I harbor a particular fondness for camera monitors; the diminutive 3” LCD screens on cameras no longer suffice once you become accustomed to the superior quality of a field monitor. Granted, using a field monitor isn't always practical, especially in instances when you must shoot while hand-holding your camera. However, on most other occasions, relying on a camera monitor is quite feasible.
Some monitors take this a step further by incorporating additional features, such as transmitting the camera view to another monitor or receiving the view from a monitor functioning as a transmitter. Enter the Hollyland Mars M1 Enhanced—a versatile, 'All in One' TX, RX, and Monitor. In its role as a standalone camera monitor, it offers all the goodies that you expect from a good monitor: Waveforms, LUTs, vectorscope, Zebra pattern, various aspect marks, Anamorphic De-squeeze, Image flip, crosshatch and more. etc.
In addition, it possesses the capability to transmit signals to other compatible monitors, as well as to your iOS or Android mobile device. Conversely, it can receive signals from a transmitter connected to your camera.
Full Disclosure: This is not a sponsored review, and no money were exchanged. Hollyland contacted me and send me a Mars M1 Enhanced to get my honest opinion and feedback. They haven't seen the review before I published.
Before delving into my experiences with this monitor, let's first explore the primary features of the Mars M1 Enhanced.
- Wirelessly Monitoring video up to 450' / 137m
- Transmitter & Receiver Mode Switching
- Max 2 minutes Record/Playback
- 5.5" Touchscreen 1920 x 1080 Display
- Up to 4K30 Video SDI Input, HDMI In/Out
- Presets & USB-C 3D LUT Import
- High 1000 cd/m² Brightness
- Low 0.08s Latency, Smart Channel Scan
- DC Power Input & Output
- Built-In L-Series Battery Plate
The first impression when I turn on the monitor is impressive. It boots fast, the image is crisp and the colors are realistic. It is a 5.5" Touchscreen 1920 x 1080 Display with a max-brightness of 1000 nits. Pixel density is 403 ppi.
1000 nits is bright enough even under direct sunlight. Sure, more nits would be great but I don't complain. If you are serious about using any monitor outdoors frequently, I always recommend using a Monitor hood anyway, and Hollyland produces one for the Mars M1 and it only costs $25.
The touch screen of the M1 Enhanced is very responsive, it registered my touches and swipes accurately. I found the colors also very accurate. Hollyland claims that each monitor undergoes a color calibration process during manufacturing, but you can also do your own RGB fine-tuning on the device.
What’s in the Box?
The Mars M1 Enhanced box comes with the following items:
- Hollyland Mars M1 Enhanced 5.5" Wireless Transceiver Monitor
- 2 x Capsule Antenna
- Tempered Glass Screen Protector
- USB-C Converter
- D-Tap to Locking DC Power Cable
- Limited 1-Year Manufacturer Warranty
Including a screen protector is a nice touch, I never use them with any of my devices such as phones, cameras, etc. but most will do. USB-C converter comes handy if you only have a USB-A type cables in-hand, and the D-tap to DC power cable turns your available D-tap batteries instantly into a powering option for this monitor.
The M1 Enhanced's capsule antennas remind me the ossicones' of a giraffe, what do you think :)
Connections and Ports
Mars M1 Enhanced accepts inputs up to 4K30 Video via SDI and HDMI In. The HDMI In and Out ports are on the left side of the monitor.
There is a USB-C port on the right side of the monitor for Interface Upgrades and Hollyland includes a USB-A to USB-C adapter in case you don’t have a compatible cable. There is also a 1/4-20″ threads mounting point and a headphone output for monitoring audio on the same side.
You can use an NP-F battery attached directly to the monitor body, a D-Tap battery connected via a cable or DC-In to power the M1 enhanced.
Batteries are great when you want to minimize the cables become mobile as much as possible, especially shooting outdoors, but in a studio environment my preference is the DC-in. It supplies continuous power to the monitor so you don't have to worry about battery life.
Using the included D-tap to DC power cable, I used my battery with D-tap output to power the M1 Enhance as seen below which is very convenient.
There are two mounting points on the M1 Enhanced, one at the bottom and one on side. This gives you flexibility to mount your monitor in various positions, and attach another accessory directly to the monitor, such as a wireless focus pull control unit. I used some monitors that also has a mounting point on the top but due to the antennas on top of the Mars M1 Enhanced, this doesn’t seem possible anyway.
