Friday, May 25, 2018

 

The DJI Mavic Air is the pocketable drone for 2018 that artfully flies the middle ground between the more basic DJI Spark and the steeply DJI Mavic Pro price.

What makes the DJI Mavic Air special? It’s a foldable drone that can record 4K video, 12MP photos and stitch together 32-megapixel panorama photos.

It’s the world smallest drone with a 3-axis gimbal, 7 camera vision system and 3 direction sensing. You’re going to have a harder time trying to crash this drone.

The DJI Mavic Air battery life provides 21 minutes of flight time and it can travel as far as 2.5 miles from you. How fast in the DJI Mavic Air? It can fly 42.5mph in sport move, according to DJI at today’s press conference. It can also take off at 16,404ft above sea level, you know, just in case you’re on a mountain.

The ‘Goldilocks’ of drones for 2018.

In addition to its 4K camera resolution and 12MP photos, the Mavic Air captures HDR pictures to preserve more highlight and low light details. That’s really important for horizon photos, especially during sunrise and sunset.

The 4K stabilized video records at 30 frames per second (fps) with a maximum bitrate of 100Mbps, making it the highest quality video out of any DJI consumer drone. Slow motion video is also a part of the Mavic Air, recording 1080p slow-motion video at 120fps.

There will be 8GB of internal storage, just in case you forget your much bigger microSD card. Everyone has been in that situation with a camera. The new remote control is more portable than ever in order to better fit in your pocket. With the DJI Mavic Air, everything is about being tucked away in a jacket.

Worrying about getting your keeping up with your subject? ActiveTrack will let you tap on your phone screen for precisely following a subject. QuickShot is meant to the the hassle-free way of capturing hassle clips at a fast clip. Smart Capture expands DJI’s gesture system on the new drone.

APAS Advance Pilot Assistance Systems will help you not only avoid obstacles, but circumnavigate them. DJI demonstrated pushing forward on the control stick and having the drone gain elevation over a small tree. The drone operator didn’t do anything but push forward, yet the drone didn’t run into the object or, like previous drones did, it didn’t stop in place. It’s a serious obstacles avoidance upgrade.

4K video makes the DJI Mavic Air superior to last year’s Spark, which topped out at a Full HD 1080p resolution. It’s the reason a lot of people said, “I’d get the Spark for its cheap price, but…” With high-bitrate 4K, that excuse isn’t as valid with the Mavic Air.

DJI looks to do more than just give us another small, foldable drone bumped up to 4K video, however. It’s going to blend the Spark and Mavic Pro features just enough to be the ‘Goldilocks’ of drones for 2018.

DJI Mavic Air release date

The DJI Mavic Air launch event was January 23 in New York. But we do now have the official release date information.

The actual Mavic Air release date is January 28. It’ll start shipping to its first customers on that date. Pre-orders started today at the DJI website and authorized dealers, according to the company.

The popular drone company is also launching another product today, the DJI Osmo Mobile 2, a smartphone camera gimbal we just reviewed. It launched exclusively through the Apple Store today and gets a wider release in February. You’ll only have to wait until next week to get them both.

DJI Mavic Air price

The DJI Mavic Air price is $799 (£769, AU$1,299), the company announced at its official press conference. That’s a bit higher than everyone’s $699 estimate (and hopes). But the retail price includes the drone, battery, charger, remote controller, carrying case, two pairs of propeller guards and four pairs of propellers.

There is a version that costs $999 (£949, AU$1,599), but that’s for the premium Mavic Air Fly More Combo, which includes the drone, three batteries, a remote controller, a travel bag, two pairs of propeller guards, six pairs of propellers, a battery to power bank adapter and battery charging hub.

How does that compare to your other options? The DJI Mavic Pro costs $999 (£1,099 / AU$1,599), while the DJI Spark is now $399 – down from the $499 launch price (and £449 / AU$649) price tag, depending on where you shop and if you’re looking for accessories, like a highly recommended second battery.

The Mavic Air price is affordable enough and it could propel DJI – already the top drone company – even further into the mainstream.  That’s exactly what DJI wants to do in 2018.

Of course, while DJI Mavic Air has the best chance to grow the drone market at a cheap enough price, where is grows is a big question. Drone laws in the US and UK can be rather strict (and increasingly they’re being enforced with fines), so that may be the Mavic Air’s biggest hurdle.

Design

The DJI Mavic Air is extra portable thanks to the fact that new leaks point to a design that brings back rotors attached to foldable arms.

Foldable arms were the highlight of the Mavic Pro, a feature we missed on the smaller Spark. The arms on the Spark were deemed small enough not to need folding (we still would’ve liked to have it become even more compact, though).

The Mavic Air, when folded, appears to be small enough to fit into a small sling bag. Extending  the four arms (with four landing gear legs) outward appears to be a little easier than its bigger Pro counterpart, too. The DJI Mavic Air colors: white, black and red.

DJI Mavic Air battery life

What’s the catch? Well, the DJI Mavic Air battery life is shorter than the Pro, with a still-impressive 21-minute fly time.

That’s okay for most people. The Mavic Pro can last 27 minutes, while the even more expensive Pro Platinum can hold 30 minutes of battery power. But you pay through the nose for those few extra minutes. The Spark lasts just 16 minutes. That’s not enough for a lot of people.

The DJI Mavic Air again touches on another sweet spot with 21 minutes of battery life, especially if you’re willing to carry a spare for 42 minutes total.

4K video, 32MP photos and sensors

The 4K-capable camera of the DJI Mavic Air remains on the front and has that 3-way gimbal to outmaneuver the 2-way camera stabilization of the Spark.

32MP photos are possible, but don’t get too hyped over this large number. That’s for stitched-together panoramic photos – still impressive. Your drone selfies and HDR drone photos will be 12MP.

Its obstacle-avoidance sensors on the front, bottom, and back of the drone and gesture controls like the Spark make it the better choice than even its Pro counterpart. You have the option to fly it without using a controller – but we’ve always found the controller to be best.

We’ll have more on the DJI Mavic Air with our hands on review and a full review of the drone before it goes on sale on January 28.

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