DJI drones have dominated the sky for a long time but there are many other options. Parrot, who has made a name for himself with some very fun, toy-like quadcopter, kicked off his game earlier this year with the Anafi, which recorded 4K video. Read our Anafi test to learn more about its strengths and limitations.
With the Anafi FPV (First-Person-View), the company is back with a new version of this drone. It adds a practical backpack to FPV's virtual reality glasses, yet manages to keep the price at $ 800. Compare that with DJI's Mavic Pro with dedicated VR goggles that would bring you at least $ 1,300.
The combination of DJIs Mavic and eyewear offers a laundry list with features you will not find in Anafi. For the Parrot headset your phone is required DJIs are not, but the savings are significant. Parrot is betting that there is a class of pilots who want the FPV experience but do not want to pay the big bucks for it.
It's the same, but different.
The Anafi helicopter itself is essentially unchanged this version. It just comes with more stuff, like these VR glasses. The design is compact and lightweight with foldable arms so it fits easily in the included backpack that holds all the components together neatly and is strong enough to serve as a launch pad when there is no flat bottom.
The camera still offers high-resolution 4K video at up to 30 frames per second and captures 21-megapixel still images (including RAW), but it does not produce such good images due to its technology , as I wish information. The RAW files are fine, but the JPGs directly from the camera look a bit flat for me.
The Anafi also has an impressive top speed of 34 mph and creates a range of more than two miles, though instantly it's fenced much closer so it does not get far. You need to go into the settings and tweak the geo fence to maximize the range. Parrot now claims 26 minutes flying time from a single charge; This is one minute after the last version passed.
Goggle Me Goose
Apart from minor changes to the Anafi, the VR glasses from the first person perspective is the star of this package.
Like a good VR goggle for mobile devices The headset has a relatively comfortable strap that fastens to the head and holds a smartphone in front of the eyes. It's easy to set up, just lock your phone, adjust the straps and you're ready to go. Parrot has a list of supported devices, although in my tests, as long as you can run the app and your phone fits, everything is fine.
Rely on your smartphone as your screen helps Parrot keep costs down, but it's not without compromise. Accessing controls involves less hardware, and navigating the menus is definitely more difficult than with a dedicated headset. There are two hardware buttons, one of which will bring up a menu where you can navigate with the joysticks while the Anafi is in position. The other button toggles the display of your phone between the app and your rear view camera (so you can see ahead). This is useful if you want to have a quick look around without removing the headset.
The buttons in the headset are actually just levers that tap on a spot on the screen of the phone. This approach has something wonderfully low-tech that I like a lot, and it eliminates batteries in the headset, making things easier.
He is not particularly comfortable to wear. The lack of focussing options (there is none) made it difficult for my aging eyes to focus well on the screen for extended periods of time. Almost every successful VR headset has focus options, so this is a sad gap. I was still able to fly easily, but I never wanted to last too long.
Problems with the first person
I should probably also confess that I enjoy using my drones as flying cameras more than racing couplers. I understand the appeal of FPV for racing and other scenarios, but it's not my preferred method of control. Nevertheless, I enjoyed flying the Anafi in arcade mode, following the trajectory of the camera. This was the most natural way to use the glasses headset. Pivot the camera and the drone follows.
The other main flight mode I enjoyed in FPV was the cinema mode, which connects the horizon of the camera with the horizon of the drone. More than anything else, this felt like a simpler version of the old PC Flight Simulator games I wanted to play (or tried to play) as a kid. I found that the responsiveness of the Anafi in this mode is impressive and comparable to the settings of DJI.
The faster and more responsive modes show why I do not find FPV so useful – outside of tightly controlled situations. Nothing can happen outside the limited field of view of the camera. That's fine if you drive on a controlled route or fly in an area where there are no obstacles such as trees or buildings. However, if you fly in your local park, you may accidentally fall into a tree if you are not careful.
Parrot has deliberately put the Anafi in the so-called "movie" mode, which offers beginners a nice, slow and gentle starting position. I would also like to see that Parrot includes some object detection and collision avoidance features. These have been standard for DJI drones for years, but the Anafi does not offer anything like that.
The Parrot Anafi was not our favorite quadcopter. This new version with backpack and ego headset costs significantly less than a similar package of drones and ego glasses from DJI. The downside is that they will lose many features, including some collision-avoidance features included in DJI's offerings. That may not be a compromise you want to compromise.