Product Review – DJI Mavic Pro $999.00

Whether you are (like me) a drone neophyte, or a professional photographer looking for a new angle, the DJI Mavic Pro should certainly be on your short list for a high resolution, beginner-level photo-drone. There are some more advanced models available for much more money, but this little guy packs a big punch in a very small (foldable) package, at only a $999 price. Its features are almost identical to its immediate predecessor (the Phantom 4), but it is quieter and smaller and cheaper, plus it has some added automation modes such as auto-tracking an object on video while the object (a person, car, boat) is moving.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone

My in-laws teamed up with us to buy the Mavic Pro for our 17-year old son, Cooper, for Christmas. Truth be told, a similar drone had been on my personal list as well, but my wife wasn’t going for it. (It’s ok… I’m happy to live vicariously through my teenage son.)

Some of its most salient features are:

  • Very small size - it folds down to the size of a small loaf of bread -perfect for a small backpack
  • Distance - 4+ mile range
  • The ability to basically fly itself, including avoiding objects like trees and buildings in case you’re not 100% confident
  • Stability – with a 3-axis camera gimbal, this device keeps the image very stable, despite wind or operator error
  • 12MP (megapixel) camera with videos created in 4K resolution at 30 FPS (frames per second) - roughly 4x the quality of a 1080P HD TV

This drone is just incredible and one recent, unfortunate incident clearly shows the Mavic’s resilience. My son was flying the drone at The Kent School, in Kent, CT using his cell phone to see where he was going, known as First Person View (FPV) or video piloting. The drone was about 1/8 mile away, flying over the Housatonic River. As he was getting some great footage of the dorms along the river, he began to realize that he was getting too close to some branches along the far side. Because he could not see his real situation in-person, he decided to use the RTH (Return to Home) feature, where all by itself, the drone flies up to a predetermined altitude, flies over to its launch location and then slowly descends safely to the ground, an inch or two from where it took off.

However, Cooper didn’t realize that there were branches directly above where the drone was flying at that time. Although the Mavic has sensors below and in front to detect obstacles, it does not have them on top. Unfortunately for him, his craft was to have a very wet future. Five seconds later he was crushed as he watched on screen, his drone splashing down into the river.

Along with the help of a crew coach and motorboat and three hours later, Cooper was able to find the drone after it was taken by the current and finally came to rest three feet under water. Fearing a total loss, we were ready to activate the accident insurance we purchased (only $100 for 12 months including two incidents, directly from DJI). But luckily, Cooper had purchased a backup battery and when he popped it onto the unit, IT WORKED!!! Months later, this same unit is the one we are using to video crew races and lots of other fun.

For sports teams, the “Live Broadcast” mode is extraordinary. Provided you have good cell coverage while flying, you can press a little menu button, choose Live Broadcast Stream, choose YouTube or Facebook Live (or a few other services), name your broadcast, and then you’re streaming! We used this for eight crew races at Kent School a couple of weeks ago against Andover. With the help of one of the crew coaches, we launched and landed the craft from a boat, and followed each race about 10-15 meters above the kids, streaming the race to people far and wide (even some parents from other countries) who commented as we went. I even saw these comments on my phone screen as the race was progressing. It was surprisingly easy!

During one of the races I got myself into trouble and almost had the same, wet fate as my son. I had to fly lower than I wanted because of the high wind that day, and doing so meant I could not see the drone easily above the trees. Having lost visual contact, I was forced to use only my iPhone screen, but given the glare that day, I got disoriented. Suddenly the radio controller was beeping wildly at me. I had been heading directly for a tree! (My father-in-law had been watching the race live and saw the tree coming. Unfortunately I couldn’t hear his shouting all the way from Baltimore.) Luckily, the Mavic Pro stopped itself and I was able to reverse course to safety.

Flight time is around 27 minutes per battery. We now have four of them in a really cool case ideal for safe travel.

Drone in its Case

During the crew races, we tried doing three races from a single battery. I didn’t realize it, but the drone will start its “Return to Home” (RTH) feature when it descends down to 30% battery power, unless you cancel it or change the default setting. We had launched the drone from a boat at the race start, so when it started beeping loudly at me that it was returning to home, a severe panic set in! Luckily I was able to disable the RTH and safely land the Mavic Pro in the coach’s hand. Disaster was averted.

