The team at Drone Mask sent us a Drone Mask 2 to play with. Having a lot of experience with a number of FPV goggles on the market, I was intrigued to see how the FPV experience compares using my DJI Mini 2.
I was sceptical at first, given that the DJI Mini 2 has less field of view than I’m used to with other FPV drones. However, the viewing experience is clear, and the optics provide very little distortion to the image, especially when focussed correctly.
To achieve a viewing experience anywhere similar to dedicated FPV goggles, you would need to shell out for a premium set of FPV goggles, which would be significantly more than the cost of the unit being reviewed here.
That being said, it still has some flaws.
Drone Mask 2 is well constructed and quite lightweight, at least without the phone inside. The mask is also comfortable to wear. The fabric around the eyepiece is soft and does not rub when on your face.
The glass optics are clear and well-finished, with no visible scratches or marks from the manufacturer. The mask has a fabric exterior that keeps light from creeping in around the phone.
A user’s phone is held in by a cradle that is elastically mounted to accommodate a variety of phone widths. However, placement in the cradle can be tricky with some phones if the side buttons aren’t optimally positioned.
The internals of the mask have a nice matt finish. This minimizes any reflections internally from the interior walls of the mask.
The lens is described as a single lens that actually comprises a lens for each eye that join almost seamlessly in the middle. These lenses provide good magnification of the screen with very little distortion at the extremes of vision.
The head strap is well-finished and should withstand regular use. The head strap is also well supported between the three strap pieces, which in turn provides good support to the back of the head.
The strap has plenty of adjustment, and the adjustment piece doesn’t dig into the user’s head, although the top strap does make for a bad hair day after use.
The optics can be adjusted easily for the best magnification and focus. This position can then be locked using a mechanical latch.
However, I found the lens adjustment could still be moved easily when adjusting the mask on your face, even with the mechanical latch locked.
Note: I don’t wear glasses, so I can’t comment on the comfort of the Drone Mask 2 for four-eyed humans 🤓.
Whilst out flying with the drone mask, I didn’t notice too much discomfort. The same could not be said when using the mask to watch 360-degree videos on my phone.
Within about 10 minutes, my nose began to feel quite uncomfortable from the weight of the mask and phone pressing on it.
Some further adjustments may be required there. More padding around the viewing port would also help with this.
Drone Mask 2 has a number of features that extend its capabilities beyond mere use with drones. The optics in the mask make it great for virtual reality and for use as a virtual home cinema.
I have enjoyed using Drone Mask 2 with a number of VR cinema apps. However, the mask does not support VR apps made for Google cardboard-style viewing that has split binocular viewing.
The mask does work well with apps and videos that support 360-degree video in full screen.
The mask also supports use for AR applications, with a removable cover to allow the phone camera to view out of the front of the mask. With AR developments becoming more ubiquitous, this is a good move by Drone Mask.
I note the first Drone Mask appeared to have this feature, but Drone Mask 2 appears to have a much larger window in the mask to allow the multiple large cameras equipped on many newer phones to all capture the environment external to the mask.
As already noted, Drone Mask 2 has clear optics that provide good magnification to the image of the phone screen. The mask also has slots for your hands to access for interacting with the phone when in the mask.
The mask comes with a number of extended cables to connect iOS and Android devices to your drone’s controller when in use in the mask.
Quirks or flaws?
Like many other goggles or mask devices for drones, Drone Mask 2 does have a couple of quirks that could have been addressed in product development.
One of these is light leakage, particularly on a sunny day. I found that light would leak in through small gaps between my head and the viewing port.
This didn’t affect the viewing experience too badly but was a bit distracting from the external light reflecting from the optics.
Providing some padded inserts to help mold the viewing port to fit the user’s head would have been a nice touch. This type of adjustment is becoming more common on other premium drone goggles. Thicker padding would also help to resolve this.
