Let us begin with some similarities. If we look at both models, even though there are some differences in size, they pretty much have the same style, similar form factor, they use the same button placement on top, both have a blue power-up button, they have the up button, and the menu button. They both have Wi-Fi connectivity and stream vision capabilities, meaning that you can connect both devices to a smartphone. You can capture images, record videos, you can stream the image to your smartphone, and you can also update the device with Wi-Fi.
They have 16 GB of internal memory, they both have the AMOLED type of display with a resolution of 1024x768, and they can both withstand temperatures as low as -25°C and up to 50°C. There is a maximum, but this is already such a high temperature that nobody will encounter. The objective rubber lens cover will have a magnet and this comes in handy because it does not move around as it will hold in place.
For the differences, the bodies are not the same. There is about 20% or 10% of difference and when you put it in your hand you see that the XQ38 is much more robust, heavy, and big. It is 100 g heavier. The AxionXM30S fits in every pocket, while for the XQ38, you will need a little bit bigger pockets. The second difference normally is the lens diameter. The lens diameter is 38 mm on the XQ38 model, and 30 mm on the XM model. The sensor in the XM30S is the amorphous silicate sensor 320x240 pixels, and it has a pixel pitch of 12 microns, so it has the smallest pixel pitch among all Pulsar devices. XM30S and XM22 are the only two devices in the Pulsar range which have amorphous silicate sensors.
With XQ38, you get a vanadium oxide sensor 384x288. When you look at the architecture of this sensor, at least from the specs, it is completely the same that Pulsar devices have had for years. The Quantums, Helions, and the Core series already had this sensor. Both of them have 50 hertz, which is the standard. Another difference is also the NETD factor (Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference) which means how sensitive the sensor is, how many details you will be able to see, and how many details the device will render. So, the smaller the NETD, the smaller the temperature difference needs to be between two objects that the device distinguishes between. The XQ38 has 40 millikelvins, and XM30 has 60 millikelvins and it shows: the XQ38 gives you much better details and higher image quality.
Furthermore, the difference is also in the tripod screw on the XQ38 – it is in the front, and on the XM30 it is below. In our opinion, the solution on the XM30 is better than on the XQ38. Last but not least, there is a difference in the eyepiece. The eyepiece of the XQ38 is much more advanced than it is in the XM30. It is really close to the eyepiece of the Helions, so even people who wear glasses can use the XQ38 much easier than the XM30. There is even a feeling that the screen inside is bigger due to the lenses which are inside of the eyepiece.
On the XM30S, there is 4.5x base magnification that goes all the way up to 18x. The XQ38 has 3.5x, and it goes to 14x. Both have 2x digital zoom and XM38 has a wider field of view, so approximately 17.2 m / 100 m and XQ38 has 15 m / 100m. XM30 has APS3 batteries – you just press it in and then you have a button on the side which you push and the battery comes out in a matter of seconds. With the new XQ38, you have a much bigger battery which will also last longer: APS5. Here, you put the battery in and screw it in and then unscrew it and get it out – it is much more difficult to do.
It was a big breakthrough for Pulsar to begin producing batteries and it offers devices where you are able to exchange the battery really fast. This is an advantage against all the competitors. First of all, when the battery runs out, you need just a couple of seconds to replace it. An extra battery costs around 40€, and normally, you always need multiple batteries, and here, you are always able to exchange them really fast, so this is a really big plus.
Competitive devices that have internal batteries always run out exactly in the moment of need. With Pulsar, this problem disappears. The second thing is that the battery is probably the weakest part of all thermal devices, so when the battery starts to fade, it is simple to just change it for a new one and it is not that expensive. With competitors, you have to send it back to the service to change the internal battery. The charger is updated on the new model. It also has a cooler at the bottom and what we want to mention here is that when we compare these two devices, the XM30S has a micro USB socket, while the XQ28 has a USB Type-C socket and you also get a different cable.
For optical performance, the two products have a range of detection that is almost the same: 1.300 m and 1.350 m. The identification range, however, is much better on the XQ38. With an XQ38, even though the range of detection is similar, the range of identification is much better. You can better see the details, it has a better sensor, lower LED, and a bigger lens. On top of that, you even get a wider field of view. The XM30S costs 1.690 €, and the XQ38 costs 1.990 €, so there is 300 € of difference. For this 300 € of difference, you get better image quality, better identification, longer battery life, and an eyepiece that is easier to use if you wear glasses. Apart from that, all the rest is more or less the same.
If you like compact devices and if a lightweight product is important to you, XQ38 is better, as it weighs around 250 g, and the XM30S weighs 350 g. If you are on a search for a compact device, then XM30S is a good choice. However, if image quality and use with glasses are more important, then the XQ38 is probably a better choice and this is after all a newer device – it was released in the second part of 2020. Even though these batteries are smaller, the batteries on XQ38 are far more secure. There is a 3-year warranty on both and the service is in Lithuania. Even if the warranty period expires, they will repair it for you.
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