Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Hands on with Fanvision's portable F1 interface (Part 1) - A review of the mobile device that gives fans more information at the track

Published by Amy Fulton

Since the unveiling of FanVision's brand new handheld device, we've been keen to get our hands on one. Even more keen than us though, was F1 uber-fan Amy Fulton, who purchased the equipment and took it for an extreme road test encompassing the opening two Grand Prix of the season. Find out what she made of the latest in digital accessories.

Kangaroo courted

Jonathan Noble wrote in this article that the FanVision G3 is quickly becoming a must have device in the F1 paddock and after spending two races with it, I can confirm it’s a must have device in the stands as well. Apologies in advance for the poor quality photos, it’s hard to take a photo of a screen with a camera.

As a long time fan of the Kangaroo TV device I was overjoyed when they announced they were rebranding as FanVision Entertainment LLC and that the G3 would be available to purchase and keep. Not only is it a much slicker looking device, it would mean avoiding the sometimes arduous trek to find where the devices are hiding (hello Monza), as well as the monstrous queues (hello Singapore) to return it after the race when all you really want to do is go driver spotting outside the paddock.

The device isn’t cheap – including shipping it came to $361 AUD for me, which Google tells me is £233 GBP. When I purchased mine I was intending to be at three races this year and at a hire cost of $100 AUD per race I was more than willing to pay the extra $60 AUD to avoid the queues and have the newest model of FanVision. Now that I’m going to Korea as well, the G3 has now become cheaper for me to own than hiring the old model each time. There was a delay in getting the software available for Australia so rather than ship the G3 to me, I picked it up at Albert Park. FanVision are going to refund the shipping cost but writing this has reminded me that hasn’t happened yet. I must follow that up!

Inside you will find the FanVision, a strap to wear it around your neck, earbuds, a USB cable and a wall charger with various attachments

The G3 comes in a box that looks like this and inside you will find the FanVision, a strap to wear it around your neck, earbuds, a USB cable and a wall charger with various attachments so it can be charged regardless of the socket type in whichever country you happen to be. The old hireable devices came with a fabric bag to keep the various parts in, as well as a spare battery but the G3 doesn’t include these so when I got home I threw the plugs into a glamorous sandwich bag. The lack of spare battery is no big deal to me – the charge is more than enough for 3 hours of practice on a Friday, which is the most F1 action you’ll see on one day. The battery panel is removable but the lithium ion cell battery that lives inside it is branded Kangaroo TV and doesn’t look like something you could pick up a spare of down at the hardware store. Pamela, who also bought a G3, went and bought a screen protector for hers but I’ve never bothered with those for any of my gadgets. It did help us tell our G3s apart though when they end up charging on the same table in Malaysia.

A fuller F1 flavour

The first thing you notice upon picking up the G3 is just how light it is. The old Kangaroo TV was quite a solid device so I almost hit myself in the face with the G3 when it was a lot lighter than I expected. The next thing you notice is just how long it takes to turn on – mine takes about 105 seconds which I’m now used to but the wait almost killed me the first time when all I wanted to do was play with it! The G3 will then ask if you’d like to configure your FanVision handset for the “Full F1 Experience.” This is my first minor complaint with the device – it takes you through these settings every time you turn it on. I wish it had some way of remembering my preferences because even though it only takes a couple of seconds, I select the same thing every single time! Straight away you notice a difference from the old model – previously you could only select one favourite driver to get updates on but with the G3 you can select three. I only ever select Kovalainen but I noticed that Pamela, who has a favourite driver as well as a favourite team, had Heidfeld, Petrov and Alonso selected.

The main video screen looks like this (Picture 1) and if you press the OK button the video disappears and the statistics become full screen (Picture 2).

Picture 1 - main video screen
Picture 1 - main video screenCredit: Amy Fulton
Picture 2 - statistics full screen
Picture 2 - statistics full screenCredit: Amy Fulton

My favourite is this fantastic timing screen which I took a photo of during qualifying. With gaps, intervals, sector times, current lap time and best lap time, plus the best overall sector times and lap time what more could you need?

Well, you might need to know who is being knocked out of Q1 and Q2. FanVision makes this easy to see by highlighting the bottom seven in each session in yellow (Picture 3). Perfect!

Picture 3 - highlighted drop zone
Picture 3 - highlighted drop zoneCredit: Amy Fulton

The other Lotus driver

If you can’t chose which video to watch there is also a quad screen option which shows the main video feed as well as three onboard cameras (Picture 4).

Picture 4 - main feed, plus onboard cameras
Picture 4 - main feed, plus onboard camerasCredit: Amy Fulton

At this stage there is no way to make the video full screen but after tweeting to say that I wished I could do it the people at FanVision were quick to reply to let me know that this feature would be available in the next software update. That explains the USB cable that it comes with, awesome!

I was really impressed with their customer service all weekend. I kept tweeting them about minor issues I had noticed, all Team Lotus related of course, such as Kovalainen being unavailable to select during FP2 in Australia as Chandhok was still showing up as the other Lotus driver, and that in Malaysia the onboard videos for Kovalainen and Trulli were around the wrong way. They not only were quick to fix the issues once they were reported, they were nice enough to reply to thank me for pointing them out. It’s always nice to know your feedback has been received.

All content in the series Amy's FanVision G3 Review