Autel Evo 2 Initial Review. Is it Finally a Mavic Killer?

autel evo 2 review

Well folks, the drone world in 2020 is going to get pretty exciting with a number of new models coming out, none of which (at this time at least) are from DJI and I like that.

Among the lineup of new drones that were officially announced at CES, the one which personally interested me and pretty much most of the drone world was the Autel Evo 2.

autel evo 2 review

There were “leaked” specs prior to the official announcement, but it wasn’t until CES took place, that we found out the leaks were true, and they basically told the following story about the Autel Evo 2:

  • That it would have a 40 minute flight time.
  • That it would have an insane range of 16 KM.
  • That it’s camera would be able to film at up to 8K footage and that it would be incredibly sharp.
  • That it would have no geo fencing (like the original Autel Evo).
  • That it would have 6 sides of obstacle detection.
  • That it would be able to take 48 megapixel photos.
  • And that it would also be able to follow people at a level close if not as good as Skydio 2.

Now all of these specs tell a pretty important story and that is that this new model, at least on paper does destroy the Mavic 2 Pro (and obviously Zoom). 

But here’s why at least for now, the Autel Evo 2 is not a Mavic killer…

Based on what I saw from initial reviews out there from people who HAD already be given this model to review and released their reviews on the day of CES, I have to say, thus far, the Mavic kill story is still a bit farfetched and I’ll explain why that is in a moment and I will show video comparison proof of what I saw that makes me say this…

But let me make something clear:

I was one of the many people anxiously awaiting the announcement of this model since the leaks came out. Since I own 5 DJI drones (a Mavic 2 Pro being one of them) and have considered numerous times on buying the original Autel Evo, I had elected to wait until the second version was released and when I heard the same specs I listed above, I was almost entirely sold. I was ready to buy this drone model on day 1.

But this is where I turn back to the reviewers who were given this drone before it’s official release and showed me their comparison videos, some of which compared the footage of the Autel Evo 2 to the Mavic 2 Pro. And well, I wasn’t impressed.

In fact, I though the Mavic 2 Pro footage was far better, and considering how it’s camera is close but not as good as the Phantom 4 Pro’s, which in my opinion is at this point in time the best drone camera out of any I’ve seen, that says something about the superiority DJI still holds in this market.

Now let me actually show you the video that made me believe this (Autel Evo 2 vs Mavic 2 Pro):

Now let’s get some things straight…

This is where Autel Evo 2 absolutely wins against the Mavic 2 Pro:

  • It can definitely fly further.
  • It can definitely stay in the air longer.
  • You will be able to change the 3 different cameras this drone has available for it (it’s easier to switch them than with DJI’s model).
  • Not that it needs to be said, but I’ll say it: This model already beats the original Mavic Pro, Mavic Air, the Mini, and more. So you can think of this is a victory for Autel in the “Mavic killer department”.

But compared to the Mavic 2 Pro, there are thus far only 2 obvious advantages you can spot right away, but as for the camera being better? 8K or not, I did not see it being better than the footage in the Mavic 2 Pro.

In fact, I saw the opposite, both for the video AND photo comparison:

The Mavic shows far more details, contrast and structure. You can tell me what you think below regarding this comparison.

Here’s the silver lining though: There’s 3 versions of the Autel Evo. 

You have the regular Autel Evo 2 model, which is the one you saw in the video above being tested against the Mavic 2 Pro.

You have the Autel Evo Pro which has not yet been released, so there’s no footage to compare yet, but this is the one I am most hopeful for. This is the model whose camera has a 1 inch sensor and likely the one which will give the Mavic 2 Pro’s camera a run for it’s money at least.

Then you have the third camera which is basically the same as Mavic 2 Enterprise’s version of things. But I don’t know enough about that one to make any comparisons. 

And the beauty is that you, the consumer will be able to buy these cameras and switch them to the same Autel Evo 2 body as you like without having to ship it to the dealer like you would with DJI.

If these 5 things are true with Autel Evo 2 (Pro), then it will be a Mavic killer:

1) If it’s 1 inch sensor camera is truly as good if not better than the Mavic 2 Pro’s camera (this is pending).

