The Aomway Commander V1s is a new binocular FPV goggle released by Aomway, a follow up to the very successful V1. Below I look at how these two compare and what the new V1s is like in it's own right.
As much as we spend time looking at our quadcopter builds, it's the goggles that link us visually to a quadcopter (or anything FPV for that matter) and so are commonly the spot where we spend the most. Aomway released the Commander V1 in 2017 and they have been my firm favourite since then and I wrote about my experience in my review.
Many similar looking binocular goggles have been released since then in a similar price bracket but there have been more misses than hits with goggles like the topsky being firmly in the 'miss' column. Even Aomway itself released a version 2 that had a larger field of view and better antennas but unfortunately had poor lenses and a high price tag meaning it never reached the same level of success as the V1. In fact it is no longer available for sale...
In this time the Commander V1 has steadily gone about its business and racked up sales and has many happy customers and so Aomway have updated the V1 to the V1s rather than basing development off the V2
What has changed compared to the V1?
Very little has changed! The Aomway Commander V1s is a very minor upgrade to the V1 and for the purposes of comparison here are the difference of the between the 2 as quoted in an email from Sean @ Aomway:
Not mentioned here is also the fact that the number of channels that can be received has been expanded from 48 to 64, This is not a whole lot of use because the extra 24 channels are largely illegal to transmit on in most countries. There is talk that the received may have also been "improved" but this is not the case. There were also rumours that DVR has been improved to 60fps (which would have been an awesome feature) but this is also not the case. Speaking of case, the case is larger than the V1 - now you can fit the goggles, battery and antennas rather than just the goggle unit themselves
Quite simply if you are looking to upgrade your Aomway Commander V1 to these, don't. These new 'features' are so minor as to say there is no difference at all.
If however you are looking at upgrading from something else or purchasing these as your first pair then read on - even with no real upgrades they are a compelling buy, especially if you can get on discount.
Review of the Aomway Commander V1s
Since they are so similar to the V1 I'll base my review on these since I have been using them several times a week for nearly 2 years and I feel I am in an extremely strong position to be able to talk all the benefits and challenges.
Before you even turn them on the build quality feels solid and 2 years of field testing confirms this too - no breaks from me on any structural or electrical compnent. The original commanders are grey which is a practical colour since they don't heat up in the sun. Although they look nice the new V1s black goggles will heat up more as a result. Strap feels flimsy but works fine - more on this later.
Screens and optics
The Aomway Commander V1s runs 854 x 480 screen resolution 32° field of view (FOV). Image format is 16:9 and IPD adjustment is 59-69mm
Resolution is good considering we are dealing with a PAL or NTSC signal.
FOV is low on paper but in use is a really nice size. Firstly it is very crisp with no blurring at the edges which is typical with practically every binocular screen 35° FOV and up (Commander V2 included). Even after coming from 5" box goggles this screen does not feel small and I like that my eyeballs are not needing to move during flying - I can focus in one area only for flight. Optics by way of screen clarity are good - there is absolutely no edge blurring meaning no matter where you have your OSD located it can be read clearly.
16:9 format can be switched to 4:3 but this does involve cropping so I recommend 16:9. It sounds odd but I actually prefer 16:9 screens with a 4:3 cam with the stretch it provides compared with running 4:3 on a 4:3 screen. Not sure if it's because I'm used to 16:9 screens on my monitor and TV but I certainly don't see this as a downside. There is no screen cropping on 16:9 either meaning you can see your OSD right around the edges.
Diversity Video Receiver
Since we've already covered the receiver differences in the first section (which are minimal) how does it actually perform? Good enough with decent antennas. Included are the Aomway cloverleaf RHCP antenna and a patch antenna. Without mincing words the cloverleaf is a tried and true good robust performance and the patch is simply awful. Do yourself a favour and pick up another cloverleaf mounted perpendicularly if you fly around yourself or a simple patch antenna to partener with the included cloverleaf if you fly in front of yourself. The RealAcc patch antenna I reviewed here some time ago for example is only $8 and makes a noticeable improvement. Now armed with 2 decent antennas the recevier works well - not great but certainly good enough for me. I even fly 1 km out with the right antennas which largely makes my clearview ground station redundant (I must get round to selling it). The built in goggle OSD shows you which antenna (left or right) has the strongest signal but not RSSI numerically.
