The hottest and smallest radio controllers for FPV in 2020 have to be the TBS Tango 2 and Frsky X-Lite Pro. In this review we will compare the two and help you decide which one to buy.
New to FPV? Check out my radio transmitter buyer’s guide. This article is written by Connor Mullan, edited by Oscar Liang.
Where to Buy (Affiliate Links)
TBS Tango 2:
Frsky X-Lite Pro:
- Banggood: https://oscarliang.com/product-aimc
- RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-rmzt
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/31tGPUS
Many compare the X-Lite and Tango 2 to a typical gaming console remote, with the intention of being more compact and easier to hold in the hand, as well as stripping down the non-essential features (for FPV drone pilots) such as trims and excessive switches in an effort to make it smaller.
Today the TBS Tango II and the FrSky X-Lite Pro are often compared head to head, as they are the latest compact radio offerings from the two companies.
They have a similar size, both ticking the box for a smaller radio that is very easy to throw in your bag for travelling light. But, which one should you buy? Let’s find out.
Ease of Setup
Out the box, I found that the Tango II was easier and quicker to get updated and working out of the two.
It is currently running the ‘Freedom TX’ software, a temporary fork of ‘OpenTX’ that the X-Lite is running. This means that you simply have to connect to ‘TBS Agent X’ (TBS’ application for updating all of their devices), and download the most recent update – for both the transmitter itself and the internal Crossfire module.
Update (Dec 2020): firmware will revert to OpenTX by the end of 2020.
In contrast, to update the X-Lite Pro, you have to go through the more confusing OpenTX Companion software, which requires a lot more “googling and youtubing” to learn how to use it. To flash the module, you have to go search for the correct firmware file on FrSky’s website. For someone who is a first time user, it is certainly a lot more complicated to update the X-Lite.
With the X-Lite, setting up the R9 receiver (both the R9MM and R9 Mini) was just as confusing as setting up the remote for me. If you’re using FPort, there is a setting hidden in the receiver tab that is turned off by default, so having pulled your hair out over inverting serial_rx, flipping between the S.port and Inverted S.port on the r9mm, your problem may lie with this option in the transmitter.
For the TBS Nano RX, I simply wired as the diagram instructed and bound to the transmitter without even having to press the bind button. This feature is perfect as not having to take apart the quadcopter to hold down the bind button (that can often be rather fragile after multiple uses) saves a lot of time.
However, one aspect that was quicker with the X-Lite was navigating the menus on the transmitter.
As for the menu itself, both transmitters have essentially the same layout and menus as they both run OpenTX (or a fork of OpenTX). Having said this, I felt the joystick on the X-Lite did a better job at easily flicking through the menus with added precision when changing models names, output power etc.
After getting used to the scroll wheel on the Tango II I was able to speed up navigating my way through the menus, but had more consistent misclicks with the scroll wheel in comparison to the joystick.
External Modules Bay
The Frsky X-Lite Pro has an external module bay, but the TBS Tango 2 doesn’t. That means you are stuck with 900MHz Crossfire in the Tango.
One of the biggest benefits of choosing the Frsky X-Lite Pro would be its ability to use external modules. This allows you to use other protocols by installing an external module such as the R9M Lite Pro module (900MHz), or the multi-protocol IRX4 Lite module (2.4GHz) that allows you to bind to almost any 2.4Ghz receiver on the market.
Update (Dec 2020): Originally the Tango 2 only supports Crossfire (915MHz), but recently TBS added hardware and software support for an external “lite” module, meaning a multiprotocol module can be added to the internal crossfire module so that it can control practically anything, pretty much like the TX16S when it comes to protocols.
If you plan to only use 900MHz, bear in mind the X-Lite doesn’t come with the R9M module and has to be purchased separately. This will bring the X-Lite at a higher price point at around £210 versus only £155 for the Tango II as Crossfire is built-in.