2) If it’s overall performance is better than the Mavic 2 Pro (this is so far the case, so we can add 1 point).

3) If it’s sensors perform as well as the MP2 if not better (this still has to be tested).

4) If it doesn’t have so many bugs when it comes out (this happened with the first generation model and it’s still pending).

5) If it’s autonomous flight modes like tracking are better and more intelligent than the MP2 and on the level of Skydio 2 (still this is pending).

If all of these 5 things will be prevalent with the Pro model, then I will officially call it a Mavic killer and I will definitely buy it. So far, because there are uncertainties, and I believe the regular Autel Evo 2 is not as good at the Mavic 2 Pro, I can’t make this claim.

But I am still hopeful because I own only DJI models for now and for the longest time have wanted to make sure that the 6th model in my collection is a none DJI product. 

Whatever happens, you’ll probably be hearing the following a lot from other drone enthusiasts and that is with this influx of new drone models into the market, DJI will be pushed to stay at the top, and this means we’ll likely be getting some seriously awesome models from them (A possible Mavic 3).  

What’s The Best Phantom 4 Drone – Original, Advanced, Pro or V2.0?

phantom 4 models

There are currently 5 different versions of the Phantom 4 drone model. Each one has it’s own specs, perks and reasons to get it. 

This article is going to give you a full breakdown of each existing Phantom 4 model, what their pros are and help you decide which one to buy. As of 2018, MANY of these models are actually discontinued by DJI, but you can still get them in popular stores like Wal Mart and Best Buy.

The thing to note is that:

All of these models have the exact same frame, are the same exact size and have the same type of controller (except the final version which has a custom one).

Where they differ is when you start to compare their camera, their flight capabilities, sensors and so on… 

We’ll begin from ranking the “lowest” tier drone and work our way up to the most high end one.

A) Phantom 4: 80 out of 100 stars. 

phantom 4 regular specs

Despite being the original and technically the least high end model out of the rest, it is a great drone. It has a 12+ MP camera, flies for well over 20 minutes and has incredible range. It only has 2 sensors though (which at the time was actually quite a high end perk). 

Now I want to point out that despite saying “lowest tier”, it’s only when you frame it in comparison to the same models in it’s class. This is by NO means a BAD or even GOOD drone, it’s a GREAT drone and it is highly recommended if your budget cannot go beyond into the other ones…

Honestly, if $1,000 is your budget, I’d get the Autel Evo instead of the P4 since it’s more portable and has a better camera. And I also have to say that the original Mavic Pro also shoots better than the regular P4 as well, but I recommend Autel because I think it’s better than the Mavic Pro.

Price: $1,000.

B) Phantom 4 Advanced: 90 out of 100 stars. 

phantom 4 advanced specs

The advanced Phantom (there is a P4 plus version too) has a longer flight time than the regular one, a MUCH better camera camera (20 MP) and a bigger ISO range, meaning it can adjust more easily to light changes and produce a better quality image/video. 

With an extra 10 points that reflects the higher quality, flight time and other specs, the advanced model is indeed more advanced the regular one before it. 

Price: $1,300.

C) Phantom 4 Pro: 95 out of 100 stars.

phantom 4 pro specs

I personally own one of these and I would say it matches the advanced in every way EXCEPT when you take into consideration how many sensors it has. The advanced has 2, the pro has 5, other than that, the specs in every other area are completely identical. Other than that, it’s the same 20 MP camera and same flight capabilities. 

A lot of people debate between this model and the advanced. Again, the only difference is that you have more sensors with this one. Does that make an extra $200 this will cost worth it? Well I say yes because most fliers are either beginners or intermediate and having extra sensors provides more security for your flight, that’s one of the reasons I got this one and not the advanced. Otherwise, you’re looking at the exact same thing in terms of quality imaging and video.

Price: $1,500.

D) P4P +. 95 out of 100 stars too.

phantom 4 pro plus specs

The 4th version of these models is the one that comes with the custom controller. This model is the Phantom 4 Pro mixed in with a controller that has a special tablet built into it. This controller is far more bright and easier to set up vs connecting your phone/tablet.

However, I do rate it the same as the model above it because this special tablet does take up a lot of battery life. Also from what I know, this controller cannot fold like the others, meaning it’s harder to pack it and it does take up more space. 

