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JT Spectra Proteus
by Bill Mills
April 2001

JT's Spectra goggle line has undoubtedly been one of the most successful products ever manufactured in paintball - especially on the tournament scene.  Spectra began with the original Spectra goggle/mask system which was followed by the Flex-7 which put a flexible lower portion on the Spectra mask.  The IZE Spectra combined the spectra goggle with colorful masks with a more rubbery lower half increasing the chance of paintballs bouncing rather than breaking.

For 2001, JT has released the Proteus, the next generation Spectra.  While Proteus includes the traditional Spectra goggle frame and lens, and uses Spectra single or thermal lenses, the mask and visor sport a whole new look.

At first glance, the nearly transparent smoke colored mask material looks very rigid and hard, due to its glossy finish.  This is proof that looks can be deceiving.  The plastic used in the Proteus mask is actually quite pliable, providing about the same amount of flex as the hard portions of the Flex-7 or IZE masks.  The lower portion of the Proteus mask is of soft, more flexible material, similar to the lower portion of the IZE or Flex-7.  The percentage of hard protection versus soft protection is increased over the IZE and Flex-7 designs, and more head surface area is protected.

Overall, the Proteus has a whole new look.  It is more curved in the front keeping it closer to the face, while the visor provides more forehead and temple protection.  From the front, the look of the visor is reminiscent of a bicycle helmet.  The long curves of the visor are designed to deflect, rather than break paintballs.

From the side, the lines make the closer fit of the mask's lower portion more evident.  The shape is a bit deceiving, in that it appears to provide less protection down to the jaw and chin than the IZE or Flex-7.  This appearance comes from the shape curving back to the face, making the alignment of the bottom edge to the chin more visible.  

In reality, the Proteus mask is a scant 1.5mm shorter than the Spectra IZE mask at the center, and flanges extend along the back of the jaw area to provide more coverage than previous models. 

Unlike previous Sprectra masks, the Proteus strap attaches to the rear of the mask, while the goggle frame locks into the mask.  This structure counters the "idiot factor" of players removing their mask from their goggles, and with the goggle strap only in back, it does not obstruct hearing.

Hearing and communication are key points in the Proteus design.  Directly in front of the mouth are concentric rings of slots to make it easy to shout to your teammates.  Over each ear is a clear, rigid disk, perforated with fine openings to allow for better hearing.  These disks can be swiveled forward or back, supposedly to provide directional hearing.  In simple trials, pivoting the ear pieces and snapping fingers around the mask, I was unable to notice any directional hearing advantage.  The placement of ear openings, and the strap behind the ears does, however provide better hearing than earlier Spectra masks.

While the thermal lens provides excellent anti-fog protections, players who need glasses often have problems with their prescription lenses fogging.  Protected by the Proteus visor is the new Vortex fan.  Not only is the Proteus the first goggle to include a fan as a standard feature, but the "AAA" battery is included as well.  The three position switch is off in the center, and can be turned on to either blow air into the goggle from the top, or to draw it out.  

Mirrored JT logo medallions on the visor and sides of the mask add to the Proteus' all new look.  Some players will embrace the new style and the new features that come with it.  For those who don't, the Flex-7 and IZE Spectra masks are still available.

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