I’ll start with some background as to why I was in the market for a new transmitter. I had been using a Traxxas TQI transmitter for a little over a year. Two other people I know where also using them, until theirs failed to turn on one day after only 3 months. My TQI failed to turn on for me the other day and at that point I had enough. The TQI is loaded with features and is easy to use if you have an Ipod, but at the end of the day we had a failure rate of 3 for 3, in less than a year. The TQI failures are nothing new and could be OK if you are a US citizen and can get the warranty work. Here in Canada and other parts of the world, shipping charges are so expensive, that it isn’t worth sending it to Traxxas to repair only to have it fail again. The failure rate of the TQI is well documented on the internet and it leads me to wonder why these issues are taking so long to resolve. IMO, the Traxxas vehicles are some of the best in the market depending on your application, but the TQI misses the mark.
A few of the things I was looking for in a transmitter.
– I wanted four channels , as I think a Crawler or a 1/5 scale may be in my future.
– LCD Display
– Reliability, Durability
– Comfortable to hold
– Inexpensive receivers
– Telemetry (This wasn’t a deal breaker, as the only telemetry I really ended up using on the TQI was the battery voltage.)
– I don’t want to spend more then $250
Spektrum DX4S Part# SPM4010. MSRP $249.99.
I was lucky enough to find one at my LHS. I really liked how it felt in my hands, I like the look and functions. The fact that it comes with two receivers didn’t hurt and the AVC system is something that interest me. I did my online research and found one to many people complaining of glitching and range issues with Spektrum surface Transmitters. These complaints seemed much more prevalent with the lower end of the Spektrum surface Transmitters. I can’t say if the issues are legit or not, I know many people that haven’t had a problem with Spektrum Transmitters, but it is something I need to consider. Big Squid gave the Spektrum DX4S a very good review, but the end of the day, I put more weight into what regular users say about their gear on various online forums.
Futaba 4PLS Part# FUTK1410. MSRP $249.99
I loved the look of the Futaba 4PLS, but my LHS didn’t have any in stock so I wasn’t able to hold it. The North American version includes one telemetry receiver, while the version sold in Japan and Hong Kong has 2 receivers and a case for $235. The receivers are relatively inexpensive and can be found for around $38, unless you want a telemetry receiver, in which case you are looking at around $60. The Futuba 4PLS got a solid review from Big Squid and the Futaba 4PL won their Basher Approved Award. When I did more online research on various RC forums, it was hard to come across people that had anything negative to say about Futaba Transmitters, much less a consistent issue.
Based on my research and criteria, I selected the Futaba 4PLS having never held it in my hand, I nervously awaited for its arrival from Tower Hobbies. I ordered it from Tower Hobbies, because my LHS doesn’t carry Futaba (They could order it in, but so can I, so that is what I did). I also had a gift certificate and Tower Hobbies offers great savings for its members. I was able to get the Futaba to my door in Nova Scotia, from Illinois in 8 days at a price of $211 including shipping. The minute I held it, I knew I made the right call, it felt more natural in my hand then the Spektrum and it would be a crime to compare it to the TQI. The receiver and transmitter were bound together from the factory so the install was a breeze. I will be putting the 4PLS through its paces in the next couple of days and I will share my thoughts.