Price: $1,800. 

5) Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. 95 out of 100 stars.

This is the only one out of the 5 which is still in production by DJI, but when the Phantom 5 comes out, it’s safe to assume this one will also be discontinued. 

Anyway, the 2.0 model is literally the exact same thing as the P4P, but with quieter propellers, a 1 minute extra of flight time and a better, more stable connection between the remote and the drone. Learn more here.

One good way to classify these drones and pick the right one for you:

Starting from the first one, each drone following it has more and more perks but understand that after the 1st one (the regular Phantom), you will get the exact same quality of filming, ISO, flight time and speed:

That being a 20 MP camera that shoots in 4K and up to 60 mbps, which is crazy, compared to the 12.4 which is a nearly 2x “downgrade”. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a 12 MP camera. My Mavic has this and I love the imagery, but for an extra few hundred, you WILL get a far higher quality camera and you WILL notice the difference, believe me. 

That’s why despite the 1st model on this list being GREAT, it’s still a class lower than the next 3 following it which is why if you’re going to make a choice, I would at the very least consider the advanced or higher, the only difference then would be extra sensors and a customized remote, absent that, the rest is identical. 

Also to note is that the battery on EACH model fits in the others, BUT the regular (first) Phantom battery has a shorter flight time, whereas the next 3 models have the same, longer flight time. 

But of course, depending on the budget you have, you may consider some of the higher end models a bit too much. If that is the case, I would honestly consider saving the money needed and at the very least, getting an advanced version, especially if you really want to get that better camera.

The comparison chart of all models, simplified:

I didn’t put in the 2.0 model because it’s literally the same as the P4P, with the extra perks of connection and quiet propellers (which can be purchased separately and fit ANY P4 model by the way).

Do any of these models make for a better flight experience?

Well that depends on your skill as a pilot. Like I said before, they all have the same frame and controls so it’s not like you’d have a different experience piloting each model. If you’re into speed, the advanced and above models do fly faster, whether it be in regular or sport mode. 

If you’re a good pilot and don’t like flying in risky areas, you would have more “insurance” from a P4P and the plus one after it.

I personally like the insurance of having the sensors on 5 sides and in my experience they work quite well (The Mavic 2 Pro has 6). Certain flights I have require that I turn off one or more of them, otherwise the drone will refuse to fly through it and I won’t be able to get my video/image, but I do consider myself a pretty careful flier in general. Still, having the sensors just in case is a big deal to me personally.

This is after all a very expensive drone to get so if you do play it safe or see yourself as a risky flier, I would consider the P4P or higher. 

Otherwise, know that all of these models are a GREAT choice. The Phantom series is one of the best in all of the drone industry. 

The Danger of Flying Drones in Hot Weather Explained

dangers of flying drones in hot weather

Lots of people ask questions about flying drones in cold weather, but for some reason, when it comes to hot weather, this doesn’t get a lot of questions.

It’s actually just as likely that issues can happen as when it gets cold and you need to understand the dangers of flying you drone in hot conditions and ways to prevent potential issues from happening.

So first, let’s talk about the dangers and then ways to make sure they don’t happen:

dangers of flying drones in hot weather

These are the most common dangers you’ll experience:

1) The first danger posed is to the batteries themselves. 

Overheating is a REAL issue that can happen. On their own, batteries warm up normally when they are used, but when you add warm weather or are flying in areas where the sun is shining right on the model, it will absolutely raise the temperature of them, causing them to drain faster or worse, malfunction. 

Even in cold weather, batteries are affected too.

2) The second danger is to the model itself.

There isn’t much technology out there that can withstand extreme weather, be it warm or cold and drones are certainly not on that list. Keeping them exposed to the sun or in places like a car while in the middle of a warm summer day can really pose some huge risks.

Let’s not forget things like the trunk or a car, a garage or something similar. These places are saunas for drones…

Ok, so these 2 dangers are the most common/obvious. But what can you do? 

So there’s actually a lot of things that can be done to prevent these 2 scenarios from happening and most of it comes down to proper planning and intelligently flying around when these dangers aren’t likely to happen.

So here’s 10 safety tips:

1) Don’t keep your drone in places where it’s likely to overheat, whether it’s on or off.

