When these FPV goggles were first released their price was under £100. Now the price is climbing, and at the time of writing this review the price is just over £120.
Can a set of goggles costing just £120 be any good? AOMWAY were the last manufacturer of note to try and get into the compact binocular goggle segment of the market with their Commander 1 goggles around six months ago. In that case those goggles had most of what you’d expect and worked well but a hefty price tag too..
I’ve seen click-bait titles on the internet for these goggles using phrases like ‘Fatshark Killer’ but let’s be honest here, the majority of the price of modern binocular goggles is in the panels and the advanced optics to let you focus on a screen less than an inch from your eyes so can we really expect that the EV100 goggles from Eachine will perform as well as a set costing three times that much?
The answer of course is ‘no’. But no we’ve got that out of the way, let’s see if how good they actually are..
What comes in the box
In the box you get a simple manual, polishing cloth, the goggles themselves, a battery, two dipole antennas, an adapter for the battery, a USB cable and that’s about it. No AV cables, no spare foam and no frills but the goggles are made from quality plastic and seem well put together.
First of all let’s look at the specs as these details are what got a lot of people excited when they were released and the initial prices of well below £100 started to come out.
The goggles themselves contain dual 720 x 540 panels. They can be adjusted for contrast and brightness and the panels themselves are not bad at all. The colour and contrast are very usable. Remember that analogue signals are only 640 x 480 pixels so the image will fit on this fine.
One drawback of these goggles is the very small field of view (FOV). The FOV is a very average 28 degrees diagonally. Not too bad? Well it’s useable but feels like you’re looking at an average sized TV from the far side of a dark living room.
Compared with the fields of view of the other popular goggles this is small but other low end goggles from manufacturers like Fat Shark have similar fields of views. The first set of goggles I had were 25 degree FOV and moving onto goggles with larger views made flying a lot easier.
Eachine seem to have been out to impress and the lens arrays in these goggles feature adjustable focal length. Beside the IPD adjustment (more on that in a moment) there are two rotating controls that move some of the elements in the lenses. There is one for each eye. This means that you can use these controls to adjust for any sight problem and not need any other corrective lenses. This is a great idea but in practice the whole lens arrays are far from perfect and easy to use.
Just like all of the modern goggles the EV100s feature IPD adjustment. This moves the entire optical lenses from one side to the other so they are in line with your eyes. This is a common feature on modern goggles.
The EV100 also has basic AV in and out. This would allow you to watch videos from other external sources in the goggles. The manual mentions a HDMI adapter but sadly no connection cables, even for basic AV, are included in the box so you’ll have to source them yourself.
One of first things you notice is the dual antennas on the top of the unit. There is nothing in the documentation about true diversity here and at this price I’d suspect that this is simple antenna diversity, which isn’t good at all. A sensitive receiver and good antenna will outperform a poorly setup antenna diversity array.
One welcome feature is ‘Auto-scan’. You can press one of the controls for a few seconds and the goggles will lock onto the strongest signal. This is a nice feature and useful for those times when the model has been left in an unknown state and you need to find the channel to see what’s going on and change the OSD settings.
There is a demisting fan on the top too. It works ok and the little switch is on the bottom of the goggles to turn it on and off. For me, I’d turn it on and leave it on.
There is an OSD for battery and channel/band in the top of the image that can be turned off. This is handy to see what channel and band you’re looking at and checking the battery status too, a nice touch that I’d like to see on much more expensive goggles.
One of the things I am impressed with is the inclusion of a USB connection on the goggles and battery. The connection for the battery is simply to charge it (still very handy as most of us have a USB port that we can use) but the one on the goggles can be used to power them and update the firmware. Wonderful! Too many goggles come without this feature and it’s something I’d like to see more of.
Disappointingly there isn’t a DVR here. The instructions do show how to connect an external one. You can use the ‘balance’ tap connector from the batter to power it and make up one of those AV cables too. A lot of work considering that the cheap DVR units are less than £10..
So now we’ve looked at the specs, what are they like to fly with?
How they are to fly with..
As the goggles only come with one set of detachable foam for the inside of the goggles, some may find the fit a little cramped. For me there was a lot of pressure on the temples as my head isn’t the same radius and shape as the goggles. More expensive goggles supply a second set of thinner form for this purpose and that may have helped here.
The controls are easy to use and navigate when wearing them, the OSD really helps too. Let’s be honest, most of us have a band and channel we have the models set to and actually use the controls very little when flying.
The optics are the big disappointment here. The IPD adjustment seems to have a nice wide range but I struggled to get the two images to appear as one image and screen. When I did finally manage it I found that the image itself did feel very small indeed. Other pilots just couldn’t get the image clear at all.
The independent focus is an exciting innovation but the final effect for the wearer is that you are looking at the screen through cheap binoculars. The edges can appear out of focus and you feel like you are constantly hunting for the ideal placement of all those moving parts. I know suspect that this is why goggle vendors with much deeper pockets haven’t yet tried this setup. It’s tricky to get right.
A few years ago Quanum released their first clam-shell goggles using a Fresnel lens and the market for good clamshell goggles exploded. I’m hoping that these compact goggles will be the first step in the market at this lower price point and be the same spark. Why can’t we get a range of good goggles for less than £150? Let’s hope we can soon.
Goggles like this are an exercise in compromise and I can understand why features like the DVR and cables have been left out to help get to that low price. But they’ve tried to be a little over ambitious with their optics here and I fear that has hang-strung this product.
The IPD and focus adjustable optics are an ambitious attempt with features not found in goggles costing three times the amount but I’d have preferred for them to play it safer, and put that saved cash into an AV cable or maybe even a DVR feature.
Eachine should be applauded for attempting to open up this part of the market but these goggles perform as you’d except for a set costing this money.
If you’re expecting a set of goggles that cost £120 that will give you a similar experience to ones costing three times that much. These are not it.