The DJI FPV drone is a hot commodity these days. It’s widely touted in the industry as state of the art – a drone suitable to be flown by beginner and expert alike. Its manufacturer calls it a “groundbreaking ready-to-fly FPV drone that lets users of any skill level feel the thrill of immersive flight.” It’s especially big with drone racing amateurs, mainly for its speed (maximum: 85 mph), which exceeds that of nearly all standard camera drones.
But is the DJI FPV all that it’s cracked up to be? Now that it’s been on the market for more than a year, a number of independent reviews have appeared in print and on YouTube. And the verdict is somewhat mixed.
- For one thing the DJI FPV is quite expensive– about $1,300, and that doesn’t include all the standard add-ons, including the fly-over and the replacement battery, which together cost $500 or more. $1,800, especially for a starter drone, is pricey. The DJI FPV is still selling well, but it may not remain super-competitive over the long haul.
- It’s a little clunky, partly because it’s fairly large. That makes it less easy to store and less portable than most drones, which can be folded into a backpack. But in flight, the DJI FPV is quite nimble, especially in “manual” mode. When it’s paused, it hovers in place and doesn’t resume forward flight as quickly as you might like. But the pause mode does make it superior to other FPV drones that lack that capacity. In addition, the DJI FPV has an automatic return mode that is triggered whenever the battery is low or the drone encounters an obstacle and is temporarily down or disabled. This safety feature makes it less likely that you will lose the drone.
- The DJI FPV is fast, a major selling point for drone users seeking a bit of a thrill, but that also means navigational control might be challenging if you’re new to drones. The DJI FPV is not as fast as a serious tracing drone, so you might not want to show up at a serious drone race with it. While the FAA regulations designate 100 mph as the official drone speed limit, more serious racing drones can fly twice as fast as the DJI FPV. So, just have fun wowing and outpacing your friends with their own smaller, slower drones at a local public park.
- The DJI FPV has a solid sensor – or object avoidance – function and a superior camera capability. The sensor helps stabilize the drone in flight, even in windy conditions, which also keeps its tiltable camera stable to shoot high-quality videos. In a March 2021 You Tube video, Scott McKenna, a DJI FPV skeptic, compared the drone’s camera quality favorability to that of the Mini-2 (competitively priced at $500) at various speeds. He noted the superior maneuverability of the DJI FPV to allow for unusual aerial shots.
- Partly due to its size and speed, the DJI FPV doesn’t last extremely long in flight – about 20 minutes max. Of course, that’s a lot longer than a real racing drone, which typically flies for just 4-5 minutes. Still, some smaller, slower and cheaper drones currently on the market last a full 30 minutes. So expect to be recharging your DJI FPV a bit more often than you might like.
- For such an expensive product, it seems incongruous that the DJI FPV frame is made of plastic. A carbon fiber frame would also be more durable in the event of crashes, which are inevitable with any drone. With its current frame the DJI might not survive more than a serious crash or two, especially given the likely speed at impact. A related issue is replacement parts – also expensive, and not readily available. If the DJI FPV crashes, you might have trouble getting it back up and running right away.
- The DJI FPV is really loud – indeed, louder than most drones. If you’re looking for a drone to cruise in a quiet suburban neighborhood, DJI FPV may not be the best choice.
Some of these issues may be resolved in the next generation of DJI FPV.
Overall, despite its shortcomings, most owners still love this drone. It combines some of the speed of a racing drone with the visual capability of a camera drone, and its safety features are reassuring. Some users use the DJI FPV as a cinematic drone, capturing scenic images for a video. Others like the sport or the manual setting to conduct acrobatic flips and maneuvers. If you can afford the DJI FPV, and don’t mind its noise, you will likely enjoy the DJI FPV and feel it was well worth the investment.