Build Quality and Battery
Both transmitters have premium build quality and feel solid in the hand. The Frsky X-Lite Pro is designed to take two 18650 Li-ion cells, so it feels slightly heavier, whereas the TBS Tango 2 uses an inbuilt 1S 5000mAh LiPo battery, and it feels slightly lighter in comparison.
Stick Throw and Gimbal Size
There are a few big differences between the two radios that can polarise people if they are concerned by it, one of them being “Stick Throw”.
Stick throw refers to the distance that the gimbal stick can travel from one side to the other, which in the case of the Tango II is approximately 40.5mm. In comparison to the X-Lite’s 36.5mm, it’s noticeable when switching between the two. For me, I didn’t find this to be an issue but greater stick throw should allow for slightly more precision during flying.
If you’re coming from a full-sized transmitter like an X9D or QX7, you will be losing some stick-throw as they both measure in at approximately 46.5mm, so the reduced travel on the Tango 2 might surprise you if you expect them to be ‘full sized gimbals’ as claimed by TBS.
Having said this, there are times when you might actually prefer the less travels of both transmitters. For example when you are flying aggressively and need to reach all ends of the stick travel without having to stretch or readjust my hands during flying. I personally find this to be more comfortable for a long day of flying.
If i was being picky, the X-Lite gimbals actually sound better as they have more of a mechanical clunk, compared to the Tango’s slightly plastic twang when flicking to the gimbals from one side to the other.
The other polarising feature would be the switches.
The Tango II comes with two 2-position switches (these are actually buttons rather than traditional switches), two 3-position switches and 2 momentary buttons on the reverse side. One of the above is a ‘traditional’ style and can throw some people off when they first receive the remote.
The 3-position switches are essentially rocker switches and the two position switches are buttons that can be depressed and will lock into place. TBS has done this to make it ultra-portable, with less chances of snapping off a switch if it were to be dropped or caught in a backpack. I personally find this a fantastic choice and did not have any issues ‘switching’ over to this style over the traditional style switch. It means it can be more portable and durable making it less of a worry if it was loosely in a bag.
If you don’t like the switch choices on the Tango, you might find the X-Lite more attractive as it offers traditional switches as well as two sliders on top of what the Tango II has to offer. The switches on the X-Lite Pro are a definite step up from the non-pro versions and feel of a good quality, whilst being smaller than traditional switches to benefit it in the portable/durable design of things.
The X-Lite also utilises a gyro that you can even assign to a channel should you ever need to do this (like a steer wheel), but mainly just allows the screen to light up when you pick up the remote, a nifty feature that I did not realise I would miss moving over to the Tango II.
The Tango II comes with a place to mount the neck strap but be aware that the base version of the Tango 2 does not come with this mount, it must be bought separately. Having said this, the X-Lite Pro has nowhere to mount a neck strap and an accessory must be purchased that wraps around the whole transmitter to allow you to connect a neck strap. It’s something I managed to live without, but much prefer at least the option to add a neck strap if I decided I needed one.
My personal preference for stick tension is on the looser side as it feels like I have more control, allowing more fluid motions during smooth flight as there is less resistance from the springs.
Having said that, stick tension can be altered on both transmitters to whatever tension you prefer. The X-Lite allows you to alter the stick tension without having to take apart the transmitter via the back of the remote, whereas the Tango II requires removing the back plastic cover to access the stick tension screws. This may seem slightly daunting but I believe it is only 6 screws and is very easy to do.
Out of the box, I personally found the X-Lite’s tension was much looser compared to the Tango II that seemed to be very stiff. I personally preferred the X-Lite stock tension and had to reduce the tension on the Tango to match.
Whilst both transmitters share a similar maximum volume, there was no noticeable difference between the clarity of the sound. The only issue I saw was with the Tango II speaker placement. At times I would notice that the palm of my hand covers the speaker grill, sometimes muffling the sound coming out of it. It was only slightly and I could still hear the callouts, but the placement of the X-Lite speaker is in the centre of the remote, which seems like a better place to be.
