You’ve no doubt seen videos of FPV drones doing some insane aerial acrobatics. You can get some truly impressive shots with a drone, and with a first-person view of what the drone sees, you can do it with a lot more confidence. We had the opportunity to try out the latest drone to hit the market: the all-new DJI FPV Drone. This drone is DJI’s first ready-to-fly first-person drone. It’s packed to the brim with features that make it easily accessible to people with no experience whatsoever in drone flying, while not holding back for people that have a bit of flight time under their belt.
So is it living up to the hype?
The unboxing experience itself felt very premium. Opening the box up you are greeted with the striking sight of the FPV Goggles and the drone, both of which give off a futuristic vibe (the goggles reminded me of the Winter Soldier). Here’s a list of what you can expect when opening this puppy up:
- The Drone itself
- Intelligent Flight Battery
- FPV Goggles & battery
- The necessary cabling
- Spare propellers and control sticks
Once you’ve removed everything from the box, it’s a pretty quick setup before you’re off and flying. But hold your horses, if this is your first time flying this drone, or maybe flying a drone at all. DJI’s Virtual Flight App will allow you to practice flying in realistic, simulated scenarios before moving on to the real deal and we highly recommend this.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive into the exciting stuff!
The FPV Goggles V2 are a very similar design to the previous model, however, that “V2” isn’t just there for show. Featuring a 144 Hz refresh rate, 110-minute battery life, low latency video, 150° Field of View, and weighing in at only 420 grams, you'll feel deeply immersed in your flights.
Now with this sort of thing, there’s always the risk of motion sickness. The key factors that mitigate this are high refresh rates, low latency, and high FOV. Thankfully this headset addresses these points and more. I experienced no motion sickness, though someone with a little bit less experience with either FPV drones or VR might want to take it slow. If you experience any nausea just take a quick break to let it subside, it’s not worth it to just try and push through.
You have to plug your phone into the FPV Goggles for the initial setup, but after that, you’re free to fly without it. Although if you have someone with you (you should), you can plug your phone into the headset so they can see what the drone does too.
The controller has a more ergonomic design, looking more like a gamepad than previous versions. The biggest change though, no screen! Naturally, you’ll be viewing everything the drone sees through the goggles. This frees up a lot of real estate on the controller, meaning more spread-out buttons. It has the standard thumbsticks to control the movement of the drone, these feel precise and solid. The majority of the buttons are on the back of the controller, it didn’t take me long to learn the layout from memory. This is especially important here as it’s not as easy as just glancing down when you have goggles on your face. DJI has also gone to the extra effort of adding a bit of embossment to these buttons so you can tell what they do just from touch.
The drone itself has quite a unique look, almost droid-like, and features a new-from-DJI tri-blade design for the propellers. There's also another body covering with a bright green colour, this seems like it's for keeping up visibility when the drone gets further away. With front LEDs and customisable arm lights, you can make sure your drone will look as pretty as the video it captures. Speaking of which, the 4K/60FPS, super-wide FOV video looks stunning, with a bitrate of 120Mbps. DJI’s RockSteady Stabilization EIS tech makes the footage look buttery smooth, while 4x slow motion and image distortion correction combine with all of its other features to allow you to create smoother and more dramatic results. I got pretty close to 20 minutes of battery life on the drone. I was flicking between a few different modes, as well as taking off and landing a couple of times. The return to home feature initiates when the drone is on low battery. You can stop RTH to fly for a bit longer, but I'd advise against this, as if you do, the drone will just land in the closest safe location once it's decided its battery is critically low.
The advanced safety features make piloting this drone pretty comfortable. The auxiliary bottom light makes it easy to keep track of the drone, especially in low-light environments. The Return to Home feature means you can either automatically have the drone land where it took off from, or just return when its battery is low. The forward and downward obstacle sensors work an absolute treat, it can be easy to lose track of your surroundings when traveling at higher speeds and these sensors can save the day. The emergency brake and hover is another lifesaver of a feature, if you feel like you’ve gotten a bit too much speed, or just need to slow down, one tap of the controller makes the drone hold itself in place, giving you time to recalibrate.
There are also a few modes to pick from when flying.
This is all new from DJI, it allows you to get the dynamic look of FPV footage easily. It combines the liberty of manually flying, with the simplified controls of previous DJI drones.
This is the recommended mode to start with. It offers immersive flight with typical drone controls, along with all of DJI’s safety features.
M Mode offers complete control. It gives a true FPV flight experience. This mode allows you to customise the parameters and allows you to fly and film footage in a really unique and amazing way.
This drone is a wickedly cool piece of tech. It’s so easy to get straight into flying, while also allowing for some pretty hair-raising manoeuvres once you’ve built up enough confidence. I’m sure with a bit of time and practice you could create some truly marvelous footage. Even in the short time I had with the drone, and a fairly limited choice of filming locations (thank you level 3), I still felt like I ended up with some fairly cool shots. If you’re looking to create some awesome content, or just like to explore, the DJI FPV Drone is an awesome bit of gear for you. If you’re looking to get into flying drones, check out the huge DJI Store!