Pulsar is the leading manufacturer of affordable night vision and thermal optics. Their business plan is aimed at being one step in front of all the other manufacturers of such devices. How do they actualize it? Well, they basically update their products as frequently as possible, implementing their newest technologies. Not only are they lightning fast when it comes to development, but they also set affordable prices for their products that no other manufacturer can match. They never fail to present something fresh at Shot Show, so let’s see what they’ve come up with this year.
Here at Shot Show, I was pleased to see and test Pulsar’s brand new affordable thermal imaging monocular, Axion. Up to now, the most affordable thermal devices made by Pulsar were Quantum Lite models, XQ23V and XQ30V (priced 1400 € and 1600 EUR respectively). Now that the launch of Axion has been announced, the Quantum Lite models will soon be discontinued.
For now, there are four models scheduled for release – XM30, XM38, Key XM22, and Key XM30. The difference between the first two is in the diameter of the objective lens. XM30 provides a wider field of view while XM38 displays more details on the screen. Even though the latter is more expensive, it is not necessarily better – it all depends on the hunting method used. The third and fourth model, Key XM22 and Key XM30, are simplified versions of the previously mentioned models. The first difference is in the optics – chalcogenide is used instead of germanium. Furthermore, Key models lack the video recorder and the Stream vision app. They come with an LCOS-display instead of an AMOLED one, making them unable to withstand extreme temperatures, and have a slightly weaker resolution of the display – 960x720 instead of 1024x768.
The magnification range is slightly different in all the models. Other than that, there are no notable differences. We are glad that Pulsar added Key models since not all hunters need the video recording function. The expected retail prices for Axion are 1100 to 2500 €, the Key models being on the more affordable side. All the models feature 8 colour modes and a refresh rate of 50 Hz. They are powered by the B-Pack Mini Power System which can be charged in two ways, either by connecting the device to the included charger station or via USB. Pulsar added the Picture in Picture function so that the user can view an additional, magnified image of the observed object in the upper part of the display. The image is small enough not to block too much of the original image.
The models that allow Photo & Video recording have amazing internal storage of 16 GB.
So, what improvements does Pulsar bring to their entry-level thermal devices with the introduction of Axion? The first one is an improved resolution of the display. Quantum lite models have a display resolution of 640x480, while the new Axion has an amazing display resolution of 1024x768 (960x720 for the Key models), providing the user with finer details of the observed objects.
Secondly, the XM30 and XM38 models feature a video recorder which the Quantum lite models lacked. This opens a whole new world for Pulsar entry-level thermal imaging optics as this feature was up to now limited to devices such as Helion and Core, which are on the more expensive side. Furthermore, the Stream Vision app has been added (only to models that feature a video recorder). This is also something that was not available on any of the models from the Quantum Lite series. This app basically allows the user to link the mobile phone (Android or iOS) with the device. Once connected, the user can manipulate with the device’s setting over the phone, stream the image online, etc. Axion devices have a microbolometer with a resolution of 320x240 (Quantum Lite devices had a resolution of 384x288). Pulsar lowered the resolution, but they changed the pixel pitch. Quantum lite models have a pixel pitch of 17 µm, while the new Axion models have a pixel pitch of 12 µm. With the help of software, Pulsar has achieved an incredibly crisp image, so that the user can see even more details than on Quantum Lite. Another upgrade is also a change in size. The new Axion is almost pocket-sized and extremely lightweight – they weigh 250 g. The housing is made out of a magnesium alloy, adding to the ruggedness.
Pulsar has a habit of presenting new products that render optics users speechless. This year, they haven’t changed that habit. Axion and Thermion were in the centre of the attention at Shot Show, and rightly so. These devices are sure to be a hit. At Shot Show, I learned that the warranty for these devices will be 3 years. They are to be launched on the market soon, probably in late April.