Unless you have been living under a rock, you would of come across the DJI HD system released a couple weeks ago so I will not go into too many details of this. This article is for you if you have already decided you want to take the plunge into digital FPV, but not sure which system to buy, or if you should wait to see what is around the corner. Read on to find out.
TL:DR – Should I wait?
If you have the money set aside already my suggestion is to go ahead and buy the DJI FPV system. I say this mainly because as it stands the DJI system is great. It is a product made by the world leading drone manufacturer and it will only get better as new firmware is released. If you already have a set of HDO, sell them and use that towards the DJI system.
If dont have the money for a Digital HD system, I would suggest you buy a cheap analogue system (you can get a set second hand, or a new set for around £100). Then save up to get a digital system as this is the future.
If you do decide to wait, there is still no definitive release date for the Fatshark (or any other companies) FPV system, so you could be waiting from another 6 months to a year, and that is also assuming the first version of the product is any good. And knowing DJI, in another 6 months to a year they will probably have a micro air module, or a more integrated air module available making the current system better. Everyone we have shown the HD system to have been blown away, check out the video from one of our recent informal meetups.
Should I get the DJI HD system, or wait for Fatshark HD?
Fatshark, Foxeer, Caddx and a few other companies are all working on their own HD FPV system. Fatshark are currently the market leaders when it comes to FPV headsets and many of us FPV pilots have high expectations for their HD system. But till now there is no clear release date, so a lot us are waiting to see what other options there are before committing to the DJI HD system, as £500+ for a new set of goggles is alot of money and is a long term commitment.
Waiting for Fatshark
If you already own a set of HDO goggles and love them (as they are awesome), then you are probably waiting to get a digital system that is compatible, either from Fatshark, or one of the other companies. You may also just be a fan of Fatshark as they are a great company who are known to offer great support even from products that have been discontinued.
The only downside is that we still do not know much about a definite release date or much about the product in general. It is known that they are working with HDzero to make this system and they do seem to have the goods to compete with a claimed latency of 25ms. But the only issue I have is that the HDzero system only supports up to 60fps and the receiver unit is pretty bulky and separate to the goggles.
The nice thing is that it may be slightly easier to mount than the DJI system, and the optional DVR board is also nice to have as if you are using a gopro then you can save some weight and space on your flight stack.
So assuming the Fatshark system is compatible to teh DJI system when it is released, the main question is when. I know DJI are already working on more FPV products so if Fatshark take too long to come to market, DJI will already be close (or maybe would of already) released a new product like a smaller VTX unit or pushed more significant firmware updates.
This leads onto my argument of why there is no point to wait, as the DJI system right now is pretty cool without any massive flaws, and it is only going to get better with the weight of DJI behind it.
Why go for the DJI system now
Apart from the fact that is is actually available to buy, the system as a whole is a very “DJI” like product. What I mean by this is that everything is tightly integrated, particularly if you are also using the DJI remote. Changing channel is done entirely via your goggles, you can start and stop recording via your R/C controller, it has a built in HD DVR that is actually pretty good too. This is a good and bad thing as DJI are known for taking the Apple approach and locking you into their ecosystem so this does have its drawbacks. The main one being that unless you have another set of DJI goggles, no-one can view your FPV feed. So when flying with friends it does get lonely as they cant see that insane gap you just hit in real time and share the excitement with you. You are also locked in to only buying DJI VTX and camera modules (Hopefully the Fatshark system will be more universal like the current generation of analogue FPV systems).
“But if I go for the DJI FPV system how can I fly my toothpicks and tiny whoops?”There is a nice simple mod you can do to use a Analog RX module as described in the link here
If you do need to sell your current fatshark goggles to get the DJI system, there is also a fairly simple hack you can do on the DJI goggles to use a fatshark style RX module to get the best of both worlds. DJI have also confirmed that they will be adding more analog features to the goggle firmware including analog DVR recording.
Does analogue still have a place?
Yes it does because of 2 reasons.
1 – It can be super affordable to get into the hobby. You can grab a budget (but still ok) set of goggles for around £80 and a VTX/Camera for another £30. So thats only about £100 for a decent FPV system. Compared to the cheapest HD system (several hundred)
2 – AV units are still much smaller, making them ideal for tiny drones for now.
The DJI HD FPV system costs too much
It is true you can pick up a budget analog FPV sytem for way less, but lets face it, if you are consdiering a digital system you already are quite invested into this hobby and have alot of money already invested. So it is only fair to compare the best analogue system to the best digital HD FPV system. And when comparing the best of both worlds, you find that they are both actually pretty similar in price.
DJI FPV System Cost
- DJI Goggles ~ £525
- RX built in
- FPV antenna included, but can upgrade to patch for ~£10-30
Total Goggle Price ~ £525
- FPV Camera ~ included with Air Module
- VTX Air Unit Combo ~ £175
- Antenna included
Total Air System Price ~ £175
Total System Price ~ £700
Fatshark FPV System Cost
- Fatshark HDO ~ £435
- RX Module (Rapidfire) ~ £120
- FPV Antenna for Rapidfire RX as not included in box ~£10-£30
Total Goggle Price ~ £565
- FPV Camera ~ £30
- FPV VTX (Unify Pro) ~ £30
- FPV VTX Antenna ~£10-20
Total Air System Price ~ £75
Total System Price ~ £640
Considering the DJI system is a new generation of technology that costs about £60 more, it is actually a reasonable price. But given that it is a £700+ investment all at once does make it hurt. If you are going to go for the DJI FPV system I would suggest that you also get the R/C remote for two reasons: 1 – It is a relay nice remote with a claimed 4Km of range, and 2 – you will not need a separate receiver for each new done built since the air unit includes reciever built in. Remember how I was saying that they take the “Apple approach” to lock you in.. well this is a perfect example because it makes setup and building cheaper and so much easier if you use their remote. So over the long term it is not a bad idea.
So there you have it, right now I say that the DJI system is the way to go until we have a definitive release date for the fatshark system as it is likely to take a while still.
Where to Buy
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments please be sure to start a discussion on our forums linked below.