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Saturday, February 4, 2023

DJI Avata announced – Drone Rush

DJI Avata front

DJI has announced another fun new drone, and in another fun new form-factor. The DJI Avata is a smaller drone that has built-in propeller guards and performs well indoors.

FPV enthusiasts can consider the Avata to be an updated DJI FPV drone. Avata is not as powerful, but shares the same controllers and FPV headsets.

DJI Avata

  • 4K camera
  • FPV experience
  • Safe indoor

DJI Avata overview

DJI Avata

Measuring about 8.5-inches from corner to corner, and 3-inches tall, Avata is getting close to competing with low-speed racing drones. Fans of the Tiny Whoop series can enjoy similar speeds while weaving through chair legs in the dining room, and race-track pilots can enjoy high-quality video in their FPV goggles.

As we compare the Avata to racing drones, please know that that’s not the goal. DJI wants all pilots to be able to enjoy the FPV experience. The DJI FPV Goggles 2 put two HD screens in your face, and the 4K camera on the drone captures solid photos and video from the sky.

DJI Avata

As with the DJI FPV before it, the Avata has limited camera capabilities when compared to the best camera drones on the market. Specifically, Avata has a one-axis gimbal that tilts up and down. Physical dampening is enhanced by digital stabilization, but the point of view remains fixed, as is the configuration on most racing drones.

Controlling the Avata using the DJI Motion Controller is fun. It take some getting used to if you’re not used to it, but it’s a fun way to control a drone. It feels more like an RC airplane than the quadcopter that it is.

DJI Avata and Motion Controller in hand

Mavic pilots may miss the obstacle avoidance features they’re accustomed to. Avata does have down-firing sensors like most Mavic drones, and it uses the camera to avoid head-on collisions, but our first time in the air we bumped into the wall in the living room.

Avata weighs more than 250g. The drone itself is about the same footprint as the DJI Mini line, and is designed for a more casual pilot, so we had expected a sub-250g weight for legal purposes. This is not a problem, you simply need your TRUST certificate to fly Avata outdoors.

DJI Avata features and specifications

DJI Avata and battery

The skeletonized airframe of the Avata is a new design technique from DJI. This makes it easy to see that the bulk of the flight hardware is housed in a small box in the middle. Exposed wiring runs to the propellers. A little box houses the radios on the top, which is in a cage that also holds the battery.

The propeller guards are built into the bottom frame of the drone, which is also the landing gear. They cannot be removed.

The camera and propellers mount to a sturdy frame piece that is sandwiched between the bottom prop guards and the upper battery cage. The gimbal holds the camera above the rubber vibration dampeners, which is the opposite of most Mavic drones.

DJI Avata ports

The propellers are also new for DJI’s consumer drones. They are five-bladed props, which provide a far different sound profile than we are accustomed to from DJI drones. It has more of the high-pitched whine of racing drones than the lower droning of a two-bladed prop on a big camera drone.

Under the hood is a 2,420mAh battery, which DJI says will get you up to 18 minutes of flight time. That all depends on your flight style, of course. Hovering around to capture video from the sky does not eat up the battery as fast as a good workout around a technical race course.

The Camera on the Avata shoots up to 4K video and 48MP stills.

DJI Avata camera

DJI Avata camera

The 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor in the Avata should prove to be a step above the DJI Mini 2 in quality, but maybe a little short of the DJI Air 2 or DJI Mini 3 Pro.

4K video is captured at up to 60fps, while 2.7K video can be recorded at up to 120fps. A 155° field of view shows you a lot of the world in front of the drone, which is perfect for the immersive experience in the FPV goggles.

DJI uses their RockSteady and HorizonSteady technology for this camera. These digital stabilizations work well in DJI’s action cameras, so they’re putting it to task in the sky now as well.

Here are a few early photos, watch for more in our full Avata review, coming soon.

DJI Motion Controller

DJI Motion Controller and Avata in hand

This is the same DJI Motion Controller that was launched alongside the DJI FPV in 2021. This one-handed joystick-style controller has a trigger and thumb buttons to operate the drone.

