CES wrapped up on January 10th, 2020, but our drone footage took as week longer to publish. There were a few new machines, and some interesting new technologies from the show floor. Bottom line, 2020 is off to a solid start, we can’t wait to see what drones come next.
Our highlights from the show include the 8K camera of the new Autel Robotics Evo II, the versatility of the PowerVision PowerEgg X and the DSLR-level camera of the XDynamics Evolve 2. The V-Copter was pretty cool as well.
We started our adventures at DJI, they did not have anything new at the show, but this was the first public event for the Mavic Mini, and we gave them an award for their Robomaster S1 robot.
DJI Mavic Mini
November 2019Release Date
With a long list of drones that start with the name Mavic, DJI has launched yet another consumer machine, perhaps their most consumer friendly yet, the new, very compact, folding DJI Mavic Mini.
As the name implies, the DJI Mavic Mini is a very small machine, and in true DJI fashion, it has few compromises to make it all work. The first thing to note is that the Mavic Mini weighs less than 0.55 lbs, which means you do not need to register it with the FAA before flight. Registration is quick and easy, but not requiring it at all is a bonus.
Related reading: DJI Mavic Mini review
Reminder: You may not have to register the Mavic Mini, but it's still a drone, you still have to follow the rules!
Don't let the small size fool you, this drone packs a 12MP camera, shoot 2.7K video from a 3-axis stabilized Gimbal and has all of the flight features you'd expect from a Mavic drone today.
With an 8K camera option, backed by a 6K camera with 1-inch sensor, the Autel Robotics Evo II is a step above most drones today. Rocking 40 minutes of flight time, and improved range, we’re excited to take control of the sticks, put this new camera beast to the test.
Autel Robotics Evo II
January 2020Release Date
The Autel Robotics Evo II (Evo 2) is an exciting update to the initial Evo. Sharing much of the same ideology for form-factor and flight characteristics, the newer machine is an update in almost every way. Primarily, pilots should be excited for 40 minute flight times, extended connectivity range, and an 8K camera. Sure, you can upgrade to a Pro model that has a larger sensor and only a 6K camera, but base model Evo II buyers are getting their hands on one of the first consumer products to shoot 8K video, not just drones, one of the first, period.
This orange folding drone is a machine that satisfies consumers, but also tackles commercial and professional needs. Notably, the top model of the new Evo II line comes with a dual-camera configuration, sporting an 8K sensor and a decent IR camera. The base model and the commercial model each get that 1/2-inch 8K sensor, while the pro model gets a full 1-inch 6K sensor. They can all send the camera feed back to the Autel Robotics Live Deck, for your studio and independent recording needs as well.
The Autel Robotics Evo II will be available in early 2020 starting at $1495. Exact prices and availability yet to be announced.
Next up is the XDynamics Evolve 2. It may be tough to justify this machine as a fun flyer, but serious aerial cinematographers should take a look. Powered by a micro four thirds camera sensor, you can swap out lenses to get the best shot from the sky. It would be fair to compare the Evolve 2 to the DJI Inspire 2, if that helps put things into perspective.
XDynamics Evolve 2
April 2020Release Date
The XDynamics Evolve 2 drone offers a carbon fiber fuselage and propeller arms with magnesium undercarriage, plenty of power and flight time, and a slick micro four thirds camera. The payload makes the purpose of this machine very clear, this is a high-end camera drone.
The original Evolve drone was a good stepping stone for the company, but now that they've learned how the market works, we're glad to see the huge jump from a 1/2.3-inch camera up to a micro 4/3 system. The camera we use to record our videos for the site, the Panasonic GH5, is the same size of sensor, and cost close to the same price as the Evolve 2, with lenses. we have very high hopes for a machine with a camera of this caliber, and we look forward to putting some of our lenses on this drone. The XDynamics Evolve 2 also offers crazy connection range, clocking over six miles of connectivity. Laws make it hard to use this in the Unites States, but waivers can be had, and other countries can take advantage of this.
The XDynamics Evolve 2 is set for April 2020 release with a price of $3,699. You can pre-order today for $50 down.
The PowerVision PowerEgg X may appear as an average mid-range consumer drone on paper, but the well thought out features and accessories make this machine very functional. Use it as a drone, strip it down to use it as a camcorder, hand strap included, or enclose it in its shell and attach the floats to make this a waterproof drone that can land on water. Pretty cool!
PowerVision PowerEgg X
January 2020Release Date
The folks at PowerVision first captured attention with their Dolphin underwater drone, a submarine, of sorts. Their PowerEgg flying drone was a cool design, but the PowerVision PowerEgg X is a versatile machine that embraces some extra features we might have inadvertently used drones for from time to time. In addition to having a dedicated shell that allows the drone to fly in the rain, and floats to let it land and take off from water, the PowerEgg X breaks down into a compact form-factor, embracing its ability to operate as a camcorder.
Attach the hand strap to get a basic camcorder feel from your PowerEgg X drone. That's a 3-axis stabilized Gimbal, 4K camera with object tracking functions to automate some of your cinematography.
Aside from that, we enjoyed a chat with Whitefox, talking about their Scorpion 2 and other counter-drone technologies. The teams at Robosea and Chasing had their fun submersible drones on hand again, including the big shark. Fluidity gave us a fun update to their systems, reminding us to process the firmware updates and stay tuned to what comes next — Flying cars!
Don’t forget Swellpro, the Spry+ has promise!
January 2019Release Date
Swellpro announced the Spry, waterproof drone, at CES 2019, followed by the Spry+ at CES 2020. Compared to their previous models, this is a compact machine that floats on water and enjoys time in the sky. The 4K camera sits inside of a waterproof housing that submerges below the surface when the drone sits on water. You can fully submerge the drone, but it does not dive on its own, it's made to float. The Spry+ puts the GPS antenna in the disk on top, enabling better connectivity even while the drone is mostly submerged.
In case things go wrong, the remote control is also waterproof and made to float, making the Swellpro Spry one of the only drones you can safely take out surfing and kayaking, never mind boating or just flying at the lake.
Check out the SwellPro Spry+ for $987.
The folks at Zero Zero Robotics were very popular, as the V-Copter drone captured the imagination of many. A fairly simple drone, if you ignore the 40 minute flight time and the fact that it only has two propellers.
We did not manage to connect with the team behind the Micro Drone 4.0. They were there and looked excited about their machine, but we’ll have to wait to get our hands on one to try it out.
Last, we had a solid chat with Brendan Schulman of DJI. We enjoy these regular chats about drone laws, and this year was packed with the topic of Remote ID and upcoming changes to hobby pilot certification.
We hope you enjoyed our coverage of CES 2020. This isn’t the premiere show for drones, so please stay tuned later in the year for AUVSI Xponential and Interdrone, if nothing else.
Thanks again, fly safe!