If you remember my previous drone reviews, I love helicopters — remote controls and real deals — and I’ve had them since I was very young.
Today’s drones are far ahead of what we dreamed of 10 years ago.
In my last drone review, I covered the DJI Mavic Mini 2. I thought this was the best small drone I could buy at the time.
Last month I tested the Autel Robotics EVO Nano + drone and I’m ready to say it’s better than the Mavic Mini 2, but with a fair amount of premium.
Oh, Nano + is also pretty tough.
On my first flight, I brilliantly crashed it into a concrete driveway, and it wasn’t damaged. We’ll come back to this later.
Let’s take a closer look at the features.
The EVO Nano + is a special class drone that weighs less than 250 grams. No registration is required to use these drones for recreation. If you fly for commercial purposes (such as taking flyover videos for real estate listings or roof inspections), you will need to register with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Even if your drone is below the 250g limit, there are some rules you need to follow.
You need to keep the drone in line of sight or use a visual observer who is in contact with the pilot. You also need to fly at altitudes below 400 feet and not interfere with manned aircraft.
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Nano + is a foldable drone with a built-in camera that can shoot 4K video and 50 megapixel stills. The camera’s 0.8-inch sensor and f / 1.9 lens are placed on the gimbal to keep the image level at the horizon, even when the drone is performing complex operations.
There are some very cool auto shoot modes that even amateur pilots can capture complex video shots like Orbit. Orbit captures a 360 degree sweep shot of the defined subject.
You can fly up to 6.2 miles from the operator (although the drone must always be in line of sight).
The Nano +’s wind resistance is level 5 and sounds good, but when you see the drone hovering over the wind, evaluate it until you see how the video stays solid. I can not do it.
The drone has sensors that avoid obstacles that move forward, backward, or downward.
By default, avoidance prevents you from hitting something in the way. You will see a yellow warning when approaching (within 20 feet) and a red warning on the flight screen when you are within 10 feet.
If you do not steer around obstacles, the drone will stop and hover until you change direction.
The flight time of the Nano + battery is 28 minutes.
The drone has phase detection and contrast detection autofocus to provide fast and accurate targeting. You can track moving objects very smoothly.
Nano + is controlled by the smartphone app.
Connect the phone to the included controller. The controller is similar to a video game controller. There is a slot for mounting the phone and a clip to hold the phone in place. Connect the phone to the controller with a short cable. Includes cables for iPhone (Lightning) and Android (microUSB or USB-C).
The app will find the drone and guide you through the necessary steps before flying. You need to lift the drone and rotate it in a circular motion both horizontally and vertically to adjust the drone’s internal compass.
You can also go outdoors so that the drone’s GPS can lock to the signal. GPS is important when you want to get your drone home. This can be done with the touch of a button.
When you’re flying a drone, you’re really looking at what the drone is seeing. When you lift the drone away from your current location, you fly the drone while looking at the screen of the phone, as if you were sitting in the pilot’s seat.
If you’ve played video games before, you’ll often feel how good it is to fly a drone.
Also, Nano + is so small that you’ll lose track of it. So knowing how to take Nano + home alone can be very comfortable.
About that crash
As long as we’re talking about the homecoming feature, we need to talk about crashes.
I was on my first flight with the Nano +, flying over a cow pasture opposite my mother-in-law’s house.
I returned the drone to the hover. There was about 10 feet in front of me on her driveway. The drone was about 6 feet off the ground and there was a big tree on it.
I wanted to hit the back home button and land the drone. I thought the drone was within about 10 feet of where it took off and would just move into place and land. I was wrong.
It zoomed straight, hit a tree branch, and hit a concrete driveway in front of me.
I don’t have a drone, so I could only fly when reviewing the drone and didn’t remember the return sequence.
When you press the return home button, you’re usually flying far away from your location, the drone will stop immediately, move up and down to a certain altitude, and then return to your location in a straight line. It will drop down to the land it took off.
My problem was that I forgot the first step of moving the drone to a certain altitude. In my case it was set to 100 feet. I was hovering about 6 feet above the ground, so the drone shot straight and hit a tree.
Fortunately for me, there was no damage except for some scratches on the plastic body of the drone. I was able to fly again soon.
Frequent crashes are not recommended. You may not be so lucky next time.
I noticed that I only touched on some of the features of Nano +. I was able to fill a few pages with my own thoughts. We hope that this review will allow potential buyers to conduct their own research.
Nano + is an excellent drone with a high quality camera for great video and still images. The fact that it has three-way obstacle avoidance is unheard of for this Wright drone.
DJI’s Mavic Mini 2 does not yet have an obstacle avoidance feature.
I think the main functions of Nano + are the same as Mini2, but avoiding the obstacles advances Nano +. I’m ready to say it’s the best drone weighs less than 250g.
But is obstacle avoidance worth an additional $ 450?
The Autel EVO Nano + costs $ 1,049 for a drone with a premium bundle of three batteries, a carrying case, additional blades, parts and a memory card.
A similar kit for the Mini 2 costs only $ 599.
The Nano + is a great drone, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the higher price for a recreational flyer. Obstacle avoidance certainly helps beginner flyers, but more advanced pilots will want to do their own research.
Advantages: Light weight, long flight time, obstacle avoidance, excellent camera, durability.
Conclusion: Nano + wins the functional war with DJI, but at a higher cost.
Jim Rothman is writing for the Dallas Morning News. He can contact email@example.com.
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