ATN has brought the traditional spotting scope into the digital age with the new X-Spotter. The rear eyepiece is now a tiny screen and you have a panel of buttons for the several menu selections. Two lithium AA batteries power it for several hours.
The most unique part of the X-Spotter is the Wi-Fi streaming option that allows you to view everything via the ATN Obsidian App. While streaming you aren’t allowed to capture images or video with the scope, but two people can view at once. Or you could even view from a distance. But best of all you can configure and control all the X-Spotter functions with an easy to use menu on your mobile device.
While the X-Spotter does boast of a 20-80x zoom it really is just a 20x optical zoom, with 80x digital cropping. This means you might as well take an image and crop it to size looking at fuzzy pixels. For this reason you will still get better viewing out of a traditional spotting scope with an actual 60-80x zoom.
It was challenging to find targets via the scope because of the lack of alignment aids and long turning focus adjustment. However the X-Spotter has a greater field of view over traditional scopes since you have a 16:9 screen as opposed to a round image of a scope where you lose corners off of your field of view. It is worth noting that it takes approximately 12 seconds for the X-Spotter to boot up until you view anything through it.
The X-Spotter is full of features such as range finding, gyroscope, electric compass, GPS, a library of reticles to choose from, and of course video and photo capabilities. But for the life of me I couldn’t get the compass to read anything besides northwest and west. And when I pulled up the geotagging in my photo program it shows all my images were taken in Algeria, so maybe more in depth configurations are needed. The range finding feature is not to be confused with a range finder yet it proved how sensitive the gyroscope was. To use the range finding feature you need to select the input the height of an object you wish to range, then physically move the scope reticle to the top and bottom of the object and the scope would give you a calculation based on the inputs. This will only be as accurate as your object’s estimated size input and steady hand as you frame the said object. This is roughly the same way we use mil-dot scopes, minus the calculations.
The photos taken by the X-Spotter were smaller resolution than I expected averaging 375kb with 1920×1080 pixels. The reticle, ATN logo and time date stamp were visible on the captured images. The video included audio captured at the spotting scope as well as the watermarks, but seemed a bit more impressive than the captured images. I’m curious how this video would compare to a handheld consumer grade video camera with the same optical zoom capability. All media is recorded onto a user supplied micro SD card.
Finally, the “Night Scope” function is practically useless with the spotting scope itself. I was told by ATN you would need to have an IR illumination device to be able to see at night. I was able to try this with a friend’s military grade PEQ2 however it wasn’t that impressive at night and we could see better at 100 yards with his non magnified PVS14 with as opposed to the 20x scope.
The ATN X-Spotter won’t be replacing traditional spotting scopes yet. But it is unique and a step in that digital direction. But surely there is a niche market that will pay the $1,299 to own the technology features that this scope boasts. You can find out more at https://www.atncorp.com/spotting-scopes