The Ghost Drone 2.0 VR is embracing two of the industries hottest buzz words, Drones & Virtual Reality. The VR headset which provides a first person view through the 4K gimballed camera attached to the bottom of the drone and is controlled via an app on a iOS or Android smartphone. There’s also a version of the drone available that ships without the VR headset and it’s much cheaper at $399 (vs $525 with the headset) so it’s really worth reading on to finding out if the headset is truly useful.
The drone itself is fairly lightweight and portable, making it easy to transport to the various locations you want to explore, weighing in at just over 1KG at 1150g. Our one critic of the design is that the legs seem a little too long, thin and flimsy, they don’t pop off to avoid breaking if there is a crash and I don’t feel as if they’d survive more than one overly firm landing.
An interesting feature of the Ghost Drone 2.0 VR is that it features self-tightening propellers that shouldn’t come loose mid-flight. This is combined with “high-efficiency downward facing brushless motors” help to increase the stability of the drone to help with windy days, although we wouldn’t want to go flying it in more than a light breeze. This is especially true if you’re taking video, the propellers seem to engulf half the display whenever the wind picked up or when we were flying faster than a gentle crawl.
EHANG claims that the drone can reach distances of 500m+ thanks to the combined use of the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies, providing both stability and range. It reached heights of around 50-60m fairly quickly and without any real effort from the drone. We never lost visual contact with the drone.
The VR headset acts as the middle-man between the smartphone and the drone, both the phone and the drone connect to the Wi-Fi connection broadcast by the headset. This also means that you have to have the VR headset with you at all times, even if you have no plan to use it during the flight.
EHANG Ghost Drone 20. VR Specifications
• Max Ascent: 2.5m per second
• Speed: about 37 miles per hour
• Battery: 4,500 mAh
• control accuracy: for angles: 0.1°
• Max altitude: 3,000 feet (914 m)
• Flight time: 25 minutes but variable depending on conditions
• Connectivity: USB, WiFi
• Camera: gimbal-mountable spherical camera with 4K video recording and 12MP still shooting
• Camera aperture: 2.8
• Lens viewing angle: 93 degrees
• Camera Resolution: 4K ultra HD 3840 x 2160
• Recording Media: Micro SD
• Automated Flight features: Return-