FPV is short for First Person Viewer. What this means is that you can see what you would see if you were actually in your quadcopter as a pilot.
Well that’s the theory but there is a bit more to it than that of course.
Most of the cameras mounted on or built into most of the various makes and models of drones on the market are fixed. What this means is that you, as the pilot, have your head strapped to your seat so that you can only move your eyes to look around.
While this is much better than only being able to see your quadcopter from the ground as it has all the fun it isn’t quite like really flying.
To get the real benefit of FPV you really need to have at least a 2-axis gimbal mounted camera with head tracking.
With this setup you can look around as you fly just by, well, looking around. Now you will look pretty stupid to any ground based observer but who cares. If you are also streaming the video you are seeing to an external monitor then they’ll be able to see what you see and then they won’t laugh at you.
There are three main ways to play pilot with your quadcopter.
Screen based FPV is when you stream the video to an LCD screen, usually attached to the controller and sometimes using your mobile phone to stream the video. This is good for beginners as they can see what the drone sees and they can quickly switch to line of sight control by just lifting their head.
Goggles block out all the direct visual flying and you will be only staring out the cockpit of your drone as you fly it around. Some of these also your mobile phone as the screen, instead of a dedicated screen, with a special app which provides you something like 3D viewing. This is the mode that most serious drone racers use and they don’t use their mobiles as a substitute screen.
Glasses are the latest in these devices and combine the ability to see as the pilot would but also provide a clear lens like normal glasses so you can see your quadcopter almost as easily as the basic screen based FPV viewer. It’s sort of a heads up display of the pilot view.
All of these can be fitted with head tracking but the screen based one will be the least effective so I really wouldn’t bother with that option. For the other two though this will give you the best full immersion experience that you are probably looking for.