Having a drone like this requires FAA registration, which is easy and only costs $5.00 on the FAA website. (Penalties for not having it can be severe.) You also have to stay away from airports and certain sensitive zones (like Washington DC), and keep it below 400 feet (which the drone does automatically). It is also highly recommended you put your name and phone number on a label on your unit in case you lose it, but I believe it has a sort of “find my iPhone” feature in case it is lost and still functional.

Flying is incredibly easy. By default, the left joystick controls your altitude (up and down, taking off and landing) and spins the aircraft left and right to aim your camera. The right joystick controls forward, backward, left and right movement. There is also a little slide-wheel to let you aim the camera up and down, so you can fly directly over something for top-down video.

drone controller

The most important/best feature of this and similar drones is their use of GPS (Global Positioning System). You can have the drone 200 feet above the earth and if you just let go of the controller, it stays EXACTLY where you left it. This means if it faces high winds, it will fight hard to remain where it should be. The GPS (and the new Virtual Position – VPS) sensors make it virtually dummy-proof. (I’ve been known to fall into that category plenty of times!)

DJI from China is quite a company. I heard recently that they now have 1,500 research and development engineers working on new products. No wonder this product is so advanced. Just imagine what they might come out with next!

I can’t recommend enough that if you are looking for a camera drone, you should consider the Mavic Pro from DJI, for $999 from http://www.dji.com/mavic.

would you like your own drone icon

LeBlanc Communications Referral Program

Refer us to a friend! Refer us to a large organization for a new phone installation of 75 phones or more and if we become the telecom provider, you'll receive a DJI Mavic Pro Drone! It's that simple!* 

*Terms and Conditions:  It is not our intention to create an unethical situation for anyone receiving this promotion. As such, we cannot provide a drone personally to an employee for influencing the purchase of a phone system for his/her own company, unless we give it to the owner of the private company (or to upper management of a school, non-profit or government agency for the "business" use by that organization, not as a personal give to the referrer). However, this does not apply if someone refers a friend or associate at a different company/organization for which the referrer does not work. Eligible referrals must include closed business in which LeBlanc Communications installs a new phone system of 75 phones or more and becomes the telecom service provider. Limit of one drone per phone system installation. Thank you!

Product Review – DJI Mavic Pro $999.00

Whether you are (like me) a drone neophyte, or a professional photographer looking for a new angle, the DJI Mavic Pro should certainly be on your short list for a high resolution, beginner-level photo-drone. There are some more advanced models available for much more money, but this little guy packs a big punch in a very small (foldable) package, at only a $999 price. Its features are almost identical to its immediate predecessor (the Phantom 4), but it is quieter and smaller and cheaper, plus it has some added automation modes such as auto-tracking an object on video while the object (a person, car, boat) is moving.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone

My in-laws teamed up with us to buy the Mavic Pro for our 17-year old son, Cooper, for Christmas. Truth be told, a similar drone had been on my personal list as well, but my wife wasn’t going for it. (It’s ok… I’m happy to live vicariously through my teenage son.)

Some of its most salient features are:

  • Very small size - it folds down to the size of a small loaf of bread -perfect for a small backpack
  • Distance - 4+ mile range
  • The ability to basically fly itself, including avoiding objects like trees and buildings in case you’re not 100% confident
  • Stability – with a 3-axis camera gimbal, this device keeps the image very stable, despite wind or operator error
  • 12MP (megapixel) camera with videos created in 4K resolution at 30 FPS (frames per second) - roughly 4x the quality of a 1080P HD TV

This drone is just incredible and one recent, unfortunate incident clearly shows the Mavic’s resilience. My son was flying the drone at The Kent School, in Kent, CT using his cell phone to see where he was going, known as First Person View (FPV) or video piloting. The drone was about 1/8 mile away, flying over the Housatonic River. As he was getting some great footage of the dorms along the river, he began to realize that he was getting too close to some branches along the far side. Because he could not see his real situation in-person, he decided to use the RTH (Return to Home) feature, where all by itself, the drone flies up to a predetermined altitude, flies over to its launch location and then slowly descends safely to the ground, an inch or two from where it took off.

However, Cooper didn’t realize that there were branches directly above where the drone was flying at that time. Although the Mavic has sensors below and in front to detect obstacles, it does not have them on top. Unfortunately for him, his craft was to have a very wet future. Five seconds later he was crushed as he watched on screen, his drone splashing down into the river.