As briefly mentioned, in order to interact with your flying app while in the mask, Drone Mask 2 has some slots in the bottom of the mask to allow your hands to reach in and interact with the phone.
Some fabric covers are provided in these slots to help keep light out when the phone interaction is not needed.
I found that even with my small hands, the slots are quite narrow, and, in combination with the magnifying effect of the lens, I had some difficulty getting my hand into the mask and using my phone whilst it was in the mask.
The slots are also separated by a central portion, meaning that you have to swap hands to interact with each end of the phone screen. It would have been nice to have a single long slot so that you could use one hand to interact with all of the screen.
Accommodating larger phone size
Although phones appear to have approached a neutral size of around 6-inch screen diameter, there are many phones that exceed that size that I feel would not fit into the Drone Mask 2.
I tested this mask with a Samsung S22 (6.1-inch diagonal) and an Oppo Find X2 Lite (6.4-inch diagonal) and found that the Samsung was a good fit. However, whilst the Oppo does fit in the mask, it is on the limit.
This made attaching the cable more difficult and led to some image distortion because parts of the Oppo screen were at the extremes of the lens.
With both phones, I found that the best cable routing was simply between the zips, which isn’t the tidiest cable routing. This works fine, but I would have liked to have seen a dedicated cable port, if only to minimize strain on the cable.
As with many other drone masks and goggles, particularly for FPV drone goggles, there is a lot of extra setup needed before flying with Drone Mask 2 when compared to setting up for flying line of sight.
You have to load your phone into the mask, connect the cable, load the flying app, close the mask and connect it to the drone before even wearing the mask. The mask also takes up a good amount of space in your bag.
Another issue I find with Drone Mask 2, and any other FPV-style goggles for line-of-sight drones, for that matter, is that the field of view of the camera on line-of-sight drones is too narrow.
This reduces your peripheral vision of what’s around the drone, making it difficult to judge objects and distances around you.
For that reason, I actually prefer flying my DJI Mini 2 line of sight than with Drone Mask 2 for the peace of mind that I can see what is around the drone as well as what the drone is seeing.
What is it like to fly with?
The flying experience with Drone Mask 2 is certainly more immersive than flying line of sight with my DJI Mini 2.
However, as noted above, I didn’t enjoy flying with Drone Mask 2 purely for the fact that the field of view on camera drones is too narrow. Maybe that’s because I’ve been spoiled with the field of view of cameras on FPV drones.
However, I would rather fly line of sight to frame my shots and have a visual reference to where the drone is.
If you just want to have the best viewing experience of your drone camera feed, then Drone Mask 2 would be a good tool for you. The optics magnify the phone screen well and make for a stunning viewing experience while flying, albeit without much peripheral vision.
How is it for VR apps and watching videos?
I actually found Drone Mask 2 to provide a really nice viewing experience for VR apps and 360-degree videos. Paired with some good-quality headphones, the overall viewing experience is very akin to being in a cinema.
I just hope more apps support full-screen VR going forward, rather than the Google cardboard split-screen format, which doesn’t really work with the optics of Drone Mask 2. I would like to try some AR apps with Drone Mask 2 as well.
To summarise, Drone Mask 2 is a good example of a mask or goggle for line-of-sight camera drones. The mask is well-made and has some great additional features.
This product is really for drone pilots that want the best viewing experience of their drone’s camera feed while flying and for drone pilots that struggle to see their small phone screen, especially in bright sunlight.
I feel that if you struggle to see your phone screen whilst flying line of sight, then use a tablet or bigger phone and continue to fly line of sight, although Drone Mask 2 most certainly beats those alternatives on price.
As discussed in this article, I feel that Drone Mask 2 has some issues that, if addressed, would make it a better product all around. However, none of them are really deal breakers, and most consumers will likely have a good experience with this product.
Nevertheless, I’ll be sticking to flying FPV with my FPV drones and continue to fly line of sight with my DJI Mini 2 and the like.