While FPV drone operation is still an incredible skill that requires reflexes, patience, and a lot of money for expensive drone gear, DJI Avata is making the elusive art of FPV drone flying a little more accessible to the masses.
DJI is on top of the world, both metaphorically and literally. Not only does the company absolutely dominate the drone market (despite the fees and restrictions caused by geopolitics), but it has also been quite successful in filling all the gaps in the drone category, from the needs of beginners to experienced FPV racers and even movie professionals. Plus, the company’s latest drone, the Avata, is literally a great flier for a fairly affordable budget of $629.
FPV drones are simply built differently than cinematic ones. They are made for speed, split-second reflexes, and are much more powerful than the average drone. This also makes them much more expensive (DJI’s FPV drone last year started at $1,299), but DJI is determined to democratize them. The Avata is the company’s flagship “consumer grade” FPV drone that is designed for hobbyists and experienced pilots alike. It’s fast, capable, and has an amazing camera, but it’s also heavy, tough, and built to take a few knocks.
Unlike cinematic drones, FPV drones are designed with a separate template. Since they focus more on flying forward than straight up, drones are designed with the fact that they are constantly leaning forward in mind. To this end, the Avata comes (like most FPV drones) with a front-mounted camera, rather than the bottom. The camera sits on a stabilizer, and the drone itself is modeled after the popular quadcopter format, though the Avata’s propellers do come with fairly large propeller guards to prevent permanent damage to the drone’s wings. This rugged construction adds to the Avata’s weight, bringing it to 410 grams (meaning you’ll need to register with the FAA before you fly it around the place).
The DJI Avata comes equipped with a 48-megapixel Type 1/1.7 sensor that is capable of delivering 4K shots at 60fps, or even shooting at 120fps but at a reduced resolution. The lens on the front features a 155-degree wide field of view that captures more than the human eye can see, sending all that footage with just 30ms delay to the drone’s headset so the “pilot” can react instantly when the drone crosses your path. The Avata comes with 18 minutes of flight time, which may not seem like much, but at those speeds, 18 minutes can see you cover a lot of distance. In fact, the Avata drone can transmit video to the glasses up to distances of 10 kilometers.
The drone, aside from the build and camera, is also a pretty impressive little beast. It comes with two sensors on the bottom that can help detect obstacles, allowing for low-altitude flight and also allowing it to detect when it’s over water (so you don’t accidentally land on it). The drone also comes with a stop and hover function that allows it to instantly brake in mid-air to avoid any chance of a head-on collision.
While capturing images, Avata’s RockSteady 2.0 and HorizonSteady capabilities help stabilize images and keep your horizon relatively, well, horizontal (preventing the video from tilting dramatically as the drone tilts). Just like its predecessor (the more expensive DJI FPV), the Avata offers 3 flight modes: Normal, Manual, and Sport. It’s compatible with DJI’s Goggles 2 headset and can even be controlled with the intuitive motion controller from the previous FPV drone. The drone alone starts at $629, though you won’t get a remote, goggles, or the proprietary motion controller at that price. For the full decorations, be prepared to fork out up to $1388, which includes all the bells and whistles. It’s still relatively cheaper than the DJI FPV, and far more capable than anything you can build in your own workshop…