As someone who prefers the ‘thumbs’ style of flying, I found both of these transmitters to be more than comfortable to fly for hours at a time. I played a simulator back to back with these for an hour at a time and found both of them to have the same level of comfort.
The X-Lite has a longer area for your fingers to grip so I found I would have three fingers wrapped around the battery areas, with my index fingers landing between the 2 and 3 position switches.
As for the Tango II, which is stubbier, I had my two fingers around the lower area, with a finger resting on the back of the remote and my index fingers falling on the 2 position switch. Because of this, I found disarming and arming to be quicker with the Tango as my finger was already in position to hit the button, instead of having to shift my finger up to flick the switch on the X lite.
As for a pincher, I have been told (and tried) that the Tango II is the preferred remote for pinching and the X lite is a lot more difficult for those trying to pinch with.
Button Placement and Layout
The X-Lite was my preferred transmitter when setting up a new model or playing with the model settings. The Joystick that is used to navigate the menus felt intuitive and easy to use, as well as surprisingly more accurate. This paired with the back button on the same side meant that for just using one thumb, you could precisely and quickly do what you needed to get done.
With the Tango II, I feel that sometimes I try and click the scroll wheel but as I press down to click, the wheel can spin slightly and cause me to misclick, not something that was an issue on the X-Lite. The Tango also needed both hands for navigation as the “Back”, “Menu” and “Page” buttons are on the opposite side of the scroll wheel.
As for the other switch layouts, they were both in positions that were easy to reach and made sense from a user perspective. I did not feel the need to readjust my hand to get to anything, like you might on a full sized transmitter. I will say I prefer the on/off button on the Tango II as it is easier to reach, the X-Lite proves slightly more awkward as I found myself extending my thumb to reach it when turning it on/off.
Which Did I Prefer?
Buy the TBS Tango 2 from:
Buy the Frsky X-Lite Pro from:
- Banggood: https://oscarliang.com/product-aimc
- RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-rmzt
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/31tGPUS
When both radios are set up and sitting in front of me, I thought choosing one over the other would be easier than it turned out to be.
I like the inbuilt gyro on the X-Lite, so when it senses movement the screen lights up, not something I expected to miss but was useful nonetheless. I am a big fan of the antenna design on the Tango II; when turned 90 degrees it can be used as a transmitter stand which I find myself using almost every time that it is out.
However, in terms of setting each one up for multiple models, the ease of set up on the Tango was definitely significant. I spent 2 days just trying to update the X-Lite Pro, flash the R9M module, as well as the receivers. Binding was easy enough, but trying to get them to work on an F4 flight controller via FPort was far more challenging than I expected, so challenging that I gave up and just used SBUS and smart port.
As for the Tango 2, I connected to TBS Agent X software, updated everything painlessly, bound to receivers without even pressing the bind button and only had to solder the cables once in every quadcopter that it was fitted in.
Even though the X-Lite was a struggle to get installed and working, after this it was completely painless. It was working reliably, I didn’t have any failsafe when flying within 1km on 100mw (the R9M Lite Pro is capable of up to 1W) as expected. The module bay proved useful with a multi-protocol module to allow me to fly all of my Tiny Whoops with the same radio.
As for the Tango II, it appeared to have some teething problems such as when the remote was fully charged or unplugged from a computer, it would freeze up and require opening up the transmitter to unplug and replug the battery in. Having flashed it to the latest beta firmware, all of these issues appear to be resolved. The support from TBS with any issues as always has been excellent, and they make a clear effort to resolve any issues almost straight away.
Personally, I prefer the Tango II. I miss the ability to use the module bay, as well as possibly missing out on some range when comparing the Tango’s 250mw output vs the R9M Lite Pro’s 1000mw, but the ease of use, price and more compact design made me make the switch. It seems more rugged, and I like the new switch style over the traditional style. I expected it to be more clear cut when deciding, but I would suggest trying to use both of them in person and get a feel for which you prefer the feel of in the hand, and weigh up which features you feel as if you can live without.
- Aug 2020 – review published
- Jan 2021 – updated info regarding multi-module support on Tango 2