By Jon Kelly
Vancouver, BC – Industry sources stated on July 10, 2015, how the Pulsar Recon X870 digital night vision monocular is now available in limited quantities for North American buyers. A product review published to the UFONV.com website on October 5, 2014, offered an exclusive first look at current advances in prosumer digital night vision monocular technology. In an exploratory overview, online night vision educational community member Darksatellite cited the Pulsar Recon X870 as “the monocular of choice” that sets an “incredibly high bar” for portable digital night vision performance.
Users familiar with Pulsar X-series devices will remember the now-discontinued Recon X550 as a premium monocular with greater than 50 lpm resolution and 0.0001 Lux sensitivity that met or exceeded real-world performance thresholds of tube-based night vision equipment under a variety of outdoors conditions. The new Recon X870 incorporates a number of design innovations including an OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display and push-button 2x digital magnification while retaining the same form factor and overall build quality.
The following review authored by Darksatellite for UFONV.com provides insight into one user’s first-hand experience working with this instrument under UFO skywatching conditions at home and in the field. Pulsar is a registered trade mark of Yukon Advanced Optics Worldwide.
1. Build quality is very nice; light, compact and sturdy – all the things that you’d expect from a Recon. That said, the plastic retainer for the battery box has made an unwelcome return. It’s good to see that Pulsar have included a charge jack on the camera as well, which means that I can use my old Yukon charger and leave the X870 running over night. Lens cover is the open-hole type.
2. Button Lay-out – this is very nicely realized, and the interface is easy to navigate at night. Pulsar have included buttons for on/off, 2x digital zoom (to supplement the 5.5x optical), IR, and Sum Light functionality – the whiz-wheel for Gain control remains unchanged, as does the low-slung position for AV-out.
3. Functionality – the X870 features a number of display icons which reflect the status of the device at the foot of the viewing screen. These capture the status of the battery, the IR level (3x settings) and whether the digital zoom and Sum Light features are enabled. The Gain level is represented by a 0-20 value in the upper-right of the screen. Overall, this interface is well thought out, simple to understand and quick to execute in the field.
4. Use Case 1: A hand-held NV monocular – I must say that I’ve been amazed by the performance of the X870 when used as a hand-held device. The sensitivity of the device and quality of the image presented by the internal 640 x 480 OLED display is simply fantastic – the contrast between the stars / moving objects and night sky is stunning, and the combination of available controls (Zoom, Gain, Sum Light and IR) provides a very strong sense of “if it’s there, you have the toolset to find it.” The X870 is by far the best monocular that I’ve used as a hand-held and really sets an incredibly high bar.
5. Use Case 2: A NV monocular for data streaming – For me this is where the device falls a little short. To begin with, I’ve found it very difficult to consistently focus the device – either the near stars are in focus and distant stars aren’t, or the distant stars are in focus and the near stars aren’t. In either case, you seem to end up with some degree of distortion or light ‘blooming” across the focal range. This seems to be compounded when you locate an ‘unknown’ and find yourself trying to track and refocus the objective lens at the same time.
The second issue relates to the amount of information pushed from the device via the AV-out. Sadly, the nicely presented icons available on the internal screen do not make it across to the capture device, but more importantly neither do any changes made to zoom, gain (and I think, but need to check) IR settings. Sum Light is the only capability that translates across to the AV signal.
6. Summary: So overall, I think that the X870 is a superb device, and certainly the monocular of choice for taking to the field for hand-held use. For streaming footage to a capture device, it’s fine but does require fine tuning and an acceptance that some key functionality is lost through the AV-out port.
Disclaimer: NewsInsideOut.com’s Jon Kelly is an authorized Sellmark distributor for Pulsar and other leading night vision optics brands. Readers can write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free quotation for this and many other UFO skywatch-enhancing products.