The Aomway Commander V1 has been hailed as one of the best mid-range goggles available today. Among tough competition from new releases of Skyzone and Fat Shark, Aomway has released an update—and the Commander V2 takes aim a little higher up the ladder.
Because of a revision with the original Aomway Commander goggles, some people incorrectly refer to the final release of the Commander V1 as the Commander V2. This article is for the official Aomway Commander V2 product, which can be easily identified in photos by its dark gray case color.
Features and Specs
- 800×600px SVGA displays (4:3) with 45° FOV
- Diopter insert slots
- 5.8GHz 64-channel diversity receiver with Raceband
- SMA connectors
- Power input: 7–18V (2–4S)
- IPD adjustment 59–72mm
- Supported input: Analog RF or AV-in, NTSC/PAL; Analog 3D side-by-side; HDMI up to 720P; HDMI 3D side-by-side
- Built-in DVR (from RF or AV-in) with microSD card slot for storage up to 32GB
- Anti-fog fan
Included in the package are the goggles (with the head straps and thin face foam installed), two antennas (a cloverleaf and a patch), an analog AV cable, a power input filter/cable, thicker face foam, a manual, and a sticker sheet. You’ll need to supply your own battery, but the 2–4S input range gives you a decent array of choices and just about anything you already use to power another set of goggles will work here.
There’s a manual which details the functions of the goggles. It’s nice to have and can explain the non-obvious parts of using the goggles’ various buttons and joysticks. There’s useful information that would be hard to know otherwise, like the 10-second wait time after powering off and specifics for the low-voltage warnings. It’s not completely comprehensive—for example, details on what the individual OSD settings actually do are missing.
Changes and Upgrades
There are quite a few upgrades from Aomway’s earlier release. Here are the updates that were made for the Commander V2:
- FOV is increased from 32° to 45°
- Maximum IPD is increased from 69mm to 72mm
- Display resolution is increased from 854×480 (16:9 aspect) to 800×600 (4:3 aspect)
- The receiver is increased from 40-channel to 64-channel, adding mostly bands you shouldn’t use.
- Instead of only choosing built-in head tracking (or not) at time of purchase, this area is now modular
- Most settings can be adjusted via an OSD
- An idle alarm sounds the buzzer when the goggles haven’t been touched for a while
- You can switch the RF mode between on, off, left-only, and right-only
- Included foam options are thinner: 13 and 15mm on the V1; 10 and 13mm on the V2
- The V2 is a bit heavier at 198g instead of 172g: barely enough to notice the difference.
Aomway also claims that HD input now supports 1080P. This simply wasn’t true—but we doubt anyone will miss it.
Build and Fit
The ergonomics are pretty good. I found them comfortable and I expect I could wear them for a long time. Editor James, a long time Fat Shark user, had an issue with the plastic rubbing against his face with either types of foam. For this reason, he feels they are less comfortable than Fat Shark goggles, but still fine for long term use.
They are a little heavier than the V1, but at under 200g this shouldn’t be an issue. I don’t experience eye strain like I do with box-style viewers. The faceplate has a wide curve to it and I have a smaller head, so I do get light leak at the edges. With the V1, a thick foam option solved this for me. Here, only two thinner foam options are provided and neither completely block it out. While not perfect, it’s good enough that I’m not distracted unless the sun is coming in from an especially poor angle.
Aomway retains the battery holding method from the V1; an elastic/Velcro strap at the back of the head connected by the power adapter. In my opinion, this is superior to the Fat Shark style of a split elastic band to one side. Aomway’s method supports a wider array of batteries and I have far fewer issues with the battery falling out. This also helps keep the weight balanced on my head instead of feeling front-heavy and pulling my neck downward like most larger box-style goggles. The V2 also retains the over-the-head center strap. I’ve found this design to be one more thing I have to set up and position before I fly, but it helps keep the sweet spot of the optics in the right place on my face for the entire flight. The connection at the back is now a metal clip instead of directly sewn into the back pad—so on the V2 this third strap is now removable if you don’t like it.
