It is always great fun to hang out with the team from GDU at drone tradeshows. They bring great machines to the show floor and have some truly innovative ideas that keep us excited. Their main machine has multiple variants and their latest is a first of a kind on the consumer market.
Not much more to say without introducing the drones – here is our quick GDU drones guide.
GDU used to be called ProDrone back when they launched their first Byrd folding quadcopter. They are a lifestyle company as much as a drone manufacturer now, but that ‘other stuff’ seems to have tamed down, their compact, folding drone was nearly the only thing on display at InterDrone and still their prominent piece at CES 2018.
The GDU Byrd is the first and main drone to come from the brand, it can be found in multiple variants over the years, and now we have the O2. And that’s your history of GDU… I’m kidding, let’s dive in to the drones:
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
GDU Byrd Standard
The white drone that started it all off. Also, one of the first consumer drones that folded down for transport. This is the base design still being built today for the line. It’s a pretty simple quadcopter design where the arms fold into the side of the drone. many drones dropped their arms straight down, which helps, but the full compact nature of the Byrd has been adopted by many moving forward.
Check out the GDU Byrd Standard for $749 on Amazon, when available.
GDU Byrd Advanced
Stepping things up, the GDU Byrd Advanced trades a bod color from white to this new soft black color. Upgraded systems do everything just a little better and the GoPro gimbal enables more options for video from the sky.
Check out the GDU Byrd Advanced for $849 today. (Currently unavailable.)
GDU Byrd Premium
Fall 2016Release Date
GDU is proud that they were one of the first to launch a folding drone. Their quadcopter design allows the arms to fold against the body of the craft, and the landing gear folds up to the belly for a greatly reduced size for transport. That said, the GDU Byrd line of drones, with the Byrd, Byrd Premium and the Byrd Premium 2.0 are still quite large. The Byrd Premium and 2.0 are powerful and fast machines, a thrill to fly. The stabilized 4K camera is well supported, and was good for its time.
Age catches up with all of us, and the GDU Byrd line is no exception. You can still find the machines for sale, but the newer GDU O2 is a much smaller machine with better camera results. The large drone is a hard sell.
Check out the GDU Byrd Premium for $1,049 on Amazon today.
GDU Byrd Premium 2.0
Take all the best that the Byrd Premium 1.0 has to offer and add in far better connectivity and range, that is the short description of the Byrd Premium 2.0. The machines get about 29 minutes of flight and can haul all sorts of payloads, including a large selection of modular cameras from GDU.
The earlier Byrds relied on WiFi connectivity, where the Byrd Premium steps up to more capable RC connectivity. This is a necessary measure for longer flights.
Check out the GDU Byrd Premium 2.0 for $1049 today.
March 2018Release Date
The GDU O2 announced at a very important time in the consumer drone market. DJI was experiencing great success with the Mavic Pro and had just released the Spark. The GDU O2 bridged the gap in specs and price between these two drones. Unfortunately for GDU, they experienced production delays, giving DJI time to release the Mavic Air. You'll be hard-pressed to find many differences between the GDU O2 and Mavic Air when you read the spec sheet. This remains true when running down the features list as well.
Despite the similarities, and the valiant effort, the GDU O2 could not keep up with the DJI Mavic Air in sales or video quality. Compound that with above average reported battery and gimbal failures, we're sad that the O2 is not everything it appeared it was.
GDU has held firm on their price, the GDU O2 was $732 at launch, and remains so today. They have silently released the GDU O2 Plus as well, with extended remote connectivity range.
GDU O2 Plus
We had a good chat with GDU at CES 2019, they had the new O2 Plus on hand for us to check out. As originally expected and promised, the original O2 offers up to 1 KM of range, the O2 Plus enables HD video streaming up to 7 KM. The extended range makes for a more reliable connection in close range as well. In addition, and perhaps more important, they made some adjustments to the camera gimbal to improve stabilization.
Also, the GDU O2 Plus has double the amount of internal storage over the original O2, that’s now 32GB of space for your photos and video from the sky.
We are still awaiting info on the sales and shipping dates, but the drone exists.
CES 2019 was an exciting time for GDU. They made the O2 Plus official and announced their new commercial platform, the new GDU SAGA. They started with the Byrd platform and revamped almost everything. It would have been a mistake to abandon the folding design of the Byrd, good on GDU for keeping that. The very best of their connectivity and navigation systems are included, but the new array of payloads is the power of this new drone.
You can choose between an infrared camera, normal 4K camera, 10x zoom camera, 30x zoom camera, a loud speaker, spotlight and a gas meter.
We got to see the SAGA fly in a tiny cage at CES, we hope we can see more of it soon so we can tell you all about it.
GDU drones wrap up
Up until the release of the GDU O2, we had unfairly summed up GDU as filling just one segment of the drone market. The Byrd line is robust and offers many capabilities, but it is a large and powerful drone, not ideal for a simple flight in the park or as a hiking companion.
The O2 launched GDU into a new space, one that only an elite few live in right now. Portability in a small and light package with minimal compromise in camera quality.
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again, If you want something small and fun that does okay for video, check out the DJI Spark for about $500. If you want step up to a great camera on a 3-axis gimbal and some of the best flight characteristics of a consumer drone on the market today, grab the DJI Mavic Pro for about $1000. If you want something that sufficiently sits in between the two, offering a 3-axis gimbal and great portability, the GDU O2 is here.
We’re excited for the GDU O2. We hope you are too. Stay tuned for more coverage, we should have a unit in hand soon. In the mean time, don’t forget that the Byrd drone is a highly capable machine for larger operations.
Other drones to consider: