Cinewhoop drones are all the rage right now because they can dive, twist, and accelerate through hard-to-reach places to produce spectacular footage. DJI jumped on this trend with the Openan FPV drone far removed from the company’s fast DJI model actually called the FPV. Instead, the Avata is more agility-focused and has propeller guards that allow it to fly safely around people.
It is available with the new 2 goggles which are smaller and lighter than the V2 goggles that come with the DJI FPV drone. You can also get it with an updated motion controller that lets you steer the Avata by moving your wrists.
The system could help drone users enter the world of FPV and cinewhoop, but it doesn’t come cheap at $1,388 with the Goggles 2 and Motion Controller. To find out how it compares to FPV and other drones, I enlisted my drone pilot friend Samuel to test it in a number of challenging scenarios.
The Avata is unlike any of DJI’s other consumer drones. For flying indoors, around people, or in tight spaces, it features accessory guards and a small body that measures 7 inches square by 3.1 inches high. At 410 grams it is much lighter than the FPV, but a bit heavier than the 249 gram Mini 3 Pro. As such, it requires registration or licensing in Europe, the United States and many other countries.
The batteries use a flexible connector designed to limit damage in the event of a collision. DJI claims up to 18 minutes of flight time, but we usually get around 10-12 minutes, or even less if we fly it extremely fast. It’s still fine for an FPV drone (most are under 10 minutes), but DJI should be a bit more realistic in their marketing.
The Avata’s battery charges in about 45 minutes, and you can get two extra batteries and a charger with the $279 Fly-More Kit. Samuel indicated that if he bought one for his photography business, he would get at least six batteries.
I would also buy the largest microSD cards possible, as the hidden slot underneath is extremely difficult to access, especially when removing a card. The USB-C port for transfers and charging is equally difficult to access. DJI normally excels with these types of features, but honestly they are serious design flaws. On the plus side, the Avata has 20GB of internal storage that can serve up in a pinch.
Underneath are two time-of-flight sensors that can detect and map obstacles on the ground. However, the Avata doesn’t have forward-facing sensors, so its main protection is the accessory guards and rugged design.
The Avata Pro View Combo comes with the DJI Motion Controller as the only way to fly the drone. You can also use the FPV 2 remote, but it’s sold separately for $200.
The new 2 glasses are also included in this pack, not to be confused with the V2 glasses. They’re smaller and lighter than the latter and use micro-LEDs instead of OLED panels, with 1080p resolution for each eye compared to 810p on Goggles V2. You can use the V2 with the Avata and FPV, but the Goggle 2 only works with the Avata.
Gallery: DJI Avata FPV Drone Image Gallery | 25 Pictures
Gallery: DJI Avata FPV Drone Image Gallery | 25 Pictures
The extra sharpness and small size are nice, but you can’t wear glasses under the Glasses 2. Instead, they have built-in diopters to correct your sight. If you have astigmatism, DJI includes lens mounts that you can return to have your prescription filled.
Samuel wasn’t crazy about the diopter. While they gave him a clear view, he often had to remove the helmet to see the drone, which meant he had to put his glasses back on. He found the Goggles V2 easier because he can wear his glasses underneath.
The Goggles 2 allow you to fly the Avata without a mobile phone, as they incorporate a mini version of the DJI Fly app. If you want to let others see, however, you can connect a smartphone via the USB-C port on the side. Goggles 2 controls the Avata through DJI’s Ocusync O3, providing a 50 Mbps video stream up to 6.2 miles away. However, we noticed that the V2 Goggles provide stronger power over a longer distance, probably due to the larger antennas.
The Avata is a blast to fly, but it’s not as fast as some FPV drones. It tops out at 60 MPH in manual mode, well below DJI’s FPV’s 87 MPH. And that’s in manual mode – sport and normal modes are considerably slower at 31 MPH and 18 MPH, respectively.
It does, however, have impressive maneuverability, allowing you to fly places you would never take another drone. We’ve taken it around handball players in practice, between our legs, through the small gap of a backboard, around a castle roof and indoors with people and fragile things around . It’s also hard. We’ve had a number of accidents that would have killed an open propeller drone. It can also bounce off a person without harming them.
Considering the Avata might be many people’s first FPV drone, selling it with the Motion Controller is a good idea – but not as the only option. DJI is also expected to sell a bundle with the FPV Controller 2, which offers more precise control for advanced users. As it stands, you have to pay an extra $199 to get it.
The motion controller is easy to use – just point it where you want to fly and pull the trigger to accelerate. To climb, tilt the controller up and apply power, and reverse that for descents. A big button on the top gets it to hover, and the red button lets you take off and land.
However, it has some limitations. You can’t transition vertically or fly backwards with the motion controller, so you have to use a button to land. It also lacks precision, especially indoors. In fact, we found that without a GPS lock indoors, the Avata was sometimes impossible to fly with the motion controller.
If you have experience, the FPV Controller 2 is a better option. It lets you activate manual mode to navigate faster, fly low to the ground, and zigzag between trees or rooftops. Inside, you can precisely fly between rooms, objects, and people, just like you might have seen in some of these cool cinewhoop FPV videos.
Manual mode also unlocks flips, dives, climbs, hairpin turns, rolls, and other tricks. Just keep in mind that there is no sensor protection. Although the Avata drone is sturdy, it is not unbreakable and could really injure someone at 60 MPH. It is also more unstable, so piloting it requires some serious skill. It’s a ton of fun, though, with the speed and lack of safeguards providing a real adrenaline rush you don’t get from other drones.
Most so-called Cinewhoop FPV drones use external cameras like the GoPro Hero Bones (or just regular stripped GoPros), but the Avata has one built-in. It uses the same 1/1.7 inch sensor as the new action camera 3with 64% more area than FPV.
Like the Action 3, it has normal, wide, and ultra-wide options with a field of view of up to 155 degrees. And in addition to the built-in gimbal and RockSteady smoothing, it has the HorizonView option to keep things level, even if the drone tilts heavily.