Ryze Robotics Tello
A GREAT START FOR GRADUATE PILOTS.
SAY HELLO TO the most affordable drone going, and one that threatens to be educational. The Tello has been made in conjunction with master drone manufacturer DJI, the company responsible for the mighty Phantom, the diminutive Spark and winning Mavic Air. Ryze Robotics has handled the software and design, while DJI provides hardware components.
It’s a modest setup compared to DJI’s work. A 720p camera on the front shoots reasonable video and takes OK pictures, all controlled via your smartphone (or an optional handset for an additional $49). Flips, rotating shots and a long, rising shot are standard in the app. You’ll see a lot of blockiness in the footage, but it’s colourful and lively. One small, single flashing light on the front of the Tello gives you an idea of which way the thing is pointing, but keeping track of that can be rather hairy. Fly it outside on a bright day and it’s easy to lose orientation and stack it into a shrub. The Tello will cut power if it senses you’ve lost control, and the lightweight nature combined with a 10m flight ceiling and propellor guards means you won’t do too much damage, indoors or in the backyard.
What’s unique is that the Tello is primed for teaching people — kids, teens and adults — how to code with Scratch or an SDK. Both are free to download. That’s a terrific initiative, and one big reason to buy a Tello. The camera’s passable, and while the smartphone controls are functional, you’re far better off with something grippy to inspire confidence. Sadly, the Tello misses out on gesture controls, but get to grips with Scratch and you can fly it using your laptop instead.