Before the DJI Mavic Pro was available for purchase, DJI teased us with the DJI Goggles. VR gear that can be used as an FPV headset while flying your drone. One of the early intro videos for the Mavic Pro showed the goggles in action, but that was about all we got.
Several months later, DJI made them official. Starting May 20, 2017, your very own set of DJI Goggles can be in the mail for $449. We’ve got our set, and we’re itching to put them to use. Join us for our DJI Goggles review.
We went hands-on with the DJI Goggles back at the NAB Show 2017 in Las Vegas in April. DJI had the headset at their booth the day they were announced to the public. We got to see how they worked with a Mavic Pro, but that was about all.
Our set of DJI Goggles arrived the same day as the launch event for the DJI Spark. As you can imagine, it was one crazy fun week.
The DJI Goggles are a VR headset that, in the words of our Joshua Vergara, “look just like the Sony Playstation VR Headset.” There is some truth to this, and we think that’s a good thing. Primarily, we love that both headsets clamp to your head, allowing the display unit to hang in front of your face. This, instead of clamping to your face directly, adds to the comfort, making it easier to wear the headset longer.
Functionality is the key to the DJI Goggles. FPV goggles, or VR headsets if you will, are fairly common in the drone market. Players like Fat Shark have been key in the racing circuit, and manufacturers like Parrot and Yuneec have their own branded headsets to accompany their drones. These offerings have been, with few exceptions, a one-to-one connection, drone to headset, but DJI has more to offer.
OcuSync is the name of the connection technology DJI uses. It’s a proprietary setup that allows a drone like the Mavic Pro to connect to more than one peripheral, and at great lengths. Specifically, you connect the Mavic Pro to two DJI Goggles, enjoying HD livestreaming video over short distances, or 720p video at a mile or more out.
What you see inside the goggles is as a massive display. A Full HD resolution image is put in front of each eye with a combined experience as a 1080p display. The image is, as I say, massive. DJI says it is like looking at a 216-inch panel at just 3 meters away from you. I can certainly confirm that you must actively move your eyes to see corner to corner, it’s not a stretch, but it’s certainly immersive.
One of our favorite features, the DJI Goggles can be used to control the Mavic Pro. Perhaps not the entire drone, but you can control the gimbal and even turn the craft all with your head movement. Head Tracking allows the camera to point where your head points, but the pilot with remote control still flies the craft.
Finally, after we talk about connecting wirelessly to your Mavic Pro, or to the new Spark, we should mention that there is an HDMI port. That’s right, the DJI Goggles can be used as a monitor for near any video source. We’ve tested with our computers and are just waiting on the connector cable to try out the Chromecast.
Please note, while the DJI Goggles are a great way to experience your drone flight, it is still unlawful in the United States, and now Canada, to fly without direct line-of-sight to your drone. You will want to share the Goggles with a friend or find a trusted spotter to fly legally.
On the materials front, the DJI Goggles are a plastic cased unit with all the tidbits on the inside. The headband has metal strapping that operates the tensioner. Firm, yet pliable memory-type foam surrounds the band, including the forehead tab.
We’ll say again, you strap the DJI Goggles to your head, the band is strong, supportive and quite comfortable, all things considered. The vision unit is removable, connecting to the headband on a hinge. You can tip up the goggles to see the real world, or tilt down to enjoy the experience.
There is a soft rubber lining that surrounds the inner face plate. This lining contacts your face around the edges, enclosing the unit to eliminate light bleed. DJI Goggles are one size fits all, aside from the adjustable headband, so if your face is narrow like mine, there will be some light bleed from the sides. This does not ruin the experience, but you certainly notice it when it’s bright outside.
Embracing different head sizes, the DJI Goggles include an Interpupillary Distance dial. Spin the wheel to bring the focal point narrower or wider as needed. For me, adjusting this did not make a big difference for focus, it simply forced my eyes to focus at different perceived distances. All the way together made me cross my eyes a little, all the way apart made my eyes feel as though I was looking far away.
Each side of the goggles have a small speaker. Five little holes disguise the power of the speakers, they will not fill a room with sound, but since they are pointed at your ears, they are more than loud enough for most needs.
Finally, the user interface is made up two buttons on the bottom of the unit. The Function button and a Back button. The power button is on the side of the unit, and just above that is a multi-touch trackpad. Different swipe functions offer shortcuts to common menus, or use the trackpad and bottom buttons together to manage your settings.
So, how well do the DJI Goggles work? Plainly put, very well! Connected to my Mavic Pro, the video signal proved far more reliable and crisp than the stream to the controller. Granted, I know the control, thus my smartphone, was receiving a 720P stream, but perhaps that is the point, at nearly the same distance to drone, the Goggles received a crisp 1080P video.
The video stream offers low latency. DJI says that I should have received no more than 110ms delay at the range I was operating, and I think that is accurate. 110ms is just enough that I could detect it, if I paid attention.
Initial connection was super simple, at least with the basic setup procedure of one drone to one set of Goggles. Connecting multiple Goggles requires a couple extra button presses. Set up to fly like normal, connecting your drone to the remote and turning on the DJI GO application. Once connected, you are immediately greeted by a full screen stream from your drone. It is a couple swipes on the track pad to enable head tracking mode and off you go.
