As a Denver Broncos season ticket holder, I had the opportunity to use the new FanVision. The team selected certain season ticket holders based on an application for the season to trial these units free of charge and I was fortunate enough to get one. The unit is available for use at selected NFL venues (Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Miami, Minnesota, New York Jets, Philadelphia, Seattle St Louis and Washington), at the University of Michigan and for use during the Ryder Cup. The unit itself retails for $259 but currently has a limited introductory price of $199. There are also fees associated for use with each event, and you should contact your team’s representative or someone from FanVision or check out their website for pricing and information on attaining a unit.
The unit itself is roughly the size of a Sony PSP (Playstation Portable) and came with some earbuds, a charger, a USB cable for software updates and a lanyard.
My goal this past weekend, while at the Broncos and Colts game, was to put this unit to the full test. We showed up at the stadium around 9 AM and planned on tailgating until the game started at 2:15 PM. When we arrived, I fired the unit up to see if it would activate itself since part of the promise with it was that it works not only within the stadium but also in the parking lots. Sure enough, it synced and was ready to go. I did try powering up the unit at home just to see what would happen, even though I read it wouldn’t work outside of the confines of the stadium. Of course, it did nothing at home that was useful at all.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do with the unit at the parking lot until the early games started. One of the features that the unit offers is to enter your fantasy roster, and it will update you on their stats. I was able to at least get that setup before hand and play with some of the basic settings.
Fast forwarding to 11 AM for the early games, and I was able to watch several games as well as the NFL Red Zone channel. The picture quality and smoothness of the video was tremendous. Although it’s a small screen, it really worked well. The unit also had access to 3 different camera angles for Invesco field, but obviously with our game not being on yet they were not used. We kept it on the Red Zone channel all morning, because I personally love that channel, but activated the score ticker feature also hoping to catch scores all day. We also brought along a small set of portable speakers and plugged them into the headphone jack so we could hear it while we sat around and ate. The sound was not too bad, and made it a nice thing to have with us.
I did notice that around halftime of the early games, when I went to check my fantasy guys, that the stats were not updated at all. The score ticker was also not updated, most of the time showing that some games had not yet started when they already were halfway over with. The other thing I ran into once during our tailgating session was that the unit seemed to “lock up” and was frozen, forcing me to turn it off and back on.
Once the game began, we really saw where FanVision shines. Anyone that has been to a live game knows how brutal TV timeouts can be. Being able to catch other scores and live action was great for filling that time. The unit features the camera angles I mentioned before, as well as the live network feed of the game you are at and a local radio broadcast in case you want to listen. The real gem to me was the replay system. FanVision offered a few angles for replaying whatever the previous play on the field was. In our case, there were several calls we all booed and bitched about, and being able to see from other angles what happened was awesome. As an example, Denver appeared to score a goal line touchdown, the referees even called it a touchdown. We looked at the replay on FanVision from a couple angles and sadly realized, the runner had his knee down before the ball crossed the line. I told a couple people around me, “If they challenge this, we will lose”. Sure enough, the Colts challenged and won and we turned the ball over on downs. It was amazing to have that type of control and insight from the stands.
We unfortunately had the unit lock up at least 2 more times during the game, and the battery completely died with about 8 minutes to go. I was a little disappointed with the battery life. That should be something you can use from the start of your tailgate to the end of the game with no issues. The unit did not come with an extra battery either, so we were out of luck.
There are also some accessories available through the FanVision website. One of them is a team specific cover which would be cool, and it looks like the one for the Broncos (that is the only one I looked at) is $5.99 which is pretty cheap.
Here are some pros, cons and things I wish they would add or modify…
- The Replay System
- Game selection
- NFL RedZone Channel
- Picture quality
- Size (compact enough, but just right to see)
- Ease of use
- Range of use in the parking lots and stadium
- Battery life
- System Lock-Ups (presumably a fixable software thing?)
- Delayed fantasy and score ticker stats (again, software?)
- Power up time (I didn’t mention it, but it takes quite a while to initially power up)
- More replay angles
- More accessories
- A stand to sit the unit upright on a table (perfect for tailgating)
- Outputs to hook up to a TV for larger displaying (again, tailgating)
- Deeper fantasy options (perhaps partnered with the NFL’s fantasy leagues?)
- An extra battery, standard with the unit
Overall, I am thrilled with the product. It is something I would absolutely feel good about recommending for someone to purchase and use during the games. A lot of people commented that it would be a distraction from the actual game and nothing could be further from the truth…at least in my case. It was just enough for the fan that wants to stay up on other games and their fantasy players to keep the timeouts from being so dreadful. The reply angles alone along with the radio and network feeds makes the unit worth the price in my opinion. I have a strong feeling the lock-ups and delays in stats are all fixable things via software, probably the boot times also.
All in all, I feel good about scoring FanVision a 4.5 out of 5 Mile High Salutes