If you’ve ever wanted to get a first-person view of a drone zipping through the air, the DJI new Avata lets you do just that with a pair of goggles wirelessly connected to its camera at the front.
This isn’t the Chinese drone maker’s first first-person view (FPV) drone, which literally gives you bird’s eye view of things while in flight.
However, the DJI Avata has made improvements over the first model, called the DJI FPV last year, and made this new drone into one of the most exciting consumer-friendly drones for beginners.
The main selling point here is capturing more dramatic video footage by flying low, making quick turns and passing through objects.
Last year’s FPV drone was heavy, which meant flying through obstacles was often a challenge. The exposed propellers also had a higher chance of being damaged if you crashed, which was common for FPV drones.
Now, DJI has corrected those negatives with the new DJI Avata. The new drone is about the same size as the Mini 3 Pro and fits right into a small backpack.
It also has an easily replaceable propeller guard, allowing me to fly the drone indoors without worrying about crashing into furniture, for example.
The other improvement is the weight and size of the goggles. DJI has shrunk them and made the new Goggles 2 comfortable to wear for long periods.
Since the drone can stay in the air for close to 13 minutes on average during my test flights, being comfortable with the goggles while flying is a top consideration here.
That said, I wish the goggles had better padding as the sides rubbed into my fat cheeks. Good, too, if the battery pack can be hooked onto the headstrap as well.
If you are worried about wearing your spectacles with the goggles, there are built-in dioptres to correct your vision.
I have both long and short-sightedness, and the goggles can correct both eyes to give me a clear Full HD video feed which makes flying the drone much safer. Go down to the shops to test out the goggles first to ensure they are suitable for you.
What I like is that DJI’s proprietary communication protocol allows a strong connection between the goggles, controller and the drone. I didn’t get any video dropouts during my tests, so I didn’t lose sight of the flight and crash into anything.
The drone also comes with a motion controller that uses a gyroscope to control the drone. Think of it as a joystick that you can can use to easily glide the Avata drone through the air like in a computer game.
It’s excellent for beginners. Just squeeze the trigger and off the drone goes. If you do want some virtual training before flying the actual drone, you can even download the DJI Virtual Flight app to get some virtual flying under your belt first.
More seasoned flyers might opt for a separate remote controller, which offers a more precise flying experience with close control. The antennas on the controller provide a much stronger connection to the drone too.
That said, I find the motion controller more fun. I will use the standard remote controller for professional work but just to cruise through the sky? The joystick, please.
What about the quality of the videos from the drone? The DJI Avata’s camera is impressive with good light in the day, This is especially with its ultrawide-angle lens and 48-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor.
It can record 4K video at 60 frames per second with electronic stabilisation, giving users outstanding quality for post-editing work.
For more serious videos, you might want to get a set of Neutral Density filters to blur out fast moving objects to create a more natural looking video footage.
Unlike most drones, the Avata gimbal can only point and move in vertical orientation. The night image quality is nothing to write home about, either.
To be fair, these are not the most important features on this particular drone, unlike the pro-range Mavic 3, Air 2s or even the Mini 3 Pro that are used to capture cinematic video footage. Good news is, stabilisation is achieved electronically and the videos from the new drone look very stable.
There are a few design problems that DJI might want to improve on the Avata. For starters, it has placed the USB port and MicroSD card slot right inside the propeller guard duct, which make them hard to reach for even the daintiest of hands.
The battery is also held on by two plastic clasps that don’t give me confidence. Would the battery fall out in a clash? I didn’t test that out, fortunately.
DJI should also rethink how the goggles are charged. They can’t be paired with my battery pack because the on/off button is on the battery, not the goggles, which doesn’t make sense.
You’d want a way to easily juice up the ultra-clear and bright screens inside the goggles, after all, since they suck up battery quickly.
Finally, if you’re in Singapore, keep in mind that the new DJI drone needs to be registered with the local authorities before you fly. Its 410g weight requires this.
The DJI Avata is going for S$1,879 for the whole package with the motion controller and DJI Goggles 2. You can also just buy the drone alone at S$799, if you already own the original DJI FPV drone.
To be sure, the DJI Avata is not cheap. However, it offers an FPV drone flying experience without the steep learning curve of flying traditional models such as a CineWhoop.