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I longed to take to the skies when I was a kid, defying gravity as I soared through the air like a superhero. And even though I never achieved my dreams in real life, DJI's Goggles Racing Edition comes close.
The Goggles sit over your face like a VR helmet, immersing you in the view from your DJI drone. The set-up is heavy but the headband rests comfortably on your head, taking much of the weight off the display unit that covers your face.
I found the Goggles comfortable to wear, even when I was sweating bucketloads in the hot outdoor sun. The headset comes in two parts, which you snap together to use. Tighten the strap and it'll sit snugly on your head. I had no issues wearing it over my glasses and you can flip it upwards to see the real world. The alignments of the lenses can also be adjusted as well.
Compared with the normal version, the RE model can also store video on a microSD card and has 5.8GHz band support, on top of the 2.4GHz band. It also supports local video playback and you can view panoramic photos, much like a VR headset. A touch panel at the side lets you control what you see onscreen with a flick of your fingers.
Setting up was relatively simple, though that depends on the make of your drone. You can wirelessly link up with the DJI Spark and Mavic Pro, while other models, including the Phantom 4 series, require you to connect the Goggles to the controller with a Micro-USB cable.
I'm a pretty novice drone pilot, but I had everything set up and ready to go within minutes, though it really helps to watch DJI's YouTube tutorials first. You can use the headset's touch panel to launch the drone (or set it to return home), and swiping downwards with two fingers brings up the shortcut menu that lets you activate head-tracking flight or head-tracking gimbal mode.
Those head-tracking modes make it really fun to fly the drone, letting you freely look around while your drone glides after you. It can be disorentating if you spin around too fast, but I soon got used to the feeling. You can access your drone's other flight modes, such as Cinematic and Tripod, from the Goggles as well.
Lag was minimal, though at times it felt like it wasn't tracking my head movements smoothly enough, even though the drone had clear line of sight to me. DJI does have a more powerful wireless add-on module called the DJI Ocusync Air System, which may help improve performance.
With prices starting at $549, £549 or AU$859, the DJI Goggles Racing Edition doesn't come cheap, especially when you also have to buy a compatible drone. But if you're already deep into your hobby, the Goggles are a nifty add-on to help you experience flight without ever leaving the ground.