Folks that are accustomed to the popular Mode 2 controller configuration will need a moment to get used to the Motion Controller. More specifically, they need to get used to the way the drone flies.

With a standard controller, you control the spin, altitude, forward motion and sideways motion from two thumb-sticks. With the Motion Controller, you controls the tilt of the drone, and hit the trigger to engage forward flight.

DJI Motion Controller in hand

In essence, the drone operates like an airplane, with forward flight and the need to fly forward into the altitude or position desired. Of course, the drone still hovers in place, and you can spin it in place, but you cannot make it go straight up or down, nor fly backwards or sideways.

Once you are accustomed to the change, the FPV experience fits much better. When you can only fly in the direction that is visible in the goggles, it all just makes sense.

DJI FPV Goggles 2

DJI FPV Goggles 2 and battery

The DJI FPV Goggles 2 are much smaller and lighter than the previous FPV Goggles. A dual Micro-LED screen setup provides crisp views and alleviates eye strain.

The new size is both a pro and a con, depending on your eyesight. If you wear glasses, they will most likely not fit inside these goggles. Mine didn’t, and they are a fairly narrow frame.

Instead of wearing your glasses, DJI has included adjustable diopters.

DJI FPV Goggles 2 inside

Spin the eye pieces independently from -8 D up to +2 D correction. They also slide side-to-side to support interpupillary distances of 56 – 72 mm.

The problem with the goggles is that by not fitting glasses, they are excluding folks that need vision correction beyond the basic fix. Myself, for example, while my main correction is well within the bounds provided, I have astigmatism in my left eye. Without optical correction, I expect I’ll have about 5 minutes in the goggles before I get a headache.

The touchpad on the right hand side is pleasantly sensitive and accurate, and the external battery makes it easy to balance the weight.

DJI Avata price and availability

DJI Avata box

The DJI Avata is available starting August 25, 2022 in several bundles. One bundle is just the drone, one is the drone with the Motion Controller and Goggles 2, and the last is the drone with the Motion Controller and the new FPV Goggles V2.

There is also a standalone Avata Fly More kit.

We think the DJI Avata is an interesting drone. On one hand, it’s small enough, and safe enough, to fly indoors. On the other, it’s fast and agile enough to put it to the test outdoors, with a camera that will shoot great photos and video from the sky.

DJI Avata boxes

Thing is, much like the DJI FPV drone before it, we feel it’s a little over-priced if this isn’t exactly the type of aircraft you’re looking for. Someone looking for a Tiny Whoop can be in the air for less than $100. Someone looking for the best possible flying camera can get a non-FPV drone with better camera overall for about the same price.

The DJI Avata is valuable for its flight experience. FPV is a fun experience. Few drones are this safe and easy to fly, while still being fast and agile. The DJI FPV and DJI Avata are in a league of their own, and totally worth it for that exciting FPV flight experience.

DJI Avata standalone $629

  • DJI Avata
  • 1 battery
  • Charger
  • 2 spare propellers
  • USB Type-C cable

DJI Avata Pro-View combo $1,388

  • DJI Avata
  • 1 battery
  • Charger
  • 2 spare propellers
  • USB Type-C cable
  • DJI Motion Controller
  • DJI Goggles 2

DJI Avata Fly Smart combo $1,168

  • DJI Avata
  • 1 battery
  • Charger
  • 2 spare propellers
  • USB Type-C cable
  • DJI Motion Controller
  • DJI FPV Goggles V2

DJI Avata Fly More kit $279

  • 2 batteries
  • Multi-port charging hub

DJI Avata parts and accessories

  • Battery $129
  • Propellers $9
  • Upper frame $19
  • Propeller guard $29
  • ND Filters (ND8/16/32) $79

DJI Avata

DJI Avata

  • 4K camera
  • FPV experience
  • Safe indoor

Born to Fly

The DJI Avata is a fun compact drone with DJI’s FPV flight experience. The hybrid camera-racing design has the feel of FPV racing, and the camera of a stable GPS drone. Think of the DJI Avata as a flying action camera, that happens to connect to VR goggles.

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