It's the new hot-topic, there's a bazillion reviews out there, largely of which have not actually flown the goggles but they all center around one 'feature' - the Field of View. While true, the goggles do indeed have a new smaller field of view compared to that of the previous Fatshark HD3's - 43 degrees to that of the new 37 degrees, I hope to uncover some of my own findings with the goggles with my use of them.
I'd known of them since the first DRL race back in Woodward in February/March time, Wild Willy had a pair with him (prototype of course), and I got to experience them first hand. I didn't particularly notice the screen size, but I did notice the extra clarity and sharpness of the images from the get-go. I only got a brief demo of them, so I didn't really have much to say other than "they seem a little better".
Fast-forward to the end of April, and my next DRL adventure took me to Adventuredome in Las Vegas, where we were all given a pair and were allowed to race with them.
Here's my pair - they have no retail box and they have no usb-rechargable battery, but they're custom painted in my DRL colour direct from Fatshark! Initially I spent a bit of time in the hotel prior to the race switching back and forth between the HDO's and the HD3's I had brought with me just to compare the FoV first-hand - watching DVR of a previous flying session. I then used both pairs of goggles throughout the race (6 or so packs on HD3's, and then testing HDO's on the next packs). I actually stuck with the HDO's for the remainder of the race, and with good reason. The day after I got back I then attended Delta Hawks - a local fun fly event which I commonly go to. I got a chance to fully use them in a new set of flying conditions - sunny weather. And yes believe it or not in the UK it was actually sunny!!
Hey look, there's even a picture to prove it!
I've also used them now at a weekend race just gone - Miniairshow 2018 - the review was a tad delayed due to immense packing for that, so have further race experience and weather experiences with them.
So here's my thoughts:
- Definite improvement of clarity, making racing in particularly noisy or dark environments MUCH easier. Whether you are faster or not will depend on how you use that information, but for me personally I believe I could see enough extra information to warrant the purchase had I had to buy them. Racing-aside I've now freestyled with them too and they do definitely help judging height when flying low over fields etc, as there's just that little bit more detail in the picture to see it all.
- FOV - for me personally I actually prefer it. Racing back to back with the HD3's I preferred being slightly smaller FoV and I felt it made it easier to fly. But I know this is something personal to everyone.
- Improved usage - no longer will going into the DVR menu overlay in a broken format when you happen to be using a goggle module at the same time - just the DVR menu is shown with no nasty picture overlay of both images.
- Improved regulator for power-hungry modules (for Clearview and ImmersionRC modules that means no extra cables to get extra power from the head tracker). While this doesn't affect me yet I'm looking at purchasing a new goggle module as I venture more into freestyle. Not having to route a cable inside the goggles or hook into the power of another part of the goggles is a big plus for me. I'm technical and have no issue doing it, but when it comes to stuff like this I'd rather just not touch it.
- Faceplate cover - the faux leather, as you've probably seen - is a new edition faceplate material added to the fatshark lineup that replaces all of the varying thicknesses of foam we've had previously. For me, it fits my face better, reduces the light leak to 0, and is way more comfortable. It also seems to help on hot days with a reduction in the screens misting up, so that's definitely a plus also.
- The Strap - it's the small things, but with how the strap is sewn, the battery holder is now positioned on the outside of the strap, meaning that battery will no longer be digging into the side of your temple when flying.
- While the faceplace material is more comfortable it does seem to 'dig' into my nose more, and while it is not painful, it does leave a red mark. I'm hoping as they bed in more this will reduce.
- DVR. I'd have LOVED to have seen an advancement here, but as people have said, Fatshark are not a DVR company and so the chip/board used is just one easily obtainable. I'd have loved to have seen a higher bitrate DVR at minimum, but maybe that will come in future.
Overall, for most pilots who WANT/can afford to upgrade, I see no reason not to. Similarly, if someone was looking at buying a pair of goggles, and wanted Fatsharks. There would never be a time I would recommend the Dom V3's or the HD3's over the HDO's - the HDO's just feel like a better goggle to me. Obviously, everyone is each to their own, but that's my $0.02 for you all :).
Oh, and for reference I started on Fatshark Attitude V2's back in 2013 before moving to Fatshark HD2's when they came out. After that I moved to HD3's due to the blurryness issue of the HD2 (I ran diopters but it still wasn't a perfect image), and now I'm here at the HDO's.