EHang Ghost­drone 2.0

A DRONE ANY VIDEOG­RA­PHER CAN HANG THEIR HAT ON.

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME -

A SET OF VR gog­gles might not be con­sid­ered a core in­gre­di­ent for a con­sumer drone, but the Ghost­Drone 2.0’s in­clu­sion of a head­set has given EHang a novel tool. The head­set acts as an in­ter­me­di­ary Wi-Fi sig­nal for­warder for the drone, so you can get a more sta­ble and re­spon­sive con­nec­tion while us­ing the eHang Play smart­phone con­trol app. A 5GHz Wi-Fi trans­mit­ter de­liv­ers the 480p im­age to the head­set while a sec­ond 2.4GHz trans­mit­ter pushes around the con­trol and sen­sory data. This setup is pow­ered by a gen­er­ous 1,700mAh bat­tery with around 60 min­utes of juice — far out­last­ing the flight time of the drone and sav­ing your phone from bat­tery-drain­ing video trans­mis­sion. The other main fea­ture of the head­set is an in­built gy­ro­scope that al­lows the drone’s ver­ti­cal gim­bal to be con­trolled sim­ply by tilt­ing your head, mak­ing ver­ti­cal shot track­ing a par­tic­u­larly in­tu­itive process.

The sim­ple smart­phone-based con­trol scheme makes this one less in­tim­i­dat­ing for a be­gin­ner, al­though for any­one ac­cus­tomed to the con­trols and range of drones with ded­i­cated con­trollers, ma­noeu­ver­ing the Ghost­Drone can feel a lit­tle im­pre­cise and con­strained.

For­tu­nately, be­cause of the Wi-Fi for­warder, there aren’t any of the range is­sues that gen­er­ally ac­com­pany di­rect phone-to-drone con­nec­tions and you’ll get a sta­ble con­nec­tion up to the max­i­mum rec­om­mended work­ing dis­tance of 500m. Us­ing the eHang Play app in ‘Avatar’ mode, the drone is con­trolled by the gy­ro­scopes in your phone. Hold­ing your phone flat with the screen up will keep the drone hov­er­ing in the one spot, while tilt­ing it causes the drone to ac­cel­er­ate in that di­rec­tion. Al­ti­tude is ad­justed by swip­ing the screen up to climb and pulling down to drop.

If you re­ally don’t like the whole ‘fly­ing’ as­pect of drones and just aim to use them to film, then the Ghost­Drone’s raft of semi­au­to­matic shoot­ing modes will likely ap­peal. The drone will take off and land on it’s own, but it’ll also move us­ing map pin drops that can be chained into way­points and can even utilise the smarts of your phone to au­to­mat­i­cally per­form cam­era shots, from ver­ti­cally pan­ning to fully au­ton­o­mous or­bital track­ing.

The drone uses one of the more in­ter­est­ing bat­ter­ies we’ve seen, fea­tur­ing an in­built dis­play that gives you real-time in­for­ma­tion on the en­ergy lev­els of each cell, the over­all power per­cent­age and even an es­ti­mated re­main­ing flight time. De­spite all that, this 4,500mAh pow­er­pack will still only keep the drone in the air for a stan­dard max flight-time of 25 min­utes. An­other trick the Ghost­Drone has up its sleeve is a spher­i­cal cam­era with a 93º field of view and an aper­ture of f/2.8, which can cap­ture 4K video at 30fps. If you pre­fer the silky smooth view­ing of 60fps, then you’ll have to pair back the res­o­lu­tion to 2,716 x 1,524. The im­age qual­ity pro­duced by the cam­era’s sen­sor and lens is ex­cel­lent. The crisp, well-lit and nat­u­rally coloured images and video show no sign of bar­rel­ing or dis­tor­tion, de­spite the gen­er­ous lens an­gle, mak­ing it one of the only op­tions at this price that we’d com­fort­ably say could pro­duce video qual­ity at a pro­fes­sional level.

Still, the op­tion to in­clude a VR head­set rather than a ded­i­cated con­troller feels like a bit of a mis­take, es­pe­cially when you con­sider that the out­stand­ing video qual­ity pro­duced by this unit is more than enough to dis­tin­guish it from the com­pe­ti­tion. That said, the Ghost­Drone 2.0 VR is very rea­son­ably priced, has an ex­cel­lent cam­era and even comes with a 12 month re­place­ment warranty (that in­cludes ac­ci­den­tal crashes), so if you’re look­ing at drones for cinematic pur­poses, then it’s ar­guably the best­value propo­si­tion out there. [ JOEL BURGESS ]

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