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DJI Mavic Air Review:The tiny, 4K Drone crushes other DJI drones

  2018-02-03

introduce:DJI Mavic Air Review:The tiny, 4K Drone crushes other DJI drones Every consumer product goes through three stages of life. It’s invented; it’s improved and adjusted; and, finally, it becomes a commodity. There’s not a lot of innovation anymore in mic

DJI Mavic Air Review:The tiny, 4K Drone crushes other DJI drones
DJI Mavic Air Review:The tiny, 4K drone crushes other DJI drones
Every consumer product goes through three stages of life. It’s invented; it’s improved and adjusted; and, finally, it becomes a commodity. There’s not a lot of innovation anymore in microwave ovens, ceiling fans, or toilets — they’ve pretty much stopped morphing. They’ve reached the third stage, their ultimate incarnations.
Drones, love ‘em or hate ‘em, are still in the second stage: They’re rapidly changing direction, gaining features, finding out what they want to be. It’s an exciting period in this category’s life, because new models come out fast, each better and more interesting than the last.
For proof, just look at the Chinese company DJI, the 800-pound gorilla of drones. It releases a new drone or two every single year.
They’ve just introduced a drone called the Mavic Air ($800). It’s so small and smart, it makes you wonder why anyone would buy the 2016 Mavic Pro, which costs $200 more — but it’s not what you’d call perfect.
Meet the Air
The 15-ounce Mavic Air is small — and that’s huge. It folds up for travel: its four arms collapse against the body to make the whole thing small enough to fit into a coat pocket, about 6.5 inches by 3.5 inches by 2 inches. (The top two arms swing horizontally, as you’d expect. The bottom two, though, are hinged in two dimensions: They fold downward and inward, and you have to remember to do those before you do the upper arms. You’ll figure it out.)
Of course, there are plenty of small drones — but not in this league. The Mavic Air, for example, can capture gorgeous 4K video. And its camera is on a three-axis gimbal for stabilization; the video looks like it was shot from a tripod even when the drone was being buffeted by 20 mph winds, as you can see in the video above.
The box includes the drone, a remote control (it uses your smartphone as its screen), a battery, a charger, a set of propeller guards for indoor flying, and a spare set of propellers (in crashes, they’re the first to go).
The Mavic Air is also smarter than any sub-$1,000 drone DJI has ever made. It has depth-sensing cameras on three sides — forward, down, and backward (that’s new) — so that it can avoid collisions automatically in those directions.
Like most drones, this one has an automatic Return to Home feature that kicks in whenever the battery is getting low or if it loses the signal with the remote control. (You can also call it home with one button press whenever you’re just feeling anxious.) Thanks to the cameras underneath, this thing lands exactly where it took off — within a few inches.
The competitive landscape
The Mavic Air’s primary competition comes from two other DJI drones. Here’s the rundown:
Mavic Pro (2016 model, $1,000). Twice the size of the Air. Folding arms. 4K video. “27 minutes” of flight per charge (in the real world, 22 minutes). Front and bottom collision avoidance. Remote control included with built-in screen (no phone necessary). Very few palm control gestures (see below).
Mavic Air (2018 model, $800 — the new one). Folds up. 4K video. “21 minutes” per charge (more like 18). Front, bottom, and back collision avoidance. Remote control folds up tiny — even the joysticks unscrew and store inside the body, for even smaller packing. Has the most palm gestures of the three drones — and the most reliable palm gestures. 8 GB of internal storage for video and stills, so you can still record if you don’t have a micro SD card on you. Another $200 buys you a “Fly More” kit that includes two extra batteries, an ingenious folding four-battery charger, and even more spare props.
Spark (2017 model, $400). The smallest body of all, but its arms don’t fold, so it winds up being bigger for travel. 1080p video. “18 minutes” per charge (more like 11). Front and bottom collision avoidance. Remote control is an extra purchase ($120); uses your phone as a screen. Responds to hand gestures, but not reliably.

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