It’s been a big week in the consumer drone market. Two exciting launches have helped reinvigorate interest in a sector where – at least since the release of the DJI Phantom 4 and Yuneec Typhoon H – things at the top of the spectrum have become a foregone conclusion.
It’s about time DJI and Yuneec had some worthy challengers at the top end. This week two have emerged from opposite levels of obscurity. Parrot’s new drone, the Disco, was initially unveiled at CES earlier this year to plenty of excitement – it’s been a matter of time until it hit the shelves. But the PowerEgg, from PowerVision, although expected, comes from a company with no prior history of putting together drones for the consumer market. So how do these two drones compare? And how will they stack up against the established contenders?…
Both look set to shake things up for a number of reasons. The first is simply design. The PowerEgg and Parrot’s Disco drone are approaching aerial photography from a totally different angle to industry leaders DJI.
The Disco is a fixed-wing plane powered by a single prop, while the PowerEgg folds up into what looks like a cross between a fortune teller’s orb and an egg from Alien vs Predator. The Disco’s fixed-wing form make it lightweight and extremely efficient in the air, giving it a top speed of 50mph and over 45 minutes of flight time. PowerEgg looks like nothing else on the consumer market, which is perhaps a selling point in itself. But the fact that it can be neatly tucked up into an egg shape should make it less hassle to carry around than its competitors.
Powervision wanted to create a beautiful yet functional design for the PowerEgg. We think the oval shape is not only clean and pure but also has the structural and functional benefits. This simple yet vital design means that this is more than a flying robot, it’s a work of art.” – CEO Wally Zheng
A nice design point for Parrot – The Disco takes off with a simple throw into the air, before climbing to a preset altitude and circling while it awaits further instructions.
Both the Disco and the PowerEgg come with a range ready to compete with the players at the top of the market. The PowerEgg can deliver real-time video transmission from up to 3.1 miles (5km) away – on top of this, the images sent back to your monitor are in HD.
Parrot’s new Skycontroller 2 comes with an XS-format Wi-Fi MIMO remote control, which offers a not too shabby 1.2-mile range.
As long as flying beyond the line of sight remains against the rules, these drones are able to take you right up to the edge.
This is maybe where the Disco falls short of the existing competition and the new PowerEgg – It has a built-in 1080p Full HD, 14-megapixel wide-angle lens camera, which comes with full stabilization, but doesn’t have the picture quality of some of its rivals. The PowerEgg on the other hand, has an integrated 4K UHD camera that can produce professional-grade photographs and videos with panoramic 360-degree views on a 3-axis gimbal.
These are compared to the Phantom 4 and the Typhoon H, which both include non-detachable 4K, 12 MP cameras connected to three-axis gimbals.
From an aerial photography perspective, if you’re willing to sacrifice image quality for flight time and speed, the Disco is for you – but it looks as though the fabled package of all three isn’t here yet.
In its compact egg shape, the PowerEgg seems designed to be durable in transit. But what it’s like in the air or when it’s inevitably involved in a crash, we can only speculate. The Disco, on the other hand, appears to have been built with potential accidents in mind. The wings are crafted out of expanded polypropylene, and are designed to snap off on impact, leaving just the rugged central unit. These wings can be easily repaired, but Parrot also has plans to sell spares for what we expect will be a fairly cheap price. In short, the Disco is a top-end drone that you can crash into trees over and over again. This makes up for its lack of obstacle avoidance
In short, the Disco is a top-end drone that you can crash into trees over and over again. This makes up for its lack of obstacle avoidance tech, and means you’re unlikely to be left infuriated when your piloting skills let you down. As far as we can see, DJI’s Phantom 4 and Yuneec’s Typhoon H, although both fitted with obstacle avoidance tech, wouldn’t handle impact anywhere near as well as the Disco.
At $1288, the PowerEgg is cleverly priced above the DJI Phantom 4 ($1199) but below the Yuneec Typhoon H ($1299). Parrot’s Disco drone will be available for $1299 on the company’s website in September. With the prices so close, clearly the two main contenders at the top of the consumer market have some new competition.