A little expensive
Very difficult lens change
Limited chin and jaw protection
One store in my area had the i3 for sale already. I was only able to give a short run through, but it's very similar to the old Invision and Proto Switch. I'll compare and contrast the i3 in various categories to both of those aforementioned masks.
This is by far one of the most important aspects of a mask, and the i3 does well in the first half of this category. The vision is excellent--it's almost as if you aren't wearing a mask at all. The lens gives a very clear view, and the range of vision is easily sufficient. The whole field can be viewed with ease with the i3. The lens itself though is the main weak-point of the i3, and I'm not talking about the vision qualities. I'm talking about the lens change (or lack there of). The lens system is the same as the old Invision, and it's terrible. The lens is very difficult and time consuming to change. I like to change or clean lenses if necessary between rounds, and the i3 doesn't permit me to do that. The much older and cheaper Proto Switch - a Dye product - has a simple, fast, and easy lens change. I don't understand why Dye didn't transfer this technology to their "best" mask. The lack of a speedy lens change is the most annoying aspect of the i3. The lenses however are available in multiple colors and shades and aren't too expensive, so that goes on the plus side.
This is another strong point of the Invision. Dye hasn't changed the fit from the old Invision and the Proto Switch. The mask is very comfortable for extended periods of play, and it's comfortable for most players. The foam is soft and forms nicely to your face, and the weight of the mask isn't noticeable in the heat of a game. Ventilation is very good, and this keeps you cooler on those hot and humid days. Overall the comfort factor of the i3 is definitely one of the best available.
The protection of the Dye i3 is both a plus and minus. For tournament and upper level players, the low profile is a plus. The mask rides closely to the head, and the target profile is low. The i3 might save you that hit to stave off elimination. For lower level recreational players, the i3 is a little scarce on chin and jaw protection. A hit in that area isn't fun, and the i3 leaves those areas a little too exposed for my taste. I would rather have a mask with plenty of protection and allow the user to cut it down if desired. The i3 just doesn't permit this. For both types of players however, the softer rubber lower portion is a nice addition to the Dye i3. It's about the same softness as the Proto Switch, and you might get a bounce or two--bounces that were not remotely possible with the old Invision. The softer rubber is a nice upgrade to the Invision line.
The i3 is simply typical Dye. Awesome is the first word that always comes to mind. The different color pattern and design is really just a minor overhaul from the old Invision, but it only enhanced the appearance. My initial thoughts about pictures of the i3 were of dislike. I thought Dye had ruined the looks from the previous Invision. But after taking a closer look now, the i3 is the best looking mask out there to me, period. This mask can make any player look more formidable, and that never hurts.
Again it's just typical Dye; it means that it's a little expensive. Masks in general are getting too expensive, and Dye used to be the leader in that category. $85 doesn't seem as much now because of masks that are over $100, but the Invision could be a bit cheaper considering the fact that the mask hasn't changed much from the previous version. Overall it isn't a big deal, but the price isn't something to cheer about.
I only recommend the Dye i3 to persons that have to have a Dye mask or people that really want the great looks of the i3. I don't recommend the i3 to anyone else. Before you complain about my rating, I'll explain myself. It has been about two years since the original Proto Switch FS became available. The Switch is still for sale for about $65, and I'll put this frankly: The Proto Switch FS is a better mask than the i3, and has a lower price to boot. The i3's lens system is just too difficult and time consuming to change. I don't understand why Dye didn't harness the easy and quick lens change of the Switch and add that to the i3. VForce has had an easy lens change for quite some time now, the new Vents line also has jumped on that bandwagon, and Dye has already had it for a while now with the Switch. Dye's failure to include this is the single most important reason why the i3 is not the best mask for sale today, and it's not even close to being the best. Along with a few other minor gripes, the i3 gets a solid 8. This doesn't mean it's a bad mask (it's a very respectable choice for a mask), but a 10 rating is reserved for the best mask out there in the identical price range. The i3 is not nearly the best mask, and great looks is more of personal opinion than anything else, so that's the reason behind my rating.
Dispute: The price of an item is not a factor in a review of HOW GOOD THE MASK WORKS. Once you own the mask no one cares about how much it was. In fact as far as paintball goes for the most part the MORE you spend on equipment the more awesome you are. Not saying thats true but for real cost is NOT a consideration in a review. Don't take this the wrong way either all your other info was top notch.
Last edited on Thursday, November 19th, 2009 at 9:33 am PST