GoPro Beats DJI In Cheap, Foldable, Easy-To-Use Drone Race
After a six month delay, GoPro has finally revealed last week its long-awaited Karma drone.
Promised to be “so much more than a drone” by GoPro’s founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman, Karma’s design addresses four of the most annoying problems of its direct competitor, the DJI Phantom 4, regarding portability, versatility, simplicity and price.
I asked DJI to comment after Karma’s launch and Adam Lisberg, its corporate communications director, answered that “DJI welcomes all competitors who try to match our unparalleled experience in unmanned aerial flight and handheld stabilization technology.”
Well, let’s compare them!
Portability: Karma folds compact into a backpack
Despite being much smaller than its predecessors, the DJI Phantom 4 takes more space than the Karma, and more than twice the volume once GoPro’s drone is folded for transport.
The Karma also comes standard with a backpack – an extra $200 for DJI’s – that holds the drone, the controller, the stabilizing mount Karma Grip (a gimbal attached to the head of the drone), the camera and a charger.
For its part, the Phantom 4 is too bulky to easily transport it on a backpack.
The Karma drone also comes with the battery-powered Karma Grip, a stabilizer that controls the camera, for hand-held use, but that also can be attached to any GoPro compatible accessories for hands-free operation or, attached to the head of the drone.
Available separately, DJI’s grip Osmo, which comes with an integrated 4K camera, would cost an extra $560.
Simple: Ready to fly in seconds
True to its word, the GoPro Karma is easy to use. Just unfold the propeller arms and the landing gear, and it’s ready to fly using the remote control, that looks like a video game controller with a built-in display.
Whereas the Phantom 4 requires a smartphone or a tablet to be attached to its remote in order to fly the drone.
Cheaper: Almost half the price of DJI’s Phantom 4
Even including the price of GoPro’s latest Hero 5 4K action camera, the Karma kit at $1099 is slightly less than what DJI’s Phantom 4 would cost you, at almost $1,200.
But to be fair, there are two key features that I found were missing in GoPro’s drone: collision avoidance and a “follow me” mode that would track the user on the move.
GoPro’s Woodman says that he didn’t find these advanced features necessary, which I totally disagree: I just can’t see myself controlling the drone while going down hill on my snowboard.
This is why, I can’t recommend GoPro’s drone just yet. Although, I’m sure they will add these advanced features on the next iteration of Karma or simply add another more capable drone to their lineup.
Mavic: DJI’s response to Karma
China-based DJI is also planning to unveil its next generation drone, the Mavic, at an event in New York on Tuesday.
According to information and images that “accidentally” leaked on DJI’s website for its upcoming drone, the Mavic will also be a foldable drone and could be a serious challenger to GoPro’s Karma, especially if it’s as compact and cheap as its direct competitor, and if it includes the collision avoidance and the “follow me” features, already available on the Phantom 4.
Just a few more hours to go!