It is a new member of the Mars series of wireless video transmission systems.
Mars X is designed to be a more cost-effective entry-level wireless video system than Mars 400 and Mars 400S
The whole concept behind Mars X is to provide an affordable, easy-to-use wireless monitoring solution that does not require RX units or monitors.
Unlike the existing Mars series, Mars X is only an HDMI video transmitter designed for iOS and Android devices.
It allows you to use up to three iOS or Android devices at the same time to monitor images from any camera that can output signals via HDMI.
Being able to view images on a tablet or smartphone is an excellent choice for using TX and RX units and additional displays. This is a very fast, economical and easy way to provide customers, producers or directors, hair dyers, and even hair and makeup artists with a way to view what the camera is shooting.
Whenever I do company shooting, I tend to use Teradek Serv Pro (because my main camera does not have HDMI output). This way, multiple people can see what you are doing on their devices. Customers will have a certain degree of comfort and familiarity when they can view images on a tablet or mobile phone.
Sending a wireless video signal so that multiple people can view it on a dedicated application at once is nothing new. Teradek has been doing this for many years. Recently, we have seen very cost-effective systems from companies such as Vaxis and Zhiyun.
For reasonably priced wireless TX devices, the manufacturing process of Mars X is quite reasonable, especially for products that cost less than $200.
It is not made of plastic. Instead, the housing is made of aluminum.
I don't have any concerns about the quality of the build, I think Holland has done a good job on Mars X.
The weight of Mars X is 112 grams (3.95 ounces). After folding the antenna, its physical size is 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.71 inches / 5 x 5 x 1.8 cm.
Such a small size and weight does mean that it is very suitable for smaller mirrorless and DSLR cameras.
The contents of the box are like this:
Mars X is very basic. It has a very small OLED screen, and there is only one button to turn on/off the TX. Use the same button to change the channel.
The OLED display shows battery status, channel, video format and Wi-Fi password.
Mars X has two foldable antennas. The two antennas move independently of each other. When the device is not in use, you can fold the antennas back to the body of the Mars X.
This is a good design, it can ensure that when you are not using the antenna, you can also ensure the safety of the antenna and minimize its footprint.
Hollyland includes multiple 1/4 20" mounting holes on Mars X. One on the back and one on the bottom.
Hollyland’s box includes a cold shoe mount for a 1/4"-20 adapter. This is how most people might install Mars X, especially those who use mirrorless or DSLR cameras.
no. The Hollyland app does not support video streaming.
All you need to do is to connect the Mars X Wi-Fi on your tablet or phone and enter the password. Then, you open the HollyView App, where you can monitor the image from the camera.
There are a series of monitoring tools in the application. These include:
For more information on how all these work and how they perform, please see this review.
Mars X has a built-in 1 hour 1300 mAh battery that can be charged through the USB Type-C port and supports 5-12V wide voltage charging.
The battery takes approximately 2.5 hours to charge through the USB Type-C port.
For me, the fatal weakness of this product is the running time of the built-in battery. The built-in battery can only last for 1 hour, which is almost meaningless. In fact, to use this product, you need to connect it to an external USB power source. For me, this defeats the purpose of having a small and compact wireless TX.
I had hoped that Mars X had a built-in battery board.
Mars X does not use any type of fan, so it can run completely silently. The problem I did find is that if you use it for a long time under the scorching sun, it does overheat.
Wireless video transmission system is a vital part of many professional works. They allow everyone, from the director to the producer, to focus on the lever, the gaffer, and even the hair and makeup, to see what is happening.
Mars X is not intended for such use. Its target market is the low-end market, where people want to be able to transmit wireless video over a short distance and be able to watch the material on an off-the-shelf smart phone or tablet.
Mars X can transmit the following information:
You can shoot in HD up to 60p, and depending on your camera, it can still send images through the TX unit. I tried to feed 23.98, 24, 25, 30 and 60p signal sources to the TX unit and they all worked.
Input signals in interlaced scan format, such as 1080i, are not supported. In addition, Holland also confirmed that the following cameras are not compatible with Mars X: Canon 6D, 60D, 5D Mark II, 80D and 90D.
