The best FPV goggles
Drones are great fun and hugely popular, and a pair of first person view (FPV) goggles take things to another level. With FPV goggles, you're no longer on the ground -- you're in the pilot's seat. You can see everything your drone sees. We've been looking at what's available, and we've put together a concise but comprehensive guide to help you with your choice. We've also made a few recommendations. Our favorite, the Fat Shark HDO Dominator headset, is consistently rated at the top of independent reviews and offers perhaps the ultimate in-flight experience.
Smartphones, VR headsets, and full FPV goggles
You can control many drones through a smartphone app, but it's difficult to look at the screen and your aircraft at the same time. One solution is to buy a cheap VR headset that you can slot your phone into. It's the least expensive type of FPV goggles, but there are drawbacks. You have to get the right tray for your phone, cheap headsets often leak light (which spoils the image quality), and of course your phone is tied up while you're flying. When you look at the difference in value, flying experience, and convenience, FPV goggles are the clear winner.
Considerations when choosing FPV goggles
There are two styles, compact goggles and box goggles. To make matters confusing, the latter might also be called mini FPV goggles.
Compact goggles are shorter from front to back. They save space by having one small screen for each eye rather than a single large screen, and they are often affordable. The main drawback is that if you wear glasses, they won't fit comfortably -- though it might be possible to buy diopter lenses for the goggles. That aside, the two types of goggles provide similar experiences, though box goggles are much more popular and offer wider choice. So what other aspects should you look at?
Almost all FPV goggles run at 5.8 GHz frequency (though some are 2.4 GHz) and provide 32 or 40 channels. Auto detection allow your goggles to easily connect to your drone.
Screen resolution is probably the biggest difference. Screens vary from 320 x 240 to 1080p. OLED screens are the current best option, providing vivid colors and brighter images. Screen size runs from 3 to 5 inches.
Field of view (FOV) is how wide of an image you see. FOVs of 30º are common, but up to FOVs of up to 45º are available.
Aspect ratio is the shape of the image you see -- this is generally either the standard ratio of 4:3 or the widescreen ratio, 16:9. On some FPV goggles, you may be able to change aspect ratios.
Latency is the signal delay between the aircraft and goggles. In normal flight, this is a significant factor -- but low latency is vital for racing.
Head-tracking is a feature included in some high-end FPV goggles. If you have a compatible camera, you can aim it simply by moving your head regardless of whether the drone is moving or stationary. Other goggles provide video recording, so you can play back your flights at home.
Batteries are always required but, frustratingly, are often not provided -- even on the most expensive FPV goggles. Check battery size carefully when ordering, and take note of how they are charged. USB is common, but some batteries will need a separate charger.
Entry-level FPV goggles cost around $50 to $70. While they give you an idea of the world from the point of view of your drone, if you fly on a regular basis you may want to upgrade. Mid-range models cost between $120 and $200. If you want high resolution and rapid feedback for racing, expect to pay a minimum of $300.
Q. Are FPV goggles bad for your eyesight?
A. We were unable to find a qualified medical opinion on this but have found that users we consulted did not suffer any problems. Some report a few seconds of dizziness when they remove their goggles as their eyes re-adapt to normal vision, but it's unclear if there are any cases of long-term harm.
Q. Are FPV goggles easy to use?
A. You are seeing things from a very different perspective, so height and distance take a while to get used to. It's highly recommended that you learn to control your drone using normal line of sight first, before progressing to FPV goggles.
FPV goggles we recommend
Best of the best: Fat Shark HDO Dominator OLED FPV Goggles
Our take: Exceptional viewing experience for the serious drone enthusiast.
What we like: Bright, pin-sharp image without blurring thanks to 960 x 720 screen. Very comfortable. Low latency. Optional diopters for glasses wearers (extra cost).
What we dislike: Some HDMI incompatibilities. Batteries are not included.
Best bang for the buck: Eachine VR-007 Pro FPV Goggles
Our take: Good all-round performance for those on a budget.
What we like: Surprisingly good image considering the 480 x 272 resolution. Nice adjustability for fit with sponge seal for comfort and light reduction. Rechargeable battery (USB provided).
What we dislike: Some durability issues. Suitability for glasses depends on prescription.
Choice 3: FXT Viper V2.0 FPV Goggles
Our take: High quality, high comfort option without the high price.
What we like: Clear 840 x 480 images with built-in video recording (AVI format). Detachable monitor with selectable aspect ratio. Removable sun shade. Excellent for those who wear glasses.
What we dislike: Battery not included. A few head straps come unglued (sewing is a simple solution).
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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