The Horus X10 is the best radio FrSky has ever made. So why am I struggling to convince myself to switch away from my Taranis? If you’re trying to decide whether to upgrade to the X10 or X10, I’m going to lay it out for you.
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Aesthetics & Build Quality
The X10 is an absolutely beautiful radio, both to look at, and to hold. The faux-leather grips feel great in your hand. The knobs have that sort of damped resistance that good pots have. Resistance gently builds as you turn the pot and gently releases as you slow down. The entire radio is SOLID. It’s heavy enough to not feel cheap, without being uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. The screen is bright and colorful and big, but not so big as to be unwieldy like the X12. I really struggle with this because a big part of the reason I lust after this radio is how good it looks and feels, and I wish I were more RATIONAL AND OBJECTIVE but I’m just not. I want to lick this radio. I want to carry it around and take it to bed with me, like a kid who got a new toy and wont give it up.
The gimbals in the X10 are significantly better designed and machined than those of the X9D or QX7. But to be honest, the difference between them and the M9 gimbals is subtle, and I suspect many pilots wouldn’t notice the difference. The sticks are just a little more solid at full deflection, so your endpoints don’t change if you push a little harder on the stick. And they re-center just a little more precisely. The resistance is just a little bit more consistent over the stick’s travel. These are incremental improvements over the M9, but the improvements are there. (Note: The main difference between the X10 and the X10S is that the X10S has the M12 Plus gimbal, with full CNC machining, while the X10 has the M10 gimbal, which is still pretty damn good, but not quite as good.)
The X10 has an internal antenna. This seemed like a gimmick to me at first, but I tried it, and you have no idea how liberating it was to remove the external antenna and not worry about breaking it off any more. I haven’t noticed any reduction in range either. In fact, the internal antenna is actually a two-element diversity setup, and some people have reported increased range compared to the external antenna.
The big screen on the X10 significantly improves the usability of OpenTX. Under the hood, OpenTX is basically the same as it always has been, you can just see a lot more at once. The jog wheel is way, way nicer to use than the buttons on the X9D (the QX7 also has a jog wheel, for what it’s worth). You can customize the main screen on the X10 with specific “widgets” so that you see exactly what you want to see when you glance down. Examples of “widgets” that you can put on screen include transmitter battery voltage, telemetry information, stick position, text, timers, or graphics.
Although the radio is beautiful, its ergonomics, to me, are worse than the X9D. The edges of the radio are more angled than rounded. The X10 is more wide-and-thin, while the X9D is more narrow-and-thick. I find the X9D to be more comfortable to hold. The sticks on the X10 also feel little further inward from the edge of the radio, so that it feels like my fingers have to reach just a bit more than on the X9D.
The angular shape of the radio means that the switches are not placed right where your fingers naturally land. You get used to this quickly and you can find the switches without a problem, but it’s not as seamless as it could be. Compare the X10 to an Xbox or Playstation game controller. One of these is designed around the ergonomics of the human hand, and one is not.
The shape of the X10 is similar to that of the QX7, so if you’ve been happy with a QX7, you’ll probably also like the X10.
The X10 has a built-in 2-cell lithium battery. It charges from a regular DC adapter that comes with the radio. The battery life is significantly less than on the X9D, probably because of the screen. I was running my radio with the screen on 100% of the time and the battery dropped to about half charge in just a couple hours of use. Obviously, battery life would be longer if I set the screen to turn off, and you can do this. I’m not saying that battery life is necessarily a problem. I fully expect that the battery will get you through a long day of flying. I’m just saying that if you’re used to charging your X9D battery once a month, you’ll have to get used to nightly charging if you get the X10.
The neck-strap lug on the X10 has no provision for a balance-bar. A balance-bar lets you adjust the hang-point of the neck strap so that the radio balances and tends to hang flat. The location of the neck-strap lug on the X10 means that the radio does not hang flat. This sounds like a small thing, but it’s a very fundamental part of radio ergonomics, and it’s pretty annoying that FrSky got this wrong. When you are operating the radio, it’s easy to hold it flat. But the minute you let go of the radio and it hangs by the neck strap, it falls face-first into your chest. Switches get bumped and sticks get moved. If the radio hangs flat, this doesn’t happen. It’s super annoying, and it happens every freaking time you take your hands off the radio–which is the entire freaking point of the neck strap.
The X10 is just a bit wider than the X9D (similar dimensions to the QX7) so it will have trouble fitting into some bags and packs that are sized more for the X9D or the Spektrum DX6.The
I am really on the fence about this radio. It has real and significant functional advantages compared to the X9D. It is so much more pleasant to use in almost every way. It is a joy to look at and to touch. I just can’t decide whether all of that outweighs the fact that it fits my hand worse than the X9D, has shorter battery life by far, and hangs badly on a neck strap. That’s what it comes down to for me: how much do I care about the core ergonomics of the radio vs. the aesthetics and usability?
If you buy an X10, I can pretty much guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed. This is a really, really good radio. The question isn’t whether the X10 will make you happy: it will. The question is just whether an X9D would make you just as happy, and keep a fair chunk of cash in your pocket.