Atom X has a single full-size HDMI input. There is no output. If you need a wireless TX device with output, this device is not for you.
You can set a wi-fi password, but as far as I know, no other encryption technology is used on Mars X.
I personally don't think this is a problem, because people who use a wireless system worth $180 may not work on projects that need to protect signal security.
A good wireless video solution, regardless of its price, should be easy to install and run. To be honest, this shouldn't be a difficult task, and if so, then I think the product has failed.
After turning on the power of the TX unit and connecting the video source, you can open the application and connect your tablet or smartphone to the wi-fi network generated by Mars X. You can press the "on/off/channel" button twice to view the wi-fi password on Mars X.
Mars X is very fast and easy to use. After clicking "Connect", the screen will automatically greet and display the image from the video source.
Now, you don’t have to enter the password every time, you only need to enter the password when you connect to the device for the first time.
Back to usability, I wanted to see what happens if I lose the connection, so I closed Mars X and then reopened it. The problem I have is that once I close Mars X, the picture freezes. The image just doesn't come back. What I want to do is to exit the application and click Reconnect. Then, it resumed the connection almost immediately.
So, what if I unplug HDMI from the camera? First, you will receive a warning on the screen. Then, after re-plugging the HDMI cable into the system, the connection can be re-established in less than 2 seconds.
What should I do if I suddenly change the frame rate of the camera from 23.98p to 25p when the system is turned on? Well, this is considered a problem. When the picture came back, it was all broken and unusable. I have to restart the application to make it run again.
The application is very good, Holland includes a lot of useful video aids. This is what you get:
Now you can use multiple image aids at the same time, which is great. If you long-press any touch screen icon, another sub-layer will open, allowing you to make changes to the auxiliary tool.
It’s a bit strange that Canon C-Log, C-Log 2 and Sony S-Log only have LUTs. You can delete these LUTs, but can't find any way to upload LUTs to the device.
You can also take still images from video clips and add annotations. You can also record the video stream from the camera on the app itself. This is a nice little feature that allows you to play and view clips without having to operate from the camera.
There is also a page where you can view information related to Wi-Fi networks, Wi-Fi passwords and operating channels. You can change your password and channel on this page.
You can switch to eight channel options, so you can avoid interference and ensure stable wireless transmission. There is also a channel scanning function in the HollyView app. It can help users find out which channels are clean and which channels are interfered in a complex Wi-Fi environment.
The image quality of the signal appearing on the app is okay. For most people who buy such an affordable system, this may be enough. Having said that, the image does shake a bit when it moves. This is very common for application-based viewing.
Hollyland claims that the effective working range of Mars X is 300 feet (91.4m), but this is only if you have a clear line of sight. The more practical working range is only 150 feet (45.7 m). This is a system designed to be used next to the camera. If you need to send video at any distance, this is not the system to use.
Hollyland claims that the delay is only
Above, you can see my short-latency test using Kinefinity MAVO LF as the camera. As you can see, the latency is not too bad, especially for the HDMI-based TX unit that is being viewed via Wi-Fi on the app. The bottom screen is the monitor on the camera, and the top screen is the iPhone running the HollyView application.
I also measured the average latency in three test series at 77.33ms. These results are not bad for wireless video systems with limited budgets.
Now, there is question 22, which is why you should never use only one camera for a delay test, because the results can change a lot. When I use Panasonic S1H for the same test, the average delay is 216ms
You also need to remember that there will always be a delay between what is displayed on the camera monitor or EFV and what is actually recorded. Normally, it is so small that it is difficult for you to see it in the real world. At the top you can see that the time difference between the real-time stopwatch display and the image displayed on the HollyView app is 191ms.
What do these numbers actually mean? Well, anything below 100ms is considered low, because most people won't feel such a small delay. Once more than 100 milliseconds, we will feel a significant delay.
For reference, you can see above that the delay is zero when using the expensive Teradek system (well, the delay you can get is almost zero. In a scientific sense, no wireless system is actually zero). This is a good example of why you should spend more money on a high-end wireless video system.
