Product News

E-mail Article to a FriendPrint ArticleBookmark and Share

Vapor FPV puts you in the cockpit

By Paul Daniel
Published: June 15, 2015
MOD-PS0615_Vapor3b
Product: First Person View, or FPV, is one of the hottest trends in radio-controlled flying, mostly because the technology has come so far down in price. This technology also now makes video cameras smaller than a golf ball, including the antenna.  
E-flite has partnered with Skyshark to equip its Vapor flier with a small, affordable FPV setup. In the box, buyers will find everything needed, including batteries for the plane, transmitter and Fat Shark Teleporter V4 headset. It’s all ready to go and doesn’t require a Federal Communications Commission license because of the low signal strength from the camera transmitter to the headset.

Performance: A lot has already been written about the Vapor, so I’m going to look at the FPV equipment in more detail. The Fat Shark Teleporter V4 FPV is new. It’s a headset worn like a set of goggles.
The view it delivers is pretty amazing, considering its size. It features a pair of full-color QVGA 320 x 240 LCD displays that receive a wide field of view from the camera onboard the Vapor FPV. The included 5.8GHz SpiroNET circular polarized antenna system reception is good for about 100-150 feet. Adding to the experience that you are in the cockpit is the headset’s two-axis digital head tracking, which senses your head movement. Pretty cool.
I flew the Vapor first without the headset, just to see how the plane flies. It’s slow, almost like it could use more power. It struggles to climb. It needs to be flown in-doors or outside when there is no wind.
Next I flew it with the headset on—something you don’t see being done in any of E-flite’s marketing, which exclusively shows the goggles being worn by a spectator while someone else handles flying duties. I think this is mostly because of potential legal issues. It takes some time to get used to flying FPV, so your first flight should be in a wide area with no obstacles.

Marketing: I love E-flite products and have a bunch of them in my hangar, but this isn’t the company’s strongest offering. I understand the reasons behind its limitations, though. If the plane flew faster and farther, it would quickly get out of the FPV headset’s reception range. If the FPV camera’s transmitter had more power, it would require an FCC license.
Though it was originally priced around $450, E-flite recently lowered it to $329.99. Just more than half of that is the cost of the headset.
It appears to me that the product is hunting for a market. On Amazon.com, it’s selling at list, while on eBay, new ones are going for around $250. On enthusiast sites like ­RCUniverse.com and RCGroups.com, I could find no Vapors for sale. To me, this says that the market is new customers looking for the next cool thing, rather than experienced R/C fliers, so you might want to tailor your sales message to reflect that.
There are still opportunities for upsells, though, such as extra batteries for the Vapor along with items for the headset.

VITAL STATS
Product: FTV Vapor RTF with Headset
Maker: E-flite
Stock number: EFLU6600
MSRP: $329.99
Availability: Horizon Hobby

BOTTOM LINE
• First-person view is cool
• Affordable
• Ready to fly, everything included
• Good for beginners
Related Issues