Product Review: XEye E3 Max
I've now had this E3 Max for around 8 months. It was my first thermal spotter and it's been a real game-changer. It has changed my shooting experience immensely, so much so that I now don't go shooting without it.
The XEye range comprises of a number of handheld thermal spotters and rifle scopes. Prices range from £900-£3800. The E3 Max is mid-range and comes with a lot more functions than the E3 N and E3 N+. The max has a vox 17-pixel sensor, a detection resolution of 384x288 and a 35mm lens. The sole UK distributor is Optical Solutions UK.
I’ll now move onto the important stuff: How does it perform in the field? How good is the image? Is it easy to use and ultimately is it worth the £1900 price tag?
The unit comes in a plain bland box, there’s no fancy packaging or literature. Inside there’s a small bag with start-up instructions and a video/charging cable. More detailed instructions can be found on the Xinfared website.
The E3 Max comes in a rubberised finish and is ergonomically designed which makes it easy to handle in the field. The unit feels good in the hand and after a bit of time, your fingers find the correct buttons with ease. The unit is small enough to fit into a top jacket pocket and is quite light. The controls themselves couldn’t be simpler. Power on/off/standby, six levels of brightness, a zoom function (with a base mag of x2 and a further x4 available), a video/camera share button.
I have fitted a small DSLR camera mount to the underside heat-sync and tripod mounting point. To this, I attached a lanyard. My biggest gripe with the unit is the flat thin rubber lens cap. This is a pain to re-fit and it kept coming away from the lens. My solution is that I paid a few pounds for a vortex bino lens cover. I cut the original off and replaced it. It’s 100% better, I have fed this back to the UK distributor for future units.
The important stuff, image. This is right up there for a thermal spotter in that price range. I’ve compared the E3 Max with some of the other units made by similar manufacturers and I'm yet to see anything better in that price bracket. The menu system is basic and user-friendly, with no complicated actions. The unit has five colour pallets. I prefer to use black hot whilst scanning and white hot for closer detailing. There’s a bird function; I’m not sure why this is there as it’s really similar to white hot. The zoom on the base mag image is great, however, this will pixelate the more you increase the magnification. This is one of the issues with most thermal equipment unless you have the funds for a 12-pixel 640 unit. Detection and ID are well up there - the E3 Max competes against even some of the higher-priced units on the market. I’ve picked up heat sources at great distances. At normal night shooting distances, the image tones, clarity and sharpness are spot on. FOV in my opinion is just right.
The unit has a built-in battery and lasts between 4-6hrs. Charging is via the USB cable and this can be plugged into any normal car socket point. It’s also possible to connect a mobile battery pack. I've been assured by Optical Solutions UK that the battery is capable of being changed out if needed in the unlikely event of the battery malfunctioning. The unit has a pip function giving you a higher magnification setting. The screen is very clear to the eye.
The E3 Max has built-in WiFi and storage which connects to an app simply. In regards to the app, this is basic and simple to use. Another great function R.e. the WiFi is that your shooting buddies can attach phones or tablets. This enables multiple people to see what the main user sees live. I suspect that the manufacturers I-Ray have concentrated more on the sensor than they have on the packaging, marketing and the app, and in my opinion this is the best way to go.
The E3 Max has a great feature of having a laser pointer. This is handy when your friend can't see what you’re looking at. Activate the pointer and they’ll have an idea where to look; very useful.
Back up and warranty are a major factor in deciding which manufacturer to go with. The I-Ray and Xinfared products are distributed by Optical Solutions UK. The owner Cliff Ray is so confident with the product he offers a three-year warranty. Cliff is a fountain of knowledge and is more than happy to remedy any issues or concerns.
If you like posting your footage with a unit that has lots of functions, the E3 Max is the one to go for. For me, the image clarity and sharpness was my priority, the E3 Max provides this and at a great price point.
Guys, this is my honest opinion on the unit, however the best way is always to try before you buy.