Over the past few weeks, the team at tDCS.com has had the opportunity to try and review the BrainDriver V2.1 tDCS device. We will discuss the pros, cons and provide feedback from our hands on use of the device. If you are looking for a tDCS device and not sure which one you want to buy, we hope this review provides value insight to make your decision easier.
OUR REVIEW: HERE ARE OUR THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS OF THE BRAINDRIVER V2.1 TDCS DEVICE
The BrainDriver tDCS device is a pretty straightforward product. In terms of easy of use, we found it to be one of the easiest devices to use. After turning on the device, pressing the T button (timer) will alternate between the 20 min and 30 min session options found on the device, then using the up/down arrows you could easily select the desired output current intensity. The device has preset options of .5 mA, 1 mA, 1.5 mA and 2 mA. After you have selected the desired timer and current settings, press the start (play button) to begin your session. Of course you still need to prepare the electrodes and position them based off your intended use, but operation of the device itself was a breeze. One thing we did not like was that you could accidentally push the timer button (T) after a session has started which seems to reset the timer on the device. We did not find this to be a large issue and easily avoidable. In all fairness, accidentally pushing a button can happen across many of the devices available on the market.
The manual that was included with the device provided detailed step by step instructions on how to prepare the electrodes. These are the instructions we used to prepare the saline for our sessions. We found it to be simple and there are many videos on youtube that demonstrate how to make your own saline. However, we do prefer and recommend to use 0.9% saline solution which can be purchased online or from your local pharmacy. This is the same concentration of saline used in research studies as well as by medical professionals. Depending on your eyesight, the included manual might be a little small to refer to in which case, you can easily refer to the online version on their website. If you would like to refer to the manual online, it can be found here: BrainDriver Instruction Manual. After using the device for the first time, you will not need the instruction manual anymore.
Not included in the instruction manual is the placement of the electrodes, commonly referred to as the montage. The reason that this is not included is that tDCS is considered an investigational technology and intended for general wellness. Because there is no indication for use that is FDA cleared, such as using tDCS for depression, a manufacturer is not able to provide electrode placement instructions. Luckily, tDCS.com has put together this montage guide which contains placement (montage) images and references to publications to help guide you. We do of course still highly recommend you do your own due diligence prior to using any tDCS device.
On the BrainDriver, once you press start to begin a session the device will ramp up to the set current over approximately 10 seconds. Once the device ramps up it will continue to deliver the set current for the 20/30 min session duration. At the end of a session when the timer has finished, the device will ramp back down over approximately 10 seconds. These characteristics are important in a tDCS device as you need a ramp up/down feature to avoid the sensation of feeling lightheaded and the BrainDriver does a good job of addressing this.
WHAT’S INCLUDED WITH THE BRAINDRIVER V2.1 TDCS DEVICE
Like many tDCS starter kits on the market, the BrainDriver comes with everything you need to get started.
- (1) BrainDriver V2.1 tDCS Device
- (2) Round, carbon rubber based electrodes with a 2 mm pin connector
- (4) Sponge insert pads
- (1) Elastic headband
- (1) 2 mm pin connecting cable
- (1) 9 volt battery
- (1) Instruction manual
Overall this is a well balanced starter kit. We would have liked to have seen an additional headband or a better headband included. Though the one included is good for frontal tDCS placement location, it would not allow you to do some of the other montages that require electrodes not be placed parallel to each other. One example might be F3 (anode) Fp2 (cathode), commonly used for depression. Also, like we mentioned earlier, the included instruction manual was a little hard to read due to its size. However, the manual is available online here: BrainDriver Instruction Manual. Though the starter kit does not come with saline, the manual does provide instructions as to how to make your own. If you do prefer to purchase saline, we recommend 0.9% saline solution.
With the BrainDriver starter kit, you will be able to get started right out of the box. It is a fully stocked starter kit and is more then enough to get you started with tDCS. If you decide you want to get an additional headband for certain montages or after you have used the included sponge inserts and need replacements, you can purchase them directly from the BrainDriver.
BRAINDRIVER TDCS COMPARED TO OTHER TDCS DEVICES
So far in our review, the BrainDriver has done pretty well. However, an important question still remains. How does this device compare to the other devices available on the market?
The BrainDriver is a mid-tier tDCS device. The device itself lacks some of the features found on higher end devices like the Activadose, such as a real time current meter and the ability to have ramp up/down when changing the current once a session has started. What we found during our testing is even though the BrainDriver did have a ramp up during the initial start of the session, should you change intensity during a session the change in intensity happened right away. For example, if you started at .5 mA but then increased to 2 mA, the device would jump from .5 mA to 2 mA very quickly. Though most users are not going to switch from .5 mA to 2 mA once a session has started, it is something we noticed with the device. Another feature that other devices have is that they lock the timer once a session has started, whereas BrainDriver does not. This has its own pros/cons. Pro: If you are doing a 20 minute session and want to extend it another 20 minutes you could easily do so without starting a new session. Cons: If you are doing a 20 minute session and accidentally push the timer button, it would reset the timer and you would lose track of where you were in the session. The accessories included with the device could also be better. We would have liked to see an additional headband included as well as the option to choose larger electrodes. Where the BrainDriver shined was its ease of use and ability to accurately deliver the current. Setting up the BrainDriver was very easy and when the current was measured with an oscilloscope as well as with a multimeter, it was found to be accurate and have low noise. Also, the BrainDriver device has a maximum of 22 volts which is sufficient to be able to deliver 2 mA of current. Some other devices on the market, such as the Brain Stimulator, have a very low compliance voltage (12 volts) and are unable to overcome the impedance of the skin to deliver 2 mA reliably. At a price point of $134.99 (as of 8/6/2020), the BrainDriver is an excellent device for the price.
If you would like additional information on the BrainDriver device as well as see how the other devices rank in comparison, see our Best tDCS Device rankings.
BRAINDRIVER PROS AND CONS
Here we have a quick summary breaking down the pros and cons of the BrainDriver unit. Overall, the device has shown to be great entry level device and can even be a top choice among the more seasoned tDCS users.
- Very simple to set up and use
- Great device for a low cost
- Has built in ramp up/down feature
- Can easily be used with 3rd party larger electrodes
- Can accidentally reset the timer
- Limited time and current settings
- No real time current meter
- Electrodes are small
Is this device perfect? No, and it does not claim to be. There do exist better devices out there on the market but at its current price point of under $150, this device is a great tDCS device that does exactly what it needs to do at a deal that is hard to beat. This device is for those who are interested in tDCS and want a cost effective device. We would recommend choosing this device over other devices such as the brain stimulator, omni stimulator or prior mind systems.
Liked our review and are interested in purchasing a BrainDriver tDCS Device?
Alternatively, you can purchase the device from Amazon.