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Losing grip – What we didn’t see in 2021

By tradition, the time to reminisce about significant events of the year that has passed is after Christmas, but before the New Year, right? Keeping to that tradition I will not write anything about what we’ve seen released during 2021 today, but rather offer a comment on a couple of things that we have not seen.

First, solid proof that Elvis is still alive. Since he was born in 1935, this is quickly becoming more and more unlikely, but for another dosen of years or so, there’s still a chance he’s out there.

Second, we (still) did not see a big breakthrough for First Person View (FPV) surface vehicles. This is way more interesting than the Elvis case. Not to mention more relevant for this column. In 2017 Dromida released their 1/18 FPV Monster Truck and we did “the most important review we’ve ever written. You see, FPV is the future, that is a fact.” In 2018 ECX released the 1/24 Barrage UV 4WD crawler “with the hottest accessory on the market: a front mounted FPV camera”. In 2019 Team Associated released an FPV system complete with camera and headset, the XP DSV, that could be installed in any car. In 2020 we saw Nintendo release the Mario Kart LIVE Home Circuit for the Nintendo Switch.

All of these were awesome releases in their own right, but in 2021? No significant news on the FPV segment. I know this particular lack of news is old news, it’s now clear that surface FPV never took off, but not until now have the slow mechanical workings of my brain processed this and reached some conclusions.

Since I haven’t written about FPV before, I can’t say that I called its demise, but I can say that I do not lament it. Am I surprised? Not really, but that’s also easy to claim in hindsight. Either way, FPV never interested me. Quite the opposite, I am very glad that the RC surface hobby hasn’t taken off in this direction.

So then, why didn’t it?

First, I think one of the keys to this can be found in our very own review of the Dromida FPV. The very important one mentioned above. We write that “driving FPV is totally awesome! […] it is, by far, the most immersive truck on the hobby grade market to drive”.

Awesome, immersive – what’s the problem, what’s the catch? Well, it’s right there: immersion. I don’t want to be immersed. I don’t want to be completely lost in the driving experience. Were I completely immersed, I would be pretty boring to hang out with. I want my main focus to be on having fun with those around me, not on the actual driving. Sure, there are lines that demand my full attention, but those lines are best experienced with someone standing next to me, cheering and giving advice.

Second, should I want a truly immersive driving experience, I could get that playing Gran Turismo Sport with a VR headset. All in the comfort of my own home, in my favourite chair, with no need to charge LiPo batteries, and no risk of mechanical failure. I fail to see what an RC FPV car would add to this?

And should I want to be completely immersed in RC driving, I would get into competing. That, I imagine, can be an incredibly immersive experience, demanding deep concentration and total focus. Also coming with mechanical challenges, which I happen to enjoy, but can’t get from a video game.

FPV drones, planes and other airborne contraptions is a different story. In those cases, FPV would give me a view I couldn’t get otherwise. I could skim just above the water, climb over the treetops, circle my own house fifteen feet above the ground. That would be novel, it could be fun. A rabbit’s eye view of the nearby trails? Not so much.

In the end, I don’t want immersion, I want fun!


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Posted by in Columns, Loosing Grip on Tuesday, December 28th, 2021 at 10:54 am