Drone industry leader DJI unveiled new products and accessories at CES 2017 in Las Vegas today, including a colourful, limited-edition version of its Phantom 4 called the Chinese New Year Phantom 4. Gone is the ubiquitous white that has marked previous Phantoms; this one is bursting with colour and design from the imagination of renowned illustrator and designer Martin Sati.
With bright red props and legs, the new Phantom 4 is a kaleidoscope of swirling colours, representing a Phoenix. In Chinese mythology, it’s a symbol of good fortune and happiness.
It would be hard not to be happy with a drone that features 4K recording, 3-axis camera stabilization and forward obstacle avoidance. It also features, of course, DJI’s renowned Lightbridge technology, which allows users to get a bird’s-eye view from up to five kilometres away.
With a flight time of up to 28 minutes and a host of intelligent features, the special edition P4 will retail for $1,199. It will be available at Apple Stores, DJI Flagship Stores (except Korea), the DJI Online Store and Tmall DJI store. It will start shipping January 23. More information is available here. Part of the package is a very distinctive red remote control, which also echoes the Phoenix theme.
While the limited edition P4 is certainly the most colourful new arrival, it’s not the only product DJI announced Tuesday at CES 2017. There were also two new versions of the popular Osmo Mobile, a gimballed device that turns smart phones into powerful cinematic tools. Here’s one of the two, the Osmo Mobile Silver:
This model has a brand new look – with more of a feel of a “lifestyle” device rather than a cinematic tool. But it certainly has all the same chops of the original Osmo Mobile, plus a few more intelligent features added in. A new “Beautify” mode allows users to do minor touchups, and the unit is also compatible with FiLMiC Pro, a mobile app that puts professional filmmaking tools into the hands of the user.
Also new are super-efficient, high-capacity batteries that give the Osmo Mobile Silver a run time of up to 4.5 hours. That’s a huge improvement over the original stock Osmo. It’s unclear whether the new batteries will work with the older units, but we’ll try to find out. The Osmo Mobile Silver will retail for $299.
For owners of the original Osmo (which comes with its own camera), DJI is also offering a new add-on Zenmuse M1 gimbal, which will allow users to remove the stock camera and mount their smartphone instead. That accessory is $169, and both products will start shipping in the second half of January.
“DJI has developed some of the world’s best aerial platforms and camera technology,” says Paul Pan, DJI’s Lead Engineer. “And now, we bring to our customers a new range of product extensions and accessories to further expand their creative possibilities.”
There’s Hardware…then there’s Software
DJI also hit the CES running with the announcement of a brand new app – designed from the ground up for professional operators to plan and control autonomous flights for DJI aircraft. It’s called “Ground Station Pro” (or GS Pro). It’s designed for the iPad. But more than that, it’s designed to allow a pilot to program a highly complex mission with “a few taps,” according to the release.
GS Pro was designed to assist drone operators carrying out increasingly complicated commercial missions. DJI’s news release says it was designed “to improve workflow and dramatically increase efficiency in a wide range of industries, especially those in aerial mapping, architecture, precision agriculture and electrical inspections.”
Though DJI has long been known for the quality of its apps, this one looks particularly impressive. Up to 99 different waypoints can be created for each mission, “and each waypoint can have up to 15 consecutive actions.” Those actions include hovering, starting and stopping video recording, capturing stills, aircraft rotation, gimbal movements and more. Plus, it can capture data that can be inputted into separate 3D reconstruction software – allowing for the creation of 3D maps (and even the printing of 3D models of the terrain or architecture that was scanned).
The best part? This app is free – and available for download now at the App Store.
And then there’s Hardware again!
We’ve saved the brightest for last – and we mean that literally. DJI also announced the new display system called CrystalSky. The ultra-bright, high-resolution screen can be easily viewed in broad daylight.
With a maximum brightness of 2000 nits, the monitor is more than four times brighter than typical mobile devices. The monitor, which TDC has written about previously here, supports not only H.264 decoding but also the new H.265, which crunches more high resolution quality into less space. The monitor’s 4K video output can be tapped directly from the monitor’s HDMI port – and even dropped directly into First-Person-View (FPV) goggles and other high-resolution display devices. Footage recorded on a Micro SD Card can be inserted, and CrystalSky used as a playback device.
TDC has previously written about the 1000-nit display that ships with the P4P+, and we were unbelievably impressed with the screen in broad daylight. The CrystalSky Monitors (available in 5.5″ and 7.85″ screens) take that a substantial step forward. They are not only much brighter, but they are professional grade, with a military-spec look about them. The larger screen can run from 4-5 hours continuously (with external battery) while the 5.5″ unit can run 5-6 hours. That battery, by the way, has been designed to run in temperature extremes ranging from -20°C to 40°C (the units have an internal cooling system).
You can find more info on the new monitor system here. Pricing has not been announced yet, nor has a shipping date. Some well-placed rumours suggest the larger of the two pro monitors will be around the $1200 mark.
Given the fall that DJI had, no one was really anticipating any brand new #drone models at the show (though gorgeous, the Chinese New Year P4 isn’t really a new product with new features). It released the foldable Mavic Pro in September, and the high-end Inspire 2 at a major launch event in Los Angeles, where invited guests watched the Inspire 2 and its X5S cameras capture what was essentially a real-time short film.
Those drones of course, will still take centre stage at CES 2017 – along with everything else you’ve just seen.