DJI has a long history of producing outstanding quality drones with some of the best aerial videography systems. With the Phantom 4, DJI is stepping up the drone game even further, blowing its competition off the charts.
The Phantom 4 looks very similar to the previous generations of the Phantom series. It is slightly thinner and lighter thanks to its magnesium skeleton that provides extra agility and improves performance. It isn’t a beautiful looking drone, but it covers up in terms of the technology it packs!
DJI says the Phantom 4 is one of the most advanced drones they’ve made, and that is absolutely true. The Phantom 4 relies on GPS and GLONASS to locate itself on earth, but it also uses the Visual Positioning System to determine its physical location with respect to its surroundings using four optical and two ultrasonic sensors. In addition, it features an obstacle avoidance system that is a first in the Phantom series. This uses two front facing optical sensors paired with the drone’s computer to stop the drone from crashing when an object appears in its path.
Now that the drone consists of so many sensors to accurately determine position and avoid obstacles, DJI stepped up the piloting experience with ‘TapFly’ and ‘ActiveTrack’. Like the Phantom 3 Professional, the drone connects to the controller with DJI's Lightbridge Video Downlink, allowing for a 5 km range. This also allows for a live video feed on the iPad or smartphone connected to the controller. TapFly makes controlling the drone child’s play - just double tap the location where you want the drone to go to and it will fly there. In ActiveTrack mode, all you do is select the moving object - a person, a car or anything else - that you wish to track and the drone will follow along. In both modes, the drone uses all the sensors to pilot itself. These features make the Phantom 4 a compelling choice for novice pilots and videographers.
The Phantom 4 is a true filmmaker’s tool. The 12.4 MP camera can shoot 4K video @ 30 fps. It is stabilised by its own 3-axis gimbal. The camera module is essentially borrowed for the DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone. In terms of picture quality, this drone does an excellent job, as visible in the videos linked below. The drone also features a ‘Sport Mode’ (in addition to other pre-programmed flying modes) that allows the drone to capture high quality footage at speeds of upto 72 km/h.
DJI promises a 25% increase in flight time with the Phantom 4, from 23 minutes on the Phantom 3 Professional to 28 minutes on this. However, actual flying time is usually lesser, which means spare batteries are a necessity for long duration flights. Sadly though, the batteries itself are very expensive.
As you can tell, there isn’t a lot going wrong with this drone. Initial reviews of this drone conclude the same. Casey Neistat, popular YouTube vlogger and filmmaker from New York considers this to be one of the best drones out there - visibly evident in his vlogs. I’ve linked two of his videos for you to experience the video quality from the Phantom 4.
Coming to the price: $1399. This is just for the drone and the controller, with no spare batteries or a carrying case. Pretty steep? Yes, but when compared to other drones in the market, the Phantom 4 is an excellent choice even at this price point.
I’m looking forward to get my hands on this for a review, so hit me up of you plan to purchase one (or own one already)! Meanwhile, take a look at the outstanding landscape of South Africa filmed using this drone by Casey Neistat.
The results of the survey:
1. Virtual Reality is almost perfect and ready for production
Virtual Reality has made big leaps this year. Facebook’s F8 conference, Google’s I/O 2015 and the E3 gaming conference have all provided enough hints at VR becoming a consumable experience next year. The Oculus Rift has been perfected and a 2016 Q1 release is expected. Sony’s Project Morpheus has a market name: the PlayStation VR, and is also expected in 2016. HTC and Valve are still developing the Vive (aka. SteamVR) which is perhaps one of the first VR headsets that can track your position in a room. VR truly has a bright future, it looks like, now that we have achieved super high-resolution displays that have a refresh rate of upwards of 90 fps. Basically, putting your headset on and walking around the Star Wars universe in first person is very much possible!
There are two meanings of Hoverboard in 2015:
We also saw hoverboards that don’t hover, but became hugely popular. These 2 wheel scooters have been accepted as a fun alternative to walking, and adoption rates are off the charts. Still, because all of them are made in China, there is no guarantee of quality and these “hoverboards” are available for a wide price range - from a few 100 dollars to a 1000 dollars (and are absolutely identical in looks).
