Hands-On With A Foldable, Ultra Lightweight ‘Selfie Drone’

In the drone marketplace, Shenzhen-headquartered DJI is the undisputed king, but plenty of companies in the same town are gunning for its spot. These range from giants like Xiaomi to upstarts like Xiro and Simtoo. The latter recently launched through crowdfunding an ultra-portable drone named Moment that is meant to be an aerial selfie machine.

I have been testing the drone in Shenzhen and Los Angeles over the past week. And while it can capture selfies just fine — that’s such a superficial use of a device that can elevate up to 100 feet above ground (okay, maybe I just hate selfies…). A much better use is to fly it high above capturing the vast sky or tall buildings.

As you can see from the above photo, the Moment is very petite. It’s made entirely of plastic, weighs 400 grams and can be folded in half into the size of roughly a hardcover book. The weight includes the removable 2,900 mAh battery, which can keep the thing afloat for supposedly 15 minutes according to Simtoo (in my testing, I’d say the number is closer to 12).

The drone comes with a carrying case that can be shoved easily inside any backpack. And though the package comes with a dedicated DC input with a tiny charging brick for power, the drone can in fact be charged with a USB-C cable, which adds to the portability because we are probably under a year away from everyone having USB-C cables lying around in cars, offices, coffee shops, apartments.

The Moment is controlled via its companion app, which is already available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The app is a bit slow to start, but once it’s connected controlling the drone is easy with two onscreen joysticks overlaid on top of the real-time first-person-view (or is that first-drone-view?) footage captured by the Moment’s 12-megapixel camera. Simtoo says it can capture 4K footage, and the video sizes does back that up, but I found footage clarity to be good, not great. Below are some photo samples taken by the drone; video samples can be found in the YouTube video at the end of the article.

Much like images captured by a budget smartphone, the quality is mostly fine during the day — though colors and details do not compare to a high end 2017 phone. At night, the images are soft and full of digital noise.

Footage recorded can be viewed directly from the app. The drone has no internal storage, so users can either insert a MicroSD card that can store footage and thus be transferred anywhere later, or go without a card and record everything directly to the smartphone running the app.

Performance wise the Moment works mostly as advertised. It elevates with the press of a button and steering is easy, but slow. Hover stability is solid — in the video below you’ll see that I kepot it hovering about six feet off the ground as I took photos all around the drone.

However, because it’s such a lightweight drone and the engine is just an 1806 40-watt, so it struggled to take off when it got windy. That’s why all my photos are in relatively boring places like in the suburbs or at the park. I took it to La Jolla by the beautiful cove and it couldn’t fly due to the typical windy California beach weather. I think the drone will fare much better in Hong Kong, with all these skyscrapers blocking the wind.

The wifi chip inside the drone (to which your smartphone is connected) is also a bit buggy. Sometimes it’d take six or seven tries before I could connect. And the wifi range is just about 100 feet, so don’t expect to fly this thing too far.

The Moment drone is available on Indiegogo now for an early bird price of $200. After the campaign the product will apparently jump to $350. The campaign has already long surpassed its goal so mass production is underway.

See more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bensin/2017/09/28/hands-on-with-a-foldable-ultra-lightweight-selfie-drone/#4406f67873b9