotspot is the serial number of your model monocular.
The app allows for user control such as calibration, brightness, contrast, and image/video recording. You can also manipulate zoom from 1x, 2x, and 4x, and the color palettes of Fusion, Red Hot, White Hot, and Black Hot.
A huge benefit of the AGM Asp-Micro is that it comes with a universal ¼”-20 tripod mounting point. With this, it can be mounted to field tripods and helmet/head gear for hands-free operation.
I took advantage of its versatile mounting options and found it perfect for use with full-size field tripods. It’s extremely lightweight, so there were no balancing issues with bench (table-top) tripods. The Asp Micro performed flawlessly for image stability especially useful when recording videos. Recommended for tripod mounting? Yes!
Though mounted without issue for nighttime hands-free use while helmet-mounted, it’s not the easiest to use while mobile. It does look like you’re looking down the tube to a square display that is far forward than your natural vision making it an awkward experience.
Recommended for hands-free use? Yes, if you’re realistic about your mobility expectations.
Though not recoil-resistant, I mounted it to a rail adapter mount for shooting with it. It went on a .22 semi-auto rifle and handled it with ease literally because there’s no recoil. It was paired with a Sig Sauer red dot sight and magnifier and though I wasn’t going for accuracy, it did okay at 25 yards.
Though I could see my DIY thermal targets through the three optics at 50 yards, resolution makes it difficult to trust that I was on my intended POI at this distance. Recommended for weapon mounting? No.
The AGM thermal monocular has a continuous battery runtime of 10 hours. Though perhaps not comparable to night vision, it’s certainly comparable to digital night vision. It has a standby mode to help conserve battery life in the same night of use.
The Asp-Micro has an internal lithium-ion battery that you recharge with the included USB Type-C cable. Red light means charging and green light means go.
The battery icon features three bars in the top right corner of the display when it’s full, and a low battery warning screen will pop up when you’re running low.
While I have run down the battery a few times, it’s easy to give it a quick fix even when you’re on the go. I plugged it in while in my car, let it charge overnight, and it earned more juice while connected to my laptop when I was viewing, transferring, and deleting images and videos from the internal 8gb memory bank.
The distance measurement feature works on the principle of stadiametric rangefinding. Essentially, the Asp-Micro provides a distance based on the known height of a target. There are four measurement modes: Wolf, Bear, Deer, and Custom. Each mode can be adjusted to select preloaded heights.
In my testing, the measured distance was rarely accurate even when using the Custom mode. Additionally, you cannot switch out from meters to yards. This is the only real drawback of the AGM thermal because I found the feature unusable. I suppose that it could be user error and I just haven’t figured out what I’m doing wrong.
Be that as it may, during the day I used my laser rangefinder which was much faster than toggling through the menu of the Asp Micro. I also like to get multiple readings, and after one reading on the thermal monocular, it takes you back to the main display forcing you to enter the menu again.
Thermal imaging does not detect infrared light behind solid objects such as doors and walls. It does not see through glass as it detects heat signatures on the surface and will display a reflection.
In general, the Asp-Micro TM160 is adequate for short-range hunting. Mammals such as deer, coyotes, and elk are detected inside of 100 yards. It works best as a handheld unit for spotting but does not substitute as an alternative for a thermal or night vision clip-on or scope.
The AGM Asp-Micro TM160 has an IP67 dust and water-resistant rating. Though submersible in up to 1m of fresh water for up to 30mins, the electronics are only protected with thin rubber armor. It is rainproof enough for use in wet conditions.
Downloading the recommended T-Vision app and connecting to the Asp-Micro’s Hotspot will enable user control including live streaming for image capture and video recording to a smartphone.
The Asp-Micro TM160 is covered with AGM’s limited 3-year warranty. It is not owner transferable and starts from the date of purchase. Registration is required with purchase details.
We bought it, we tested it, and we deem it Target Tamers approved.
Though not an all-purpose, long-ranging unit, the Asp-Micro TM160 provides decent imaging performance that outmatches its price point.
It’s not for every application under the sun but can be advantageous for many applications under the moon.
Even though it doesn’t require light to work, it did prove to provide better contrast and heat detection at night when there’s significant temperature differences between the terrain and your intended targets.
For a first-time device, it will do for now… especially if that’s what the budget rules.