Paul Austin introduces a new player on the thermal scene - Thermtec's new range of Cyclops thermal spotters are affordable with a very different control system...

Optical Solutions, the company that pioneered the introduction of IRay into the UK, are back with a new player in the thermal game - namely, Thermtec, with their new range of Cyclops thermal spotters.

They are not a sensor manufacturer attempting to cut out the middle man in the style of IRay or HIK Micro, however, their initial release of a range of very affordable and indeed functional thermals is well worth closer inspection.
Thermtec offer a similar form factor to IRay and HIK Micro, with three units employing 384x288 sensors, while the two larger units offer 640x512. The control system is noticeably different from the norm, with a rocker/joystick navigation system controlling the core functions and menu control.

Once you get used to it, the joystick system does offer some marked benefits over the typical long press, short press controls of their competitors. The primary benefit is tactile feedback when adjusting settings. There’s no hunting for buttons, which often aren’t pronounced enough on some systems, especially when wearing gloves.

The luminous orange joystick/button combo sticks up fairly high above the main body and it’s impossible to miss, even in the trickiest gloves or the darkest of nights. Build quality is impressive, with a heavy-duty rubberised skin enclosing the familiar elongated tear drop design in the style of the IRay E series spotters.

There are all the bells and whistles we’ve come to associate with quality thermal gear, with pic and video recording and playback, smooth zoom, 1024 OLED display, 12µm pixel pitch, wifi connectivity to the app, IP67 waterproofing as well as impressive battery life.

There’s 16GB of internal storage for pics and video, plus a useful collection of image-tweaking options including six colour palettes, PIP and environmental modes, as well as brightness, sharpness, denoise and contrast controls, all of which are accessed via a quick double-click on the dumpy joystick.

There’s also an AI-based ranging system, but at this stage that’s just a gimmick rather than a serious tool. Nevertheless it’s an interesting addition even though at this point it only really works when it feels like it. A useful techy addition is of bidirectional wifi, so you can connect to the spotter to sharing without sacrificing your connection to the internet.

Ignoring the rather speculative addition of AI, there’s a lot to like about the Cyclops. I had the 384x288 model CP335 on test and I had no complaints at all regarding image quality. The NETD is slightly high at 40mk for the 388 sensors and 30mk for the 640 variants, but having said that the overall image quality certainly seems on a par with anything running a similar spec sensor.

The unit’s more advanced image tweaking options, functionally and connectivity more than make up for the slightly higher NETD. Overall, it’s an impressive device that covers all the bases while still retailing a fair bit cheaper than the competition.

This is just a first look at Thermtec and the new Cyclops range. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more from them, as there’s already a binocular version in the pipeline. I hope to get a look at the CP635 fairly soon and see how that stacks up against the other entry level 640 sensors on the market.

Cyclops options
Cyclops CP315   Price: £1,045 - Sensor: 384x288 
Cyclops CP325   Price: £1,245 - Sensor: 384x288 
Cyclops CP335   Price: £1,495 - Sensor: 384x288 
Cyclops CP635   Price: £2,145 - Sensor: 640x512 
Cyclops CP650   Price: £2,335 - Sensor: 640x512

(The final two figures of the product name denotes lens size)
The Cyclops range ship with a 3-year UK warranty

For more information contact Optical Solutions