Along with the help of a crew coach and motorboat and three hours later, Cooper was able to find the drone after it was taken by the current and finally came to rest three feet under water. Fearing a total loss, we were ready to activate the accident insurance we purchased (only $100 for 12 months including two incidents, directly from DJI). But luckily, Cooper had purchased a backup battery and when he popped it onto the unit, IT WORKED!!! Months later, this same unit is the one we are using to video crew races and lots of other fun.

For sports teams, the “Live Broadcast” mode is extraordinary. Provided you have good cell coverage while flying, you can press a little menu button, choose Live Broadcast Stream, choose YouTube or Facebook Live (or a few other services), name your broadcast, and then you’re streaming! We used this for eight crew races at Kent School a couple of weeks ago against Andover. With the help of one of the crew coaches, we launched and landed the craft from a boat, and followed each race about 10-15 meters above the kids, streaming the race to people far and wide (even some parents from other countries) who commented as we went. I even saw these comments on my phone screen as the race was progressing. It was surprisingly easy!

During one of the races I got myself into trouble and almost had the same, wet fate as my son. I had to fly lower than I wanted because of the high wind that day, and doing so meant I could not see the drone easily above the trees. Having lost visual contact, I was forced to use only my iPhone screen, but given the glare that day, I got disoriented. Suddenly the radio controller was beeping wildly at me. I had been heading directly for a tree! (My father-in-law had been watching the race live and saw the tree coming. Unfortunately I couldn’t hear his shouting all the way from Baltimore.) Luckily, the Mavic Pro stopped itself and I was able to reverse course to safety.

Flight time is around 27 minutes per battery. We now have four of them in a really cool case ideal for safe travel.

Drone in its Case

During the crew races, we tried doing three races from a single battery. I didn’t realize it, but the drone will start its “Return to Home” (RTH) feature when it descends down to 30% battery power, unless you cancel it or change the default setting. We had launched the drone from a boat at the race start, so when it started beeping loudly at me that it was returning to home, a severe panic set in! Luckily I was able to disable the RTH and safely land the Mavic Pro in the coach’s hand. Disaster was averted.

Having a drone like this requires FAA registration, which is easy and only costs $5.00 on the FAA website. (Penalties for not having it can be severe.) You also have to stay away from airports and certain sensitive zones (like Washington DC), and keep it below 400 feet (which the drone does automatically). It is also highly recommended you put your name and phone number on a label on your unit in case you lose it, but I believe it has a sort of “find my iPhone” feature in case it is lost and still functional.

Flying is incredibly easy. By default, the left joystick controls your altitude (up and down, taking off and landing) and spins the aircraft left and right to aim your camera. The right joystick controls forward, backward, left and right movement. There is also a little slide-wheel to let you aim the camera up and down, so you can fly directly over something for top-down video.

drone controller

The most important/best feature of this and similar drones is their use of GPS (Global Positioning System). You can have the drone 200 feet above the earth and if you just let go of the controller, it stays EXACTLY where you left it. This means if it faces high winds, it will fight hard to remain where it should be. The GPS (and the new Virtual Position – VPS) sensors make it virtually dummy-proof. (I’ve been known to fall into that category plenty of times!)

DJI from China is quite a company. I heard recently that they now have 1,500 research and development engineers working on new products. No wonder this product is so advanced. Just imagine what they might come out with next!

I can’t recommend enough that if you are looking for a camera drone, you should consider the Mavic Pro from DJI, for $999 from http://www.dji.com/mavic.

would you like your own drone icon

LeBlanc Communications Referral Program

Refer us to a friend! Refer us to a large organization for a new phone installation of 75 phones or more and if we become the telecom provider, you'll receive a DJI Mavic Pro Drone! It's that simple!* 

*Terms and Conditions:  It is not our intention to create an unethical situation for anyone receiving this promotion. As such, we cannot provide a drone personally to an employee for influencing the purchase of a phone system for his/her own company, unless we give it to the owner of the private company (or to upper management of a school, non-profit or government agency for the "business" use by that organization, not as a personal give to the referrer). However, this does not apply if someone refers a friend or associate at a different company/organization for which the referrer does not work. Eligible referrals must include closed business in which LeBlanc Communications installs a new phone system of 75 phones or more and becomes the telecom service provider. Limit of one drone per phone system installation. Thank you!