As a flyer, the Karma feels a generation or two behind other recent big name drones.
First, the good bits. With automated take-off and landing and simple two-stick controls, it’s easy to fly, and its GPS sensors ensure it will return to home when the battery’s almost depleted or if the signal between controller and drone cuts out.
Flick it into sport mode and it’ll zip along at a brisk 35mph, responding quickly to your commands. I like the self-contained controller too. It’s got decent four-hour battery life, is made of a tough matte plastic, the screen is clear and bright, and it’s nice not to have to rely on your smartphone or tablet to fulfil the display duties.
But compare the Karma to its DJI rivals and it feels under-equipped and under-powered. Both the Phantom 4 and Mavic Pro, for instance, have sensors that help them avoid collision with obstacles in front and allow them to fly steadily in interior spaces (where GPS won’t work).
The Karma doesn’t, which means that, even in its automated return to home mode it could crash into a tree or pylon without human intervention, and that flying it indoors is not recommended.
Then there’s the range. DJI’s drones communicate with the controller using both Wi-Fi and radio signals, which enables them to fly a long way from the user – up to 4.3 miles in optimum conditions in the Mavic Pro’s case (although doing so would be breaking UK law). The Karma uses only Wi-Fi, and in testing I found it lost its connection at around 500ft, even in wide open spaces like the beach.
So if you want a drone that flies high and far, the Karma isn’t the best choice. In terms of flight time, it’s also a little behind its rivals. According to GoPro, a full battery charge (which takes around an hour) will give the Karma up to 20 minutes of air time. I found that to be fairly accurate, but with the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 offering up to 27 minutes, 20 is no longer plenty. One solution is to stock up on extra Karma batteries, currently priced at £99.99.
Published at Tue, 09 May 2017 11:20:05 +0000