One of the most disappointing parts of the V1 were the flimsy 4-directional joysticks that fell off. The V2 appears to use similar sticks, but I haven’t had an issue with them coming off. A small recess for each stick in the case design may contribute to the improvement here; they’re harder to pry upward by accident. Both sticks feel good, which is another improvement over my V1 unit (where one has a stiff actuator). I noticed a different quality problem—there’s a piece of dirt inside the right screen module. It won’t wipe off; a full disassembly would be required to remove it. The inside edge of the IPD range isn’t fully usable for both screens at the same time, either. Internally, there isn’t quite enough room for the ribbon cables that feed the screen modules, so the screens can’t both be pushed completely inward at once. The IPD adjustment itself is pretty rough, which is common to most FPV goggles. It feels very flimsy. We hope manufacturers can do better with this in the future.
Aomway has switched to the 4:3 aspect ratio with the V2. Whether it’s better boils down to personal preference, but I prefer 4:3. You generally have a choice with the aspect ratio of a camera on a larger quad, but 4:3 is the industry default. There aren’t many micro builds with 16:9 camera options at all. The goggles are switchable to (letterboxed) 16:9, so both types are usable without stretching the picture. These goggles remember the display mode you’ve selected after you power them off, a nice improvement over the V1.
3D support is still limited to side-by-side video feeds. The goggles don’t understand HDMI 3D formats, they just stretch the picture across both displays, no matter what that picture is.
Head tracking is available on the V2 as an optional module. This means you don’t need to choose whether or not you want tracking when you buy, but can add it later on. Opening up the side compartment where this gets installed is perhaps a little too easy. Practically speaking, you’d only ever need to open it once, but it’s a simple clip that pops open with a little pressure. Inside is a ribbon cable to attach to your HT module. There are a few different tracking modes switchable within the OSD with names like “XP YN”. None of these modes are documented.
There’s nothing groundbreaking in band/channel switching. Long press to increment band, short press to increment channel. I actually would prefer they kept the 40-channel receiver instead of upgrading to this 64-channel, because the extra channels are mostly bands you shouldn’t use and it now takes longer to get to the more useful options. You do have the alternate option of changing the band and channel via OSD. It’s a wash whether this is any faster because entering the OSD takes an extra-long hold time on the button. We really wished they would have fixed the channel selection labeling. Like the V1, it doesn’t follow the de-facto industry standard. Bands A through E follow the original Commanders. With the added bands that don’t have as much industry agreement, it’s like playing a game of hide-and-seek to find some of the more obscure frequencies.
Channel search is a pleasant upgrade. It’s fairly fast, scanning all 64 channels in about 8 seconds. The search guessed my channel right, which was a nice surprise. I absolutely recommend knowing and setting your channel manually when you fly, but the quick scan improves the ability of this goggle to be used as a spectator set. Unfortunately, the scan covers the whole band each time and picks only the strongest channel, so if there are multiple pilots you are trying to flip between, you will still need to change manually.
The antenna switch notification and DVR recording notification are equally as intrusive on the V2 as the V1; they are both larger than necessary. Because the screen is larger, though, they do end up a little further from the center of view. That makes them a little easier to bear.
One unpublished upgrade I found was the anti-fog fan. It’s capable of moving more air than that on the V1. In order to do this, it does make a little more noise. I don’t mind the low noise level at all; it lets me know the fan is working but didn’t become a distraction. It seems to be less effective overall than Fat Shark goggles but unlike Fat Shark models, though, it runs off of the main battery and does not cause uneven battery wear.
There’s also the ability to adjust the volume of the sound output, through the OSD. It’s a welcome addition, removing the need to buy an inline volume control for your headphones. Since the OSD takes several seconds to get into, this won’t be something you adjust quickly.
Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, the screens in the Commander V2 are actually really good. They are sharp, have great contrast, resolve details well, and have great color rendition and smooth tonality across the various luminosity levels. In every way, they are superior to the screens in the V1. Even the digital brightness/contrast adjustments appear improved, and of course there’s the significant difference in screen size. Aomway has chosen a large field of view, which makes flying much more immersive.