Don’t keep it in car trunks when it’s hot out, don’t keep it in garages that aren’t ventilated or kept at a particularly cool temperature. Don’t keep it places where it gets warm is the main message here…

Batteries tend to not just overheat, but they can actually expand and cause damage to the drone if they are kept in hot areas for too long. You DON’T want this to happen. If this scenario takes place, you are risking the life of BOTH the battery and drone at the same time. Just DON’T make it more likely to happen by being irresponsible and leaving it in places where this can happen…

2) Try not to fly when the day is at it’s hottest or the sun is shining right on the drone.

Your drone would basically be a bulls eye for heat problems to take place if you did. Now for people who often fly, this kind of convenience isn’t always available, but if you have to do this, don’t do it for a long period of time. Try to fly around for a few minutes, take the shots you want as quickly as possible and return home.

3) Fly when it’s early out or getting close to sunset.

These periods generally are a lot cooler than during the mid part of the day when it’s guaranteed to be hot. Flying earlier or later in this case means a 10 or even 20 degree temperature change and believe me, that has a VASTLY positive effect on your drone’s health, including it’s battery.

4) Fly in the shade if you can.

300 fans may look at this as a pun, but hey I had to say it. Flying in the shade means flying in cooler temperatures, so try to do that if you can. 

5) Monitor your drone’s temperature if that option is available.

DJI models for example have this awesome capability where you can monitor what temperature your drone is at in real time. If it bypasses say 40 degrees celsius for example, it’s time to come back and let it cool down.

6) When you decide to come back and switch batteries, let the drone cool down.

If it’s hot out and it comes back, you better believe it’s going to be hot too. Let it cool down for 15-20 minutes before using the next battery to fly with. This applies to both the model AND the battery. By the way, you also need to know that batteries have their own care tips to consider. Here they are.

7) If you choose to recharge a battery after it’s flown in warm temperatures, let it cool down too.

NEVER instantly recharge a battery right after it’s been used. Let it cool down for the same 15-20 minutes before plugging it in.

8) Don’t try to cool down the battery or drone by placing it in a freezer or aiming an AC right on it.

Rapid changes in temperature can cause damage to the model if you do this, let it cool down in warm/cool environments naturally before using it again.

9) If you’re traveling and it’s too hot to leave your model in the car, take it with you.

This may be a hassle, but it beats having a broken model to worry about. I’ve had to do this on hikes where I parked my car right out in the sun and had to decided on whether or not to take my model with me. Leaving it inside the car meant leaving it in hot temperatures and potentially having it stolen. And leaving it in the trunk just raised the odds that it would overheat anyway, so the safest bet was to take it with me. 

In these cases, if you have large models like a Phantom, use this kind of backpack, it’ll make it more comfortable to carry. Small models like the Mavic Pro have these convenient cases you can use.

10) When flying in areas like the beach, consider the above 9 things and more.

The beach is another layer of things to consider when it comes to safety (water among other dangers). Not only are the main dangers present, but you’re also looking at issues like sand and interrupting people’s private time. Since hot weather and beaches go together, it’s often the case that people fly in those areas so if you’re one of the many doing this, here’s extra tips specifically for the beach to consider.

And I also say this because I have a trip coming up when flying in hot weather and on the beach is going to happen pretty often and I’m taking 4 drones with me, so this is why I came up with this list. I hope it’s going to help you maintain your model’s health!

5 Mavic Air Accessories You Can’t Fly Without!

mavic air accessories

For every single drone I own, I always do an article where I specify must have items you should get if you own the same model. Now it’s the Mavic Air’s turn and today I want to specify 5 that are very important for it’s safety, things that will improve the quality if your flights and more. 

mavic air accessories

 

Now despite saying that you “can’t fly without them”, the truth is you can, but the Mavic Air, despite being great for filming does come with it’s own list of cons and these accessories help make up for them.

1) Car charger, specifically for the Mavic Air batteries.

One thing I’ll never understand is why the Mavic Air, which came out after the Spark doesn’t have the same ability to charge via USB. It’s honestly a step down in that regard, but never the less, here we are with this limited function. So if you travel a lot and don’t have a place to charge your batteries, get a car charger for it. Here is a good one.

