Let’s get something out of the way first. We at PBM weren’t the biggest fans of the original Etha. Don’t get us wrong it wasn’t a bad marker but there were always better options available despite the fanboys recommending it to every new player for the brand alone. Has Eclipse managed to impress us more with it’s new foray into the entry level and does it justify it’s sizeable price hike?
At this point do we really need to tell anyone that Planet Eclipse has the best packaging in the business? Gone is the bulky plastic case from the Etha to be replaced with a much more pleasing fabric and foam number. Inside you find all the goodies you should have come to expect, individually bagged and labelled spares, a decent set of allen keys, barrel sock, lube, a .689 shaft barrel, and a full colour, glossy and fully detailed printed manual. Please take note other manufacturers, the manual shouldn’t be a bonus and we are sick of single page A4 “quick starts” or manual Cd’s. Planet Eclipse is still setting the standard here.
As for the marker itself it feels great. Do not let the mostly polymer construction put you off, the gun feels solid and well built in the hand. It is very long in body with lots of space between the trigger guard and battery housing front grip. This allows for very comfortable ergonomics and a spacious, balanced sensation in use. A nice idea is that the LED’s for board user feedback are mounted on both sides of the marker high on the frame. Eclipse has thought to shroud these so they are only visible from behind the marker which is a very nice touch. Under the hood Eclipse has chosen to use the proven and very well received gamma core as the engine for the marker. We have a field test to detail shot quality and efficiency and anyone who has used the excellent Gtek series will immediately feel at home here. It shoots pretty much identically. Which is to say every time regardless of conditions, cleaning, or poor board setup. It is a very robust design and ideally suited to its task here in the Etha while still being perfectly sufficient to compete with the high end in regards to consistency and efficiency. In fact our review sample marker went to Greece and was used all weekend while missing a detent. This was with clear paint and the field tester did not even notice which is a testament to the engine.
The sad thing about the Etha 2 is that the majority of users will never actually realise how good the design truly is. It isn’t until you start to disassemble that all becomes clear with multiple clever tweaks to standard marker design which should result in the most reliable electronic paintball marker ever. This coupled with the excellent Eclipse at event tech support means many will never have to open an Etha 2.
Removing the two frame bolts allows the user to hinge apart the frame from the body of the marker guided by an interlocking tab at the front of the frame not unlike that seen on modern loaders. All the electronics remain in the frame and if you have removed the bolt you are largely left with a hollow upper. There are no wires, no contacts between the two. Even the eyes remain in the frame soldered to the rear of the board which spans the frame lengthways from the front grip to the rear of the trigger guard. The eye covers hold the key to this design with reflecting channels incorporated to allow the remotely located eyes to perform their traditional function. Eyes are a weak point in modern marker design especially when exposed to paint and these configurations means the eyes should last the lifetime of the marker. Other manufacturers have implemented eye protection systems but this is the best we have seen to date. Another place markers have failed in the past is at the battery contacts or harness. Once again Eclipse has considered this with spring leaf contacts mounted on the underside of the board directly above the front grip battery chamber. This means the battery can only be inserted correctly with no excess force placed on the contacts reducing wear. To remove the regulator from the gun is another simple job. Removing the tooless grips and then another two bolts to remove the excellent new POPS and the regulator comes out with it. Connecting the regulator to the solenoid is a very robust and reversible air transfer tube which simply push fits at each end. This just leaves the board and solenoid left in the frame and the end user would do well to leave these alone so a full service strip down requires a mammoth four bolts all of which require the same Allen key! Putting it all back together is a breeze and the tab at the front of the marker ensures that the frame and body line up perfectly first time reducing wear and the probability of leaks from the gasket between the solenoid and body air chamber. It is all so simple and user friendly and perfect for the target audience.
Nothing is perfect but the Etha 2 does come damn close. In fact to find faults we had to get extremely subjective. The looks of the marker are not to our tastes and would have preferred a smoother, less angular body design. That said the fancier HDE model was far more pleasing to us than the plain black we had tinkered with previously. Even then though we had to concede it isn’t the sleekest or sexiest of shooters. The lack of options to add a screen as an upgrade may put off others. Finally the trigger while perfectly adequate and with plenty of adjustment isn’t the best on the market as stock triggers go. Again that is subjective and really nit picking to find faults.
The Etha2 trigger is perfectly adequate and has plenty of adjustment for you to fiddle around to what suits you personally, made from high quality aluminium, it’s a leaf spring return with Micro-switch and plated pin pivot.
The Etha2 will set itself apart from the pack due to the fact that the whole system is user friendly and above all reliable, couple this with Eclipse’s excellent tech service and advice, you won’t have any issues with the gun failing.
The HDE Earth finish is tough and looks the part, perfect for scenario play and just at home on the tournament field, not sold on the Black finish for us but the Black Earth (pictured above) is a nice option.
The tooless clamshell grips are great, allowing access to the innards with ease, inside the grips you will find a handy LED guide for setting your fire modes. Comfortable and finished well.
Looks wise it may not turn many heads, but this little beast isn’t built for looks alone, currently a limited set of colour ways, HDE Earth as pictured opposite is our favourite, followed by the HDE Earth and Black and standard all over black. With woodsball in mind this marker will blend in well.
The Etha2 feels balanced and comfortable to hold, the tool-less clamshell grips are Dual density with a Grip Pitch of 183mm. Light and easy to switch hands, overall the gun feels solid and well built. The body is fairly long with lots of space between the trigger guard and battery housing front grip.
The body is made from a Glass Reinforced Nylon Composite the 2 piece barrel is lightweight Aluminium the eye covers, feedneck and frame are also constructed of strong Glass Reinforced Nylon Composite. A total weight of 997g (inc. Barrel, Battery, Feed, POPS) that’s just under 2.2lb for those that need to know
With this Gamma core Spool valve marker you will get some great efficiency and it shot the bottle dry with only the last 100 of so shots showing substantial drop off, a standard 1.1 litre 3K fill is going to give you around 8 pots of paint through the barrel at full ramp.
All the usual extras you would expect to find are provided in the box.
BOX CONTENTS: Set of keys in eclipse holder, Planet Eclipse barrel sock, tube of lube, glossy manual, big pack of O-rings.
We love the Etha 2 and would go so far as to compare it in significance of design to the iconic and game changing Ego 5. Like the Ego 5 it brings together excellent ideas from across the industry, improves upon them and then incorporates them all into one platform resulting in something that is truly more than the sum of its’ parts. If like us you nerd out over design then you will love this, and for everyone else who just wants something fuss free to throw in the bag and get effortless performance every time there is simply nothing better. The best package under £450.