You see, HDMI has inherent image processing issues, and yes, if you combine it with one of the cheaper wireless video systems, there may be a lot of delays. But in the end, you need to live with an acceptable limit. For viewing through the app, I can forgive the high latency, but if you use dedicated TX and RX units, it really needs to be below 100ms. When I say less than 100 milliseconds, I mean an "affordable" budget system. For high-end systems, it should be almost zero.
If you only look at application-based latency, you need to look at the performance of other wireless systems that can be transmitted to the application. Even devices like Teradek SERV Pro have very significant delays. I conducted a quick test and found that the delay time was about 200 milliseconds. No matter what camera I use, or whether I am feeding SDI or HDMI signals, the same delay exists.
As a more realistic comparison, let's look at the latency of the Accsoon CineEye wireless video transmitter. The average delay when using CineEye for testing is 203 milliseconds. The delay time of Mars X is much shorter than that of competitors' systems.
How does Mars X actually perform in the real world? Well, let us find out.
I want to test the range and performance of the system. In order to test the range of the system, I stayed within TX's line of sight, and then started walking around the tablet receiving the signal from Mars X. I found that I can get 110 m (360.9') and still maintain a stable signal.
Now, Holland claims that its maximum operating range is 328' (99.97m), but this is usually only possible on flat, open terrain with little wireless interference. I did not expect Mars X to reach its claimed working distance, but in fact it exceeds it by about 10m.
As a comparison, I used the Accsoon CineEye system to conduct a distance test. I found that I could reach about 160m before the signal disappeared.
Whenever I check the wireless video transmitter, I will test it in the exact same location under the same working conditions. In this way, I can get a good understanding of the comparison between various competing systems.
How does this price compare to other wireless video systems that can be streamed to the app?
Please note that all of the above systems provide different functions.
Mars X should be directly compared with the following products:
Although it is designed for Weebill S, it can be used as a standalone wireless transmitter and can be viewed on iOS or Android devices.
The wireless video transmission system needs rock-solid reliability. It doesn't have to hinder you, and it's easy to set up and use. Look, I see, this is a cheap wireless system and it shouldn't behave like a dedicated professional wireless system. That being said, it still needs to be reliable and easy to use.
You need to pay attention to the image delay, depending on the type of camera you are using. My test shows that the image delay can change a lot. With Kinefinity MAVO LF, the latency is quite good for an affordable wireless system, but when used with the Panasonic S1H, it is very bad. If you are watching the signal and are not near the camera and cannot see what is happening, the image delay is not necessarily important.
You need to know clearly that the system will not provide you with lag-free images. The result you will get depends to a large extent on the camera you are using.
Having said that, if you are talking about any application-based wireless streaming, they will have a considerable delay. If you think you can buy one of these types of systems that can stream to multiple smartphones or tablets at the same time, and expect extremely low latency performance, then you have a dream. Having said that, Mars X does provide you with a tolerable delay, and its performance is much better than other affordable wireless transmission systems of its kind.
You don’t want to buy a product, no matter how much it costs, or who you are targeting, and then find that its performance does not meet your expectations. I just want to let you know what you should expect and the limitations of Mars X.
Look, the quality of the stream is not as good as you see on the app, but it is good enough for many people. I don't want to see beautiful images on wireless systems that cost less than $200.
I like what Holland did on Mars X. It is quite reliable, easy to use, has a nice application, and has very good latency for application-based monitoring systems. The only thing to note is that the battery life is 1 hour, which basically forces you to power the device from an external power source.
All in all, it is difficult to troubleshoot a device that costs less than $180, which can stream video to multiple iOS or Android devices with appropriate delays.
Matthew Allard is an award-winning, ACS-certified freelance photography director with 30 years of work experience in more than 50 countries/regions around the world.
He is the editor of Newsshooter.com and has been writing articles on the site since 2010.
Matthew has won 41 ACS awards, including four prestigious golden tripods. In 2016, he won the Best Photography Award at the 21st Asian Television Awards.
Matthew can be hired as a DP in Japan or work anywhere else in the world.
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