2) Range boosters.

I’ve recommended these for the Mavic Pro, the Spark and now I also recommend them for the Mavic Air. Like I said in my article with the accessories I recommend for the Spark, the same range boosters there also fit the controller of this model too. 

Now let’s talk for a second about the range. While it is listed at 4KM, and while that’s awesome for such a small model, it will likely never get there unless you have range boosters and/or your surroundings perfectly suite a long range flight.

Add to it the fact that the Mavic Air also connects via WiFi (Lightbridge & ocusync are better) and you’ve got a lot of potential range issues. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the range is bad, but the fact that it’s WiFi really limits it’s abilities, although I have to say, I’ve been impressed with how far I’ve flown with it.

Never the less, get range boosters because there’s more wrong things that can happen when you fly with this thing such as transmission issues than the possibility of flying far with it. The range boosters may very well help you reach the 4KM range.

3) Beginners/risky fliers, get yourself propeller guards! 

This drone is too valuable to crash! Invest in cheap propeller guards! The good news is that this drone has safety sensors on 3 sides (front, back and bottom), but the sides are exposed and these things will cover that up fairly well. 

Now I’ve written many times about how you shouldn’t always use propeller guards such as in open areas, but in tight ones, keep them handy. I’ve had my share of risky flights and I wouldn’t recommend going through that stress or worse. 

4) The red “ankle wire”.

Since I purchased this wire, I’ve never used the default ones which came with my drones and that’s because this wire creates a much more dependable connection between the transmission and your drone’s camera, meaning it’ll lose connection/image a lot less.

Take for example, the Mavic Pro. It came with a loose, black wire which you attached to the side. I liked it and was careful with it, but I did have numerous situations where my connection was flaky or just lost. Ever since I got the anker wire, this has NOT happened. As it worked for that drone, so too will it work for this one. 

Think of this as another way to maintain a stronger more reliable connection with your Mavic Air, in addition to those range boosters.

5) Have at least 1 extra battery.

If this is your only drone, then you’re going to eventually get tired of running out of battery juice quickly. Have at least 1 battery ready to go. When it lands, take off the one that’s inside, let it cool down (this is important for the battery health!), then replace it with the new one, and charge the original while it’s in flight. That way you can have one consistent flight after another going on.

Do note, I did say you should let the used up battery cool down and I wasn’t kidding. If you’re not already aware of how important it is, read this post about taking care of drone batteries. This will really help you keep the battery lasting longer and keeping the drone safe as well. Read that article! 

And these are my top 5 accessories you should ideally have handy when flying with the Mavic Air. I’ve had this drone for several months now and I love it, but I also understand how there’s situations where it needs one or more of these accessories to maintain that quality of flight.

Loose connections, short flight time, image transmission issues and no where to charge it up are all very common things you can run into when using this model and you’re going to have a more fun time when you invest a little money in these things.

And on the subject of that, let’s talk about the accessory prices:

  • The range boosters are about $10-$20. 
  • The car charger is about $15.
  • The wire is about $5.
  • The propeller guards are about $20.
  • And finally the extra battery is about $50.

Aside from the battery, the rest are quite inexpensive, but they really help protect what is essentially an $700 drone. I always advise if you don’t already own this model, to get a combo pack so you can have way more accessories, one of which is 2 extra batteries, a carrying case and way more.

You will save a lot of money and in regards to the accessories, the only thing left would be the range boosters and wire, something that would cost under $30 together. As for the propeller guards and batteries, the combo pack includes them, so a majority of the higher costs are covered in this fly more combo. 

But if you already got yourself the basic drone package, you can always buy the other accessories individually. That’s my list, thanks for reading!

3 Accessories Your DJI Spark Needs!

dji spark accessories

Every good drone needs specific accessories to maximize it’s safety, filming potential and more. For the Spark, it is no different. Here are 3 accessories I have come to love when it comes to this drone and why I highly recommend them. 

1) Range extenders/signal boosters. 

As an owner of a DJI Spark, I have to say…the range sucks (it uses a fairly unreliable WiFi connection and I’d say the Mavic Mini’s would be better, which is close to the Spark in size).

