Raven NVX Front Side
-- Vision: This honestly has the best vision of any mask I've tried. Not so much the clarity or tinting (see below), but because the peripheral vision is huge and it doesn't have the small blindspot the JT Flex7 does. I did have a slight amount of fogging *once*, but that was in the woods on quite a humid day. I could still see enough to play, but it still happened. This happened at the same time as the foam con (see below) so perhaps there's a connection with the foam..
-- Autotinting: The lense autotints. When you go in the sun, the lense will automatically tint. The effect isn't huge and the color depends on what lense you have.. some tint grey, others tint blue or yellow, etc. When I first read about this, I thought it was going to be a more dramatic effect than what I experienced. All in all, still works though. I'm not sure if me not really noticing the difference is a fault of the lense or just that I don't easily notice these things at the time. I think it's a bit of both...
-- Padding: The padding on this was nice. The 3-stage foam was quite a bit softer than the JT Flex7 which made for a cosy fit. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to this as well (see the con section). The mask did come with extra pieces of padding that you can add yourself to the mask for your ears. I included this as a pro for the main reason that they allow you to do this. I first thought... why should I have to put the foam on myself, but later realised that this would give the best comfort for you individually. Honestly, I didn't need it, but I'm sure there are people out there that would. The foam is the same 3-stage foam that fits around your eyes.
-- Ventilation: Although it may not look like it, the ventilation is very nice. No humid accumulation or anything.. you can breath fine, yell and be heard. Unfortunately, Raven claims you can get bounces off the mask.. chances are unless it's a long ball, it's probably gonna break. It's no where near as hard as say... a JT nVader and is a bit flexible, but I doubt flexible enough to get many (if any) bounces. Another drawback, is that chances are rather good you'll be eating paint if you get hit there.. but that's true with just about any mask with high ventilation like this.
-- The strap: While the headstrap is nice, the problem with it is there's only one buckle. What I mean is, on most other masks there's two buckles on the back that you can pull away from each other to tighten the mask. This only has one, which somewhat requires you to remove the mask to tighten it. Is it a big deal? No. I just don't see why it wasn't included standard.
-- Earpiece: Look at the side view picture and you'll probably see the piece I'm talking about.. the part to the right of the lense that covers your ears. It "locks" over another piece of plastic at the top and two near the bottom. Unfortunately, it's rather easy for these locks / clamps to come loose. While at no time did I ever feel this was or could be a hazard, it can start pressing against your head and really get quite painful rather quickly. This problem mainly stems from the plastic being a bit flexible.. unfortunately, since it's flexible, it doesn't always want to stay in place. It only takes about 10 seconds to fix, but does require you to take your mask off. Although this happened maybe once a day, I wouldn't consider this a major defect.
--The foam: Ahh, the foam. This is unfortunately, the masks downfall. The 3-stage foam is rather soft and cosy. Kind of like having pillow laying on your face. This has a drawback though.. it's so soft, that getting it wet (namely from sweat) can compress the foam and press the plastic from the mask against your face. Although it does dry quickly and one can easily "deal with it", this isn't the part that concerns me. What does concern me is that after a few months of playing with it, the foam has come loose off the mask. It started with the forehead area, and later I noticed the nose piece had come loose and was starting to stick to the lense (having been pushed there). Since the foam wouldn't stay and not having much other choice, I took the foam off in one piece in it's entirety and purchased some foam glue. After spreading it on the mask and glueing the foam back into place, it seemed to stay.... for a while. While it felt fine otherwise, next time I went out to play I started to sweat and the foam came off again. This, I believe is completely unacceptable. There is absolutely no reason this should happen.
-- The lense: I'm not sure if this is a problem with the lense itself, or just the lense staining from paint, so I'm putting it here as well. I've had problems with small spots appearing on the lense. While they're not large and you don't notice them if you're not looking for them with the mask on.. it makes me wonder why they're there. Is it from the autotinting going south? Did rubbing the paint off with water cause this (though it is a thermal lense)? Just a bit of paint staining? All in all, not a huge deal.. you can definately play with it.. I just haven't seen this happen before.
-- Tight fitting: Much like the JT Flex7, I can't count this as a pro or con, as it's preference. This mask is definately the closest "face-hugging" mask I've tried on. It's practically right on top of you.
In the end, I would like to say I love this mask. My only real complaint is that the foam has come off... had it not been for that, I would still be using this mask and recommending it. Being at least $10 cheaper than the cheapest invision I've found is nice, but not if the mask falls apart after a few months. I've e-mailed Raven several times on this issue asking what can be done (if I can have the mask replaced), but haven't received an answer... looks like I'll be calling them to work this out.
I would have easily given this mask an 8 or 9 out of 10, but with the foam problem, I can't honestly rate it higher. It does way outperform the nVader on every aspect, which is why I gave it that one extra point. Perhaps if Raven had contacted me back and worked it out I would still give it a high score.. If Raven does work things out, I may change my rating to 7, but no higher because of the hassle of having to nag them to fix it.
The mask does come with a visor, but since I do not play with one as was too lazy to put it on for the sole purpose of taking a picture only to remove it 1 minute later, I left it off.