It’s a huge letdown that these great screens are paired with awful optics. They cause much of the screens to be out of focus most of the time. (This is why you may have heard about the screens not being great—it’s actually the optics that are the problem.) The V1 had this issue to a lesser degree, but it’s far more pronounced on the V2. Switching display modes doesn’t minimize the problem, either, as it mostly affects the horizontal axis and the 16:9 mode now letterboxes vertically. For most people to really enjoy using these goggles, a better optic that produces clean edges should have been used. It’s tough to overstate how much of a disappointment this is. James had an issue using the goggles for more than a few minutes due to eyestrain caused by this issue, to give perspective.
Receiver and Antenna Performance
Aomway chose not to publish a receiver sensitivity rating. This is just as well, since the number is more or less meaningless in practice. As for its performance, I found it to be pretty good in testing. It’s not going to match the newer high-end modules like Clearview and RapidFIRE, but it’s on par or better than anything in the low or mid range. That makes them perfectly functional in most situations. I wasn’t too impressed with the diversity switching. The picture drops out quite badly before the Commander V2 decides to change antennas. Aomway should have retained the V1’s far more responsive algorithm here. Also in the V2 are two settings for diversity, “FPV Race” and “LongRange”. These aren’t documented, and I didn’t notice better switching with either setting.
The included patch antenna is Aomway’s ANT015. This is listed as a circularly polarized (RHCP) patch with a gain of 8dbi. Though the compact size is a big improvement, I didn’t find the performance to be any better than the older ANT007B—which is itself not particularly good. It’s usable, but our recommendation is to invest in quality antennas. The second antenna, Aomway’s older but omnipresent RHCP cloverleaf, is still pretty good. I don’t mind having another one around at all.
HD Performance and DVR
Using the googles with an HDMI cable was a similar experience to the Commander V1s in a lot of ways. Even though the specs state that it has 1080 input now, the EDID reports only 1280×720 is supported. The HD mode uses the full display—which is annoying because it’s stretching a 16:9 input to fit a 4:3 display. The brightness needs turned down when using HD input, so switching back and forth between flying and using the goggles on a sim is a little annoying. You have to use the OSD menu to change inputs, further lengthening the process of switching back and forth. On the positive side, the OSD setting for volume works on sound coming in through HDMI just as it does for analog.
The DVR also appears to be the same unit as in the V1, which isn’t a bad thing. It auto-selects NTSC vs. PAL for input sources and has pretty reasonable quality. Automatic file save when you power the goggles off is still present and functional. Playback controls aren’t strictly intuitive, but they’re usable. There’s nothing here of any special note, but there’s also nothing to complain about.
If you want more details on these two areas, check out our Commander V1 review. We dive a little deeper into specifics that apply to the V2 as well.
Aomway obviously wants to be competing at the highest level with the Commander V2 instead of being in the mid-range market as it was with the V1. This is a tough thing to do, but they’ve chosen to get there not by adding fancy new features (see: Skyzone SKY03) but instead incrementally working on the features they already have and making a huge screen upgrade. There are a lot of nice touches like saving the last used video mode, making the over-the-head strap removable, improved fan, better channel search, and added volume control. There’s also a really nice improvement in the screen quality, boasting larger size, better color saturation, and better detail level resolution. All of these improve the usability of this set over the V1.
But there are a few areas where these Aomways really let us down. Far and away, the optics are the number one problem. You get less than half of it in focus at once; that’s just not enough to use comfortably. Second, the diversity switching algorithm falls short of expectations. It takes a few seconds for the goggles to switch—in the middle of a race or difficult freestyle maneuver, you don’t have a few seconds to wait. Third, if you have a small face and need the minimum IPD, you’ll have trouble getting the screens lined up right. This brings us to the last big knock against them; price. Currently, they retail for about $440. For that amount, you can get a pretty nice set of last-generation Fat Sharks. The original Commander V1 still occupies a solid place in the market as well. At just over $300, you get nearly all the best of what the V2 has to offer.
Before you move along, we’re experimenting with making the V2s more usable. We’ve got a good lead on fixing the optical issues and the minimum IPD problem. Check back with us soon for another post on this.
The AOMWAY Commander V2 video goggles can be purchased at Gearbest and many other retailers.