While the advertised range is about 2 KM, there are very little chances that you’ll even make it to half that. I live in areas with a lot of interference and often fly in areas with a lot of trees, hills and other nature type obstacles. And this drone is NOT meant for long distance flights…

I have lost my signal on multiple occasions within about 100 feet and even while I could still see the drone.

Now I have to admit, that a big issue was that I had to keep updating the firmware, once even for the batteries which I think is an absurd thing since no other model I own requires this, but still, even when everything was fine, the range still wasn’t that good.

Now if you plan on flying in open areas or live in such an area, you should be fine, but I would still recommend you get these for a few reasons:

A) The Spark connects via WiFi and that is often a flaky connection. You can reduce this issue by using the remote to fly it, but with signal boosters, your range potential extends by about 2x at least. That makes it more reliable when it’s flying in areas where you are at risk of losing that connection (and possibly the drone).

B) Signal boosters for this drone can also be used on the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air, since they have the same type of remote. So if you already own one of these other models, rest easy knowing these signal boosters are going to be transferable to the other remotes.

C) It’s under $10, super cheap and a good add on to have.

Get the extenders here.

2) Propeller guards.

The Spark is honestly one of the easiest drones to fly, but you know what can happen anytime. A beginner could lose control, you could accidentally hit sports mode (I have and I consider myself experienced) without realizing it and crash it.

Another argument for having these that I use is that if you’re flying in tight spaces, while the size of the Spark certainly helps reduce the risk of a crash, having that extra safety with the propeller guards on is just less nerves lost.

I also want to note that I recommend propeller guards for every single drone I do an accessory article on. I’m just that kind of flyer that loves to have that insurance with me. Get them here.

3) Extra batteries.

Well let’s face it, the flight time on the Spark is pretty bad. I get about 10 minutes on average. Getting an extra battery or two is really going to help, especially if you enjoy flying around a lot. I personally have 3 of them.

Note: You can get the propeller guards and extra batteries included if you get yourself a fly more combo. Here is a link to it.

Side note: Why only 3 accessories?

Usually with other drone models, I typically advise getting 5 accessories and most of them are just for safety (I don’t use ND filters). 

Well my whole thing with this particular drone is that you’re probably not going to film professionally, although I have to say, you can get incredible footage with it as it stands, and you can also use programs to upscale the footage from 1080 to 4k and then it’ll look quite crisp. I honestly think people just don’t give the Spark enough credit here.

But this is off topic, I honestly think that this is a drone where safety and convenience is the more important focus and the 2 big negatives with this drone are it’s lack of good range, it’s short battery life and the situation in which it can crash in tight spots.

And I am saying this as someone who has been in these situations, so to negate those problems, these 3 accessories are going to suite you just fine.

As for other things I usually recommend with other models, like car chargers, you don’t need that with the Spark, you can just use a USB wire and connect it to your car and bam, you’ve got a charger. This is something DJI got very right when they made this model.

Now if you’re not even the type who enjoys filming with the Spark, no problem, you don’t have to get any of these accessories, but I’ll tell you this much:

They make flying a lot less stressful. You never know when you decide to fly the Spark beyond it’s beginner friendly and palm modes. I know I have.

That was one of the reasons I elected to get the fly more combo and save money. The good news is that this combo is a lot less expensive now than it was before (probably because of the introduction of the Mavic Air and expectations of the Mavic Pro 2 and Autel Evo coming out soon).

But if you already have a regular Spark and didn’t get the fly more combo, I would really recommend the next accessory:

Get a remote.

Flying with the phone sucks. It’s unreliable, especially for beginner flyers. And you’re talking a 100 foot distance vs several 1,000 feet (potentially) as well as the speed of the drone increasing. The price of a remote is about $100+ but like I said, it comes with the fly more combo if you don’t already own a Spark. And if you do, and want to take your flying to the next level, but can’t afford another drone, the remote is a wise investment, trust me.

Anyway these are my recommended accessories. If you own a Spark and have your own list that you believe would work well in addition to this one, let me know 🙂

Perhaps there’s an accessory worth adding to this list that I don’t already have or thought of that you might, maybe it saved your drone and/or made flying better for filming. Either way, I’d love to know your personal list.