Ease of use
All goggles have a learning curve especially when they are as well featured as the commanders. Now that I've been using them a while navigation is simple and intuitive but in fairness it did take some time to learn.
Channel/band button will allow you to cycle channels with a quick tap, bands with a medium press and autoscan with a long press. Autoscan works well enough but I'd never rely on this for flight, especially now we know exactly which channel we are on with control via betaflight OSD.
Mode button. Depressing the button will cycle you through inputs (AV/HDMI/RF receiver in 2d and 3d formats) but I've never used them. Day to day I use this for rapid contrast and brightness adjustments: up/down and left/right respectively. This is really useful and fast for when lighting conditions change.
HT/Fan button is really just used to turn the fan on. This runs the fan for 10 minutes to demist and then shuts off. Waaaay better than the Fatshark bodge-job on their fan. The fan works very well even on the hot, humid summer days.
DVR control. Without going into full detail this allows you to turn DVR on (and record) and also gives you playback control. Playback takes a little getting used to but is an invaluable tool to help you find crash locations. Full instructions are here.
Menu system. The menu system is very basic, the best feature is the ability to set the DVR to autostart when power is applied which I ALWAYS use - I otherwise forget to record. Also here is the DVR playback menu and that is really about it.
Otherwise there is an easy to use micro SD card slot, 3.5mm jack for audio (if your VTX transmits audio like the AKK range), AV in/out via a different 3.5mm jack, mini HDMI in, headtracker module input and IPD adjustment.
The DVR unit is the same one that is used for every other set of goggles around. Same resultion, bitrate etc. In use the DVR quality is poor when diversity switches between antennae but good when it locks on to one. Check out my youtube channel. Everything on there is from the Aomway commander DVR.
The standard strap goes around the back of your head as well as over the top. It's comfortable enough but I don't like it because it feels inconvenient and unecessary especially given how light the goggles are. As a cheap replacement I use the $2 ev100 strap as below. It's easy to put on and has been fine as a replacement
The foam works well enough but doesn't last long. I'd recommend getting replacement foam - they are cheap so I always keep a few and replace every 6 months or so. I found the goggles and foam to be comfortable against my face and had no light leakage until the foam wore out.
No battery is included but a very useful 2s/3s/4s to barrel connector plug is. This means you can use any 2s to 4s lipo pack to power the goggles. This can then be attached to the back of the strap or better yet get a barrel connector extension cable like and put a larger pack in your pocket rather than strapped to your head.
We hear a lot about how Fatshark has legendary support even after years of ownership which is great if you live near a service centre. As mentioned above though I've never needed my Commanders to be repaired in the 2 years I've owned them. What few people understand though is that if you have the right contact, Aomway are VERY quick to react and will supply replacement parts at low cost or free of charge. If you need support, contact Sean@Aomway.com
Summary and my recommendation against competitive products
Like any goggle the Aomway Commander V1s is not perfect. The included patch antenna is awful, the strap is awkward, the foam is not very durable and there are not a lot of menu options. The good news is none of these are deal-breakers and they are really good where it counts - Good video signal when the antenna is upgraded, lovely crisp and clear screens, compact design, easy to use features and very importantly, they are durable. After 2 years of using ONLY the Aomway Commander V1, I have not had a single malfunction or damaged part other than replacing the face foam and strap (as a matter or preference). As made painfully clear the new for 2019 V1s is for all intents and purposes the same as the V1 and a return to the formula that has been so popular rather than the V2 which missed the mark a little. The Commander V1s and by extension V1 (which is still for sale at time of writing) are a reliable goggle where you know what you are going to get. Is this enough though in the fast moving world of FPV? Right now the answer is probably yes since nothing groundbreaking has really been launched in this price range although the exact choice probably comes down to feature preference rather than a killer feature. I have noted comparisons to key competitors below:
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