Connected to an alternative video source, the DJI Goggles act as any other monitor when connected to your computer. Extending your view onto the display, I found that I had to shrink the image size within the headset to effectively use them. Mainly, this was because I wear glasses, and my glasses cover less of my vision area than the Goggles do.
When used as a monitor like this, as I mention, you can shrink the image on the display. The smallest setting looks a lot closer to a 100-inch television at 3-meters. Far more manageable to look at, but still plenty large to operate effectively.
In the end, it was a wonderful experience watching a movie on the DJI Goggles. The screen is effectively larger than the last theater I attended. I don’t have Guardians of the Galaxy 2 here at home, else I would have dove straight in. I have not yet tested if the Goggles can handle 3D content, but I have a test file on a drive somewhere. Let’s assume, based on the documentation, that the DJI Goggles will not properly display a 3D video file, I’ll come back to update if I find otherwise.
Fit and comfort
As for the actual fit, the DJI Goggles sit very nicely. I have a high nose bridge, most VR goggles do not fit me properly, but these do. I credit the fit entirely to the headband supporting all the weight. I tested to see if these goggles would work if I had to strap them directly to my face, they would not, my nose would be in the way.
These are also fairly heavy goggles. Not too bad, mind you, but heavy enough that if you do not wear them properly, you’ll know it. The foam of the headband supports the weight very well, feels very balanced and does not wobble about when you move your head.
The headband is also much less destructive to your hairdo, if that’s a concern, but watch out for the big red depression in your forehead.
Cable management is not a thing while flying wirelessly using the Mavic Pro, and I found the default micro HDMI cable to be slim enough to not be a pain. The cable is not terribly long, don’t expect to hook to your video game console on the other side of the room.
DJI advertises 6 hours of battery life. I must be fair, I am only up to about 3 hours of on-time so far, with mixed use, and I have 44% remaining. I promise I’ll update this paragraph with a couple full battery life tests soon.
Despite what many consider to be best battery practices, I did test and confirmed that you can use the DJI Goggles while they are charging. Just plug in the USB cable and enjoy endlessly. The micro USB port brings in power as well as accept video input from the Phantom 4 series and Inspire 2 drone. In addition, this connection enables similar controls to the drones as you’d find on the Mavic Pro with OcuSync wireless connection.
Flying the Mavic Pro
While flying the Mavic Pro with the DJI Goggles, you can control the camera and many flight modes from the headset. Other than TapFly and basic take-off and landing, you cannot control the flight of the drone, but most all flight modes and camera functions are at your fingertips. We spent a good amount of time using the DJI Goggle as a flight companion for the Mavic Pro. We invite you to check out our findings.
Last thing, we are fans of our big headphones at home here, but, they do not reach over or fit under the headband of the DJI Goggles. We have had to resort to using the built-in speakers or earbuds. We won’t say we’re not disappointed, but it is absolutely understandable, we’re not complaining.
Let’s get all technical on the DJI Goggles. Scroll below for a basic table of specs, but first, let me explain a couple key features.
Video resolution and field of view. I’ve already mentioned that the DJI Goggles offer a 1080p video resolution, what I didn’t mention is that you are receiving that resolution on each of two displays. Each eye receives it’s own 5-inch panel with an 85-degree field of view. The result is one of the most immersive VR experiences around with a total visual resolution of 3840×1080.
I have no specific measure of the display brightness, but I can say that they are bright enough to display anything you need, but not too bright. Extended wear is not uncomfortable.
Overall, the headset weighs nearly 1KG, or 2.2lbs. As I say, that is enough to notice after a short while if you are not wearing the correctly.
Ports on-board include micro USB, HDMI Type-D, 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot.
1920x1080 resolution each
3840x1080 effective resolution
85° field of view each
Transmission distance controlled by aircraft: 4.3 miles with the Mavic Pro
|Video downlink||Max 1080p 30fps
110ms latency with Mavic Pro on 720p resolution
150ms latency with Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced
167ms latency with Phantom 4
140ms latency with Inspire 2 using X5S camera
190ms latency with Inspire 2 using X4s camera
|Interface||Funtion button, back button
Multi-touch track pad
Power button / battery life
Final thoughts on the DJI Goggles
We have only had the DJI Goggles for a few short days now, we have plenty left to experience, but our first impressions were enough for this review for sure. We don’t really offer a score or anything, so, let’s give the DJI Goggles a whopping seven and a half out of seven and a half thumbs up. Don’t ask about the half thumb.
We still want to test high speed flight, but we do not think the DJI Goggles a great fit for professional drone racing pilots. The image is a little too large to consume at those speeds and the latency is good, but 110ms can be the difference between winning a race and crashing into a concrete pillar at 80 mph.
Connectivity and functionality for flying your Mavic Pro is superb. The DJI Goggles were made for this drone, and it shows. Consuming media from your connected PC is also a smooth and enjoyable experience.
With a price tag of $449.00, the DJI Goggles are not for everyone. However, they cost less than many top-end goggles on the market and are just as easy, if not easier to connect to and use. DJI Goggles are available now for order and come in white. There is evidence of a black colored model coming, but we have no word on when that may be.
Whether looking for a solid VR headset to act as a FPV screen for your drone, or looking for a personal monitor to connect to your PC or other HDMI media device, the DJI Goggles will serve you well.
What do you think of the DJI Goggles so far? Be sure to hit us up with any questions in the comments below. we’ll try to answer them here or in a future article on the goggles.