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The DJI CrystalSky
The DJI CrystalSky. Source: DJI

At the recent NABShow, DJI announced its long-awaited CrystalSky monitors will soon be released. Though currently on the DJI store page, they’re listed as “out of stock.”

DJI describes the monitor as being purpose-built for outdoor aerial imaging.

“CrystalSky monitor features an ultra-bright screen that is clearly visible in sunlight,” says the company. “It is designed from the ground up to work seamlessly with the DJI GO/DJI GO 4 app, giving camera operators total control.”

Of course, the default until now has been to use an iPad, Android tablet, or some other mobile device like a smartphone as your ground-based monitor with DJI products. So how to decide which device is a better fit for you?

Battery Life

An iPad can last an impressive eight hours on a single charge. The CrystalSky monitors have a removable 4920mAh battery that can last 4-6 hours, depending on which version you get. When your iPad runs out of power you have to stop and charge it. With CrystalSky’s removable batteries, nearly non-stop operations are possible. 

Screen Brightness

Most people that use iPads or other tablets when flying use sun-shades that need to be disassembled when transporting and often force you to really look *down* when you should be monitoring your aircraft. CrystalSky monitors have up to 2000 nits of brightness and can easily be seen in direct sunlight.

HDMI out

For external monitor viewing when using an iPad/tablet, the user would need to purchase an HDMI out expansion board for many DJI aircraft (not available for the popular Mavic Pro). The CrystalSky monitors come with 4K HDMI out as standard, allowing for use with FPV goggles and other displays. 

SD Card

When reviewing footage on an iPad, the user is forced to view the lower-resolution downlink video which isn’t suitable for edits. Like most non-Apple tablets, CrystalSky comes with an SD card slot (actually, there are two of them). Not only that, but the screen can display H.265 video at 60fps.

dji-crystalsky-prototype-sd-card-slots

Size

iPads and other tablets have the CrystalSky monitors (of both sizes) beat on size. Not only are iPads significantly thinner, with an extension piece for the DJI remotes you can use a full size iPad which is almost 10 inches, 2 inches larger than the bigger CrystalSky monitor. The CrystalSky monitors will be more rugged and will be more at home in a camera operator’s equipment case, but for people who need all the space they can get, iPads or other tablets may work better.

Overall, CrystalSky monitors are the best choice in many scenarios. However, given how many people already iPads, it may be a while until we see CrystalSky monitors being commonly used by the casual user. Our bet is that they will prove more popular with professional users, being paired with the new Cendence controller and the Inspire 2.

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