3. Adoption of USB Type-C
USB Type-C is the future of all I/O ports. This year, we saw it as the only port on the MacBook, the port on the Nexus 6P, 5X, OnePlus 2, and even the ChromeBook Pixel and Pixel C. With such widespread adoption, I wouldn’t be surprised to see USB Type-C as the default port on every device in the upcoming years. USB Type-C is a revolution in USB history: it is reversible, fast and compact.
4. Quantum Computing finally works!
What is Quantum Computing? It is the use of quantum-mechanical phenomenon like superposition ad entanglement in computer systems to improve their performance. Quantum computers use qubits, which are like bits in a normal computer. One bit can represent only a “true” (or “1") or a “false” (or “0”), but a qubit can represent a 1, a 0 as well as any superposition state in between. With 2 bits, you get twice the ability; but with 2 qubits, you get 2^2, or 4 times the ability thanks to quantum mechanics. If n is the number of qubits, you have 2^n times the ability of one qubit. That makes quantum computers insanely powerful. But quantum computers are also very difficult to make, because it involves altering structures at the nano scale. In 2015, we finally have Google’s D-wave promising a positive future for quantum computing. Quantum computers in the future will be used to calculate weather trends, solve complex mathematical problems and many more that we can’t yet imagine.
5. Drones and drone regulations
2015 finally saw drones become mainstream and drone regulations become a reality. The DJI Phantom has been rated as one of the best drones available and Amazon might just use drones to drop off packages onto people’s home backyards. Whatever the reasons be, drones will be a significant part of the coming year, just like they have been this year.
That wraps up this article of Topper of 2015. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the final results of the survey and concluding the series in light of the new year.
2015 saw an upsurge in the development of futuristic aspects in upcoming vehicles. We know for sure that future vehicles are going to be powered by sustainable fuel - electricity generated through renewable sources like solar energy or hydrogen. We also are pointing towards a future that has only autonomous vehicles on the road - cars that can drive by themselves and communicate and learn from each other. For once, we know that vehicles of the future are going to be more like “gadgets” than like “mechanical things on wheels”. (Suggested read: The future of mobility)
Thought the year, I wrote about some interesting cars that were ridiculously innovative. For the survey, I listed them down for you to vote. Here are the results:
With 45.6% votes, we have the Tesla Model X.
The Model X is Tesla’s third major car, after the Roadster and the Model S. The Model S defines how electric cars should be - from the high capacity, fast charging battery to the insane 17” touchscreen display that replaces all knobs and buttons and adds a more functionality to the dash. The Model X takes these features, and adds to it a larger, more spacious cabin and some really well designed “falcon wing" doors, and of course, the "bioweapon defence mode". Essentially, you are getting a car that is fast, easy to maintain and really, really safe to be in. I’ve covered all these features in detail in this article about the Model X, so read on!
With 21% votes comes the Koenigsegg Regera.
This car far more beastly than your average supercar. It produces a whopping 1800 bhp. That translates to 0-100 in 2.7 seconds (faster than the Agera), which is bonkers.
The thing is, it is a hybrid. The 5 litre twin-turbo V8 produces 1100 bhp, while the 3 electric motors add 700 bhp more to it. By no means is this a practical car; but it still is far more efficient that the rambling Agera RS. Fun fact: unlike the Agera, the Regera has no gear box!
The Regera translates to “To Reign” in Swedish, and it sure does. This limited edition car truly shows the power of a hybrid vehicle.
I’ve written about the Regera in this article.
Finally, let us talk about the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion.
Personally, this car made most impact on me this year. The F 015 takes imagination to the next level: it is hard to even think of a car that looks like that, drives itself, has the most unique interior layout and is hundred percent electric. I’ll leave it to the pictures to explain this car to you. I’ve written about this car here.
The Porsche Mission E is another very interesting electric (concept) car, and is the first one (that I’ve heard of) to feature inductive “wireless” charging. Read more about it here.
The cars in the list are truly inspirational, bringing the best of technology, design and sustainability into one cover. And I? I can’t even wait to drive (or be chauffeured by) them.