Tech

DJI’s feels-like-flying Avata drone gets comfier and cheaper with Integra goggles

The DJI Avata is my favorite beginner drone. I can’t think of anything easier or more fun to fly, even if it can’t dodge obstacles like a Skydio. But the configuration you probably want to feel like you’re flying costs $1,388 — and requires you to plug a belt clip battery pack into a pair of goggles and use a gyroscopic controller that limits you to flying it like an airplane.

Today, DJI’s introducing a new set of goggles and a new controller that should maintain that core flying experience while also lowering the price of entry to $1,278.

The Integra features the same pair of 0.49-inch / 1080p 100Hz / 700-nit micro OLED displays as the original DJI Goggles 2 that I tested, and the same 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) range using DJI’s OcuSync 3 Plus transmission technology over a pair of folding 2.4GHz / 5GHz antennas at up to 50 megabits per second.

But it’s also simpler in a few ways, some of which you may not appreciate. They’ve got a smaller field of view at 44 degrees versus 51 degrees for the pricier DJI Goggles 2. While you still get IPD adjustment, there’s no more diopter adjustment to help correct your vision. Instead, it looks like DJI will sell dedicated sets of interchangeable lenses to do that job for you. There’s no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so no wirelessly streaming your movies to the headset, not that you’d be comfortable leaning against the headrest on an aircraft with the new big bulge on the headband.

What you might indeed appreciate is that the Integra ditches the belt buckle battery for an integrated headband battery like you might find on a wireless VR headset, one with practically the same capacity (17.64 watt-hours versus 18 watt-hours) as the original. It does make the headset weigh more, at 410g versus 290g, but the weight should hopefully be distributed for better balance than the original — less pulling down on the front of your face. Personally, the reduced field of view is the only spec that worries me.

The new kit also comes with the revised DJI RC Motion 2 controller, which retails for $40 more than the original — adding a brand-new joystick, a new trigger that can be pushed forward as well as pulled backward, and a new Fn dial on the side to adjust ISO, shutter speed, and other variables. The trigger is just like those on a toy R/C car, letting you reverse the drone instead of having to turn around if you get too close to objects, and the joystick lets you move laterally or vertically so you have a full set of quadcopter controls instead of being restricted to airplane-like flight.

It has roughly the same weight, the same range, and the same five-hour battery life.

The new DJI RC Motion 2 costs $239 separately (versus $199 for the original). The DJI Goggles Integra costs $499 separately, compared to $649 for the DJI Goggles 2. And if you still want to buy a kit with those pricier goggles, it’ll now come with the RC Motion 2 as well for $1,428 (up from $1,388). If you want the $1,278 kit, that’s called the DJI Avata Explorer Combo. None of the combos come with extra batteries, I’m afraid.

I’ll leave you with this video of what it was like to fly with the original controller and goggles last year.

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