It’s been quite the season for drone enthusiasts, with not one but two reasonably priced folding drones you can stash in a backpack arriving this month alone.
Last week saw the release of the much-anticipated GoPro Karma. Not to be out-droned, market leader DJI announced the Mavic Pro, which folds up into a cute little rectangle.
Since DJI the latest to this party, we’ll start there. It’s got the features you’d expect from DJI, including a 4K camera stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal and the company’s handy automated flight features like collision-avoidance, TapFly, and precision hovering. You can even control this whirlybird with gestures and snap hands-free selfies as it hovers overhead. Flight time is 27 minutes, and can exceed 40 mph in “Sport” mode.
You can get the Mavic Pro on October 15 for $749. Bundling it with DJI’s controller brings the cost to $999, but you can use your smartphone to steer if you like. Go all in with the controller, spare batteries, a bag, and other accessories and you’ll spend $1,299.
Though it’s compact–about the size of the GoPro Karma by the looks of it–the Mavic Pro still too heavy to fly without registering it with the feds. The FAA insists on knowing about any drone heavier than 0.55 pounds, and the Mavic weighs nearly three times that. Still, it’s pretty light!
Everyone expected GoPro to wade into the pool this year, and it pretty much did a cannonball with the $800 Karma. Its key features include a stabilizing camera arm. The arm detaches, and since you can snap your GoPro onto it, the arm transforms into a hand-held stabilized video grip. However, just weeks before the Karma was announced, DJI released its own stabilizing camera mount called Osmo. If you were scratching your head at the Osmo, once you saw the Karma’s detachable arm, it all made sense.
Another unique feature of the Karma drone is the fact that its propeller arms fold inward, making the aircraft small enough to slide into a small backpack. Last week, that foldability was a novel trait. This week, a tote-bag-friendly form factor is suddenly table stakes.