The DJI Avata is a nimble cinewhoop drone for FPV novices

Cinewhoop drones are all the rage right now, as they can dive, spin and dash through unreachable locations to capture spectacular footage. DJI jumped on this trend with the Avata, an FPV drone that’s a far cry from the company’s fast DJI model, which is actually called FPV. Instead, the Avata is more about maneuverability and has prop guards that make it safe to fly around people.

It is available with the new Goggles 2, which is smaller and lighter than the Goggles V2 that comes with the DJI FPV drone. You can also get it with an updated motion controller that lets you control the Avata by wiggling your wrists.

The system could help drone users get into the world of FPV and cinewhoop, but it doesn’t come cheap at $1,388 with Goggles 2 and motion controller. To find out how it compares to FPV and other drones, I enlisted my drone pilot friend, Samuel, to test it in a variety of challenging scenarios.

Body

The Avata doesn’t look like any of DJI’s other consumer drones. To fly indoors, around people, or in tight spaces, it features propeller guards and a small 7″ tall, 3.1″ tall body. At 410 grams it is much lighter than the FPV but slightly heavier than the Mini 3 Pro at 249 grams. As such it requires registration or a license in Europe, the US and many other countries.

The batteries use a flexible connector designed to limit accidental damage. DJI claims up to 18 minutes of flight time, but we’ve generally got around 10-12 minutes or even less when flying it extremely fast. That’s still good for an FPV drone (most are under 10 minutes), but DJI should be a bit more realistic in its marketing.

The Avata’s battery charges in about 45 minutes, and you can get two additional batteries and a charger with the Fly More kit for $279. Samuel stated that if he bought one for his camera shop, he would get at least six batteries.

DJI Avata FPV drone gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

I would also buy the largest microSD cards possible, as the slot underneath is extremely awkward to access – especially when removing a card. The USB-C port for transferring and charging is just as difficult to reach. DJI usually excels at these kinds of features, but frankly, those are serious design flaws. On the plus side, the Avata has 20GB of internal storage that can serve in a pinch.

Below that are two time-of-flight sensors that can detect and map ground obstacles. The Avata doesn’t have any forward-facing sensors, however, so its main defenses are its support protection and rugged design.

The Avata Pro View Combo comes with the DJI Motion Controller as the only way to fly the drone. You can also use the FPV Remote Controller 2, but it’s sold separately for $200.

Also included in this pack are the new Goggles 2 – not to be confused with the Goggles V2. They are smaller and lighter than the latter and use Micro-LED instead of OLED panels with a resolution of 1080p for each eye compared to 810p on Goggles V2. You can use the V2 with Avata and FPV, but the Goggles 2 only work with Avata.

Gallery: DJI Avata FPV drone image gallery | 25 photos


The extra sharpness and small size are nice, but you can’t wear glasses under the Goggles 2. Instead, they have built-in diopters to correct your eyesight. If you suffer from astigmatism, DJI includes lens attachments that you can return to have your prescription made.

Samuel wasn’t crazy about diopters. While they gave him a clear view, he often had to take off the headset to see the drone, which meant putting his glasses back on. He found the Goggles V2 easier as he can wear his glasses underneath.

With the Goggles 2, you can fly the Avata without a cell phone as they have a mini version of the DJI Fly app built-in. If you want to give others a view, you can connect a smartphone via the USB-C port on the side. The Goggles 2 control the Avata via DJI’s Ocusync O3, delivering a 50Mbps video feed from up to 10km away. However, we noticed that the Goggles V2 delivered a stronger feed over a longer distance, likely due to the larger antennas.

perfomance

DJI Avata FPV drone gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

The Avata is great to fly, but it’s not as fast as some FPV drones. In manual mode, it tops out at 60 MPH, well below the 87 MPH of DJI’s FPV. And that’s in manual mode – Sport and Normal modes are considerably slower at 31 MPH and 18 MPH respectively.

However, it has excellent maneuverability, allowing you to fly to places you would never take any other drone. We’ve worn it around handball players during practice, between our legs, through the small gap in a shield, around the roof of a castle and around people and breakables inside. It’s tough too. We’ve had a number of crashes that would have killed an open prop drone. It can also ricochet off a person without harming them.

Considering the Avata could be many people’s first FPV drone, selling it with the motion controller is a good idea – but not the only option. DJI is also said to be selling a bundle with the FPV Controller 2, which offers more precise control for advanced users. As it stands now, you’ll have to pay an additional $199 to get it.

The motion controller is easy to use – you just point it where you want to fly and pull the trigger to accelerate. Tilt the controller up and apply power to climb, and reverse for descents. A big button on top makes it hover, and the red button lets you take off and land.

DJI Avata FPV drone gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

However, it has some limitations. You can’t switch vertically or fly backwards with the motion controller, so you have to use a button to land. It also lacks precision, especially indoors. In fact, we found that without the GPS lock inside, the Avata was sometimes unflyable with the motion controller.

If you have some experience, the FPV Controller 2 is a better option. You can turn on manual mode to fly faster, fly low to the ground, and jab between trees or rooftops. Inside you can fly back and forth between rooms, objects and people exactly like you may have seen in some of those cool cinewhoop FPV videos.

Manual mode also allows for flips, jumps, climbs, hairpin turns, rolls and other tricks. Just remember that there are no sensor fuses. While the Avata drone is sturdy, it’s not unbreakable and could really hurt someone at 60 MPH. It’s also more unstable, so flying it requires serious skill. It’s a lot of fun though, as the speed and lack of safety precautions give you a real adrenaline rush that you don’t get from other drones.

video quality

Most so-called cinewhoop FPV drones use external cameras like the GoPro Hero Bones (or just stripped down GoPros), but the Avata has one built in. It uses the same 1/1.7-inch sensor as the new Action 3 camera, with 64 percent more area than the FPV.

Like the Action 3, it has regular, wide, and ultra-wide options with up to a 155-degree field of view. And in addition to the built-in gimbal and RockSteady smoothing, it has the HorizonView option to keep things level even when the drone is heavily tilted.

https://www.engadget.com/dji-avata-fpv-drone-review-133020277.html?src=rss The DJI Avata is a nimble cinewhoop drone for FPV novices

Russell Falcon

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