On the back side, there is a DC-in, DC-out, and an SDI in port to connect more professional video equipment, making this a more versatile device.
The only button on the monitor, the ON/OFF button is also on the back of the camera. I wish this was on the top or side of the camera where it would be easier to find but not a big problem once you get used to its placement.
Now let’s talk about the wireless transmittance capabilities of this monitor. I don’t have a second Mars M1 Enhanced of any other Hollyland device that can connect with this device, but instead what I did was to transmit my camera screen to my mobile devices via the Mars M1. And then I can easily monitor, focus-pull or record the screen from the app to my mobile device.
The iOS version of the app which I used was easy to setup Once you installed the app, all you need to do is to connect to the WIFI network that the M1 Enhances creates, choose the device from the app and hit connect.
The best part is, the connection between the Mars M1 and your mobile device is extremely reliable and fast. My phone and the monitor connected almost instantly and the latency between two devices was minimal which is very critical in a production environment.
The Mars M1 Enhanced has a 150m / 450ft maximum LOS (Line of Sight) range, so in order to achieve transfer it this distance, the transmitter and the receiver devices should see each other. If the transmission line is blocked by an object, the distance was reduced to a few meters instead in my tests.
I have tested the connection in the parking lot of the office building I am working in, and managed to get a seamless connection up to ~50m which is the total length of the parking lot as long as the LOS was clear. I didn’t need to test it any further as realistically I can’t think of a situation where I will need to monitor my camera from farther than that.
I walked all the way to the brick wall at the background, and the connection was spotless when I am faced to the Mars m1 Enhanced. Hollyland advices to keep the monitor at least 1.7m high from the ground for best wireless performance.
The M1 Enhanced is capable to work under more complicated setups than this though: It allows you to transmit to mobile devices and receivers, and receive from transmitters such as the Mars 400S Pro or Mars 4K in the following configurations:
- One Mars M1 Enhanced TX can send signals to two other Mars M1 Enhanced set in RX mode
- One Mars M1 Enhanced TX can send signals to one other Mars M1 Enhanced set in RX mode and up to two devices running the HollyView app
- One Mars M1 Enhanced TX can send signals to four devices running the HollyView app
- One Mars M1 Enhanced TX can send signals to two other Hollyland Mars 400S Pro/Mars 300 Pro/Mars 4K RX units
- One Hollyland Mars 400S Pro/Mars 300 Pro/Mars 4K TX unit can send signals to one Mars M1 Enhanced set in RX mode and up to two devices running the HollyView app
The M1 Enhanced is not a recording monitor but it has a useful limited internal video recording & playback function where you can record its screen for up to 2 minutes for fast review. The recorded footage can’t be exported or saved in the device though.
On the other hand, the Hollyview app lets you record the screenshot of connected devices:
You can select from one of the fan modes: Auto and Mute. I have mostly used the monitor in Mute mode, and haven’t heard the fan noise in this mode, neither received any overheating issue during my review. In the auto mode, there is a possibility that your mic can pick the fan noise if they are placed very close.
Price and Availability
The Hollyland mars M2 Enhanced is available for purchasing from major retailers for $499 as a single unit (Amazon / B&H Photo) and Two-monitor kit for $979 ( B&H Photo)
I enjoyed using this Swiss army knife of a field monitor during my review because every function I tried worked reliably and quickly. The screen is crisp and color-accurate, and it gets bright enough under strong direct light. However, the main selling point of the Mars M1 Enhanced is its wireless features. It opens up numerous opportunities to enhance workflow efficiency, whether for follow-focus applications or remote monitoring. This benefit isn't limited to multi-person production crews but extends to solo content creators like myself.
Things I like:
- Fast and reliable wireless connections
- High quality screen
- Extensive list of monitoring functions
- Temporary recording and playback function
- Options to connect with multiple other Hollyland Mars devices and mobile devices.
- SDI Input
- Multiple powering options
- Included D-tap to DCI-in cable
Things that can be improved:
- Increased internal recording duration with permanent storage option
Check Also: Hollyland Mars M2 Enhanced Official Product Page