Review: Insight Pro/ Insight ESP by Hugo Shelley

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Madame Curator” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left”][vc_column_text]Mentalism has gotten increasingly popular over the years and it’s easy to see why. I have personally known many talented close up workers who have decided to leave their finger flicking past and begin their deep and wondrous journey into the magic of the mind. I don’t know of any who have gone the other route; mentalists who shuck their tools of the trade in favour of entertaining people with fancy card tricks and sleight of hand. Still the beautiful thing about life is the variety of choices we have… there is something for everybody. Hugo Shelley’s products may not be for everybody, but they’re an absolute treat for the discerning professional. This is my review of Hugo Shelley’s Insight Pro and Insight ESP.



The use of electronic mentalism is on the rise; obviously because it helps performers achieve impressively impossible feats that were simply not feasible a decade or so ago. This review, and a short Q&A with the creator, aims to help you make an informed decision in making that investment with regards to Insight ESP and Insight Pro (the upgraded edition).

But first, in case you’re a little fuzzy about what Insight Pro is all about, here’s the official description from Hugo’s website:


The Insight ESP edition basically replaces the Phoenix deck of 52 playing cards with 5 blank cards and 5 ESP cards – you get the usual symbols: Circle, Cross, Wavy Lines, Square, Star. Obviously, all are chipped. Besides a booklet of instructions, as well as, a set of provided routines and ideas (both very professionally printed), you also get a velcro strap that lets you secure the provided reader snugly to your wrist. The black box it comes in is extremely sturdy and well-made, it is by no means of cheap filmsy cardboard stock. The classy packaging already shows this is a product made with pride!


One thing that seemed to concern owners of the very first edition of Insight, was the slightly larger dimensions of the card box which contained the chipped deck, along with alleged difficulty in containing the full chipped deck in a regular card box. I immediately went to make a check, comparing the provided Insight Pro deck of 52 cards with my regular Phoenix deck, purchased from the nice fellas at CardShark.


As you can tell from the photo above (regular deck “master edition” in foreground, Insight Pro “tournament edition” in background), while there is a minute different in the thickness of the card boxes, there’s virtually no difference when it comes down to the actual cards.


The quality of the Insight Pro cards (which for your convenience are already pre-programmed) are amazingly impressive, and you can also tell the awesome quality from the above picture. The cards shuffle like a dream and feel really good in your hands. They’re incredibly well made, velvety smooth and do not in any way look dodgy or tempered with. There are no bumps whatsoever.


Popping the deck of 52 chipped cards into my regular card box, I could easily case it with no difficulty whatsoever. There’s no need to remove any cards or work with an incomplete deck with Insight Pro. Slipping the chipped deck back into its original card box, I realized there was plenty of space in there…


…Absolutely perfect for including all 10 cards from the Insight ESP pack! The lid closed easily and it was a super comfy fit of 52 cards + 5 ESP cards + 5 blank (fill it in yourself) cards. Nice.


The five ultra-thin adhesive tags (pictured above with the Insight ESP set) can be purchased directly from Hugo; it allows you to get creative since you can easily programme the reader accordingly. The reader needs to be at least 11cm from the singled out selection to read the chip effectively – that’s fantastic, because it’s a distance shorter than the length of your regular Sharpie marker!

So how thin exactly is the Insight Pro/ ESP reader? Since you need to wear it on your sleeve/ upper arm, it better not be bulky and uncomfortable right… Well, here’s some photos of my unit 🙂



Like a supermodel, it is incredibly thin! When I picked up the reader, I was mighty impressed with the handy size and it is incredibly light! Here is another picture of the other side, where you can clearly see the switch and charging port… which really isn’t very thick!


Least you say I’ve hands of a giant, here’s a ruler proving its lithe dimensions.



Switching on/ off the device is easy peasy and a clever buzz lets you know when it is ready for you to rock and roll. Some practice is needed for you to get used to making credible gestures with your hand, allowing your hidden reader to get close enough to the chipped card for an accurate reading. The buzzing is strong enough for you to feel comfortably, and not loud enough to be picked up by others.

Reading multiple cards, one at a time, is no problem. There is no down time and the battery life is solid. Just to be safe, simply carry a portable mobile phone charger with you to juice up the unit before a gig and you will be good to go! A cable is provided in the box, but any regular Android charger would work perfectly.


If you own an iPhone 4S and above, you can also pay for the Insight Reader app (easily downloadable from the App store) which allows you to pair it to your Apple Watch and stealth bluetooth ear piece. Besides silently buzzing your apple watch with a visual of the selection and/ or vocalising the selection in your hidden bluetooth earpiece, the selection will also be shown on the screen of your iPhone when you run the App.

These are clever options that are provided to suit different performers, since every professional has their own unique presentational style. Of course you can choose to negate these additions and just stick with the basic, that’s completely fine too 🙂

Having said all that… So what is it exactly that makes Insight Pro the top choice in today’s current niche market with similar offerings?


The traditional way of making an RFID deck is to carefully split regular cards and insert the chips by hand. The end result is a deck that might look OKish from a distance BUT once you handle the deck, you will feel a bump inside the cards where all the chips stack up on top of one another. If your spectator can’t fairly handle the deck, then the only way for them to choose a card is to either fan them yourself or mix the cards around on a table.

Insight Pro does not have this limitation; your audience can completely handle all the cards and like I mentioned earlier, they also won’t feel there’s anything amiss with your cards at all! Chips in the Insight deck are added during the manufacturing process, making the cards not only the thinnest RFID deck available, but also the flattest.

Remember how I was raving about the feel of the cards? I asked Hugo about the deck and he shared that Insight Pro/ ESP cards are incredibly resilient as they are made of a composite material that feels like paper, but is waterproof and tear-proof. These cards just don’t wear out, and will look as good as new several years after you first bought them!
Insight has a variety of other interesting features that you can’t find in other products – the ability to read multiple cards, for example. Hugo also shared that his Insight receiver is one-of-a-kind. It’s about 30% smaller than anything else on the market, with more than 50% extra range. This makes it much easier to perform – the small size fits your wrist and the extra range opens up a number of news ways to read the cards. Personally, I am throughly impressed with this nifty James Bond device. It will make you feel like 007 😉


Before I wrap up the review, here’s a short Q&A with Hugo Shelley that will give you a bit more… insight… about his creations:

When will your Insight Reader be ready for sale on the Google Play store, for Android users?

We hope to release an Android app in mid-2017!

Can you pair the current Insight Reader app with an Android watch, not just an Apple Watch?

Even if you have an Apple watch, you still need the iPhone to receive the signal and forward it to the watch. Some smartwatches (like the Pebble) can also receive notifications from the iPhone – so it’s possible to use those too.

Is it okay to charge the device overnight instead of just 2 hours? Will it affect the battery life?

When the battery is full, it will stop charging. So there’s no problem with leaving it on charge overnight!

What brand new electronic mentalism miracles may we expect next from you and your team?

The next version of Sixth Sense (our magnetic coin detector) will be arriving in February 2017. We have something else being released at the same time but for now it’s top secret!


Hugo Shelley’s Insight Pro & Insight ESP is truly an amazing piece of kit, which comes highly recommended with two thumbs up! Remember, with great power come great responsibility 😉 The ideas and routines provided by professional UK mentalists Mark Elsdon and Colin Cloud only serve to whet your appetite and inspire even more amazing presentations that you can dream into reality. Customer service is also top notch, deserving of a full 10 stars. Highly recommended!

Magic is our passion but we are not a magic shop ? You can purchase this here!

[usr=10][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Insight Pro by Hugo Shelley[/vc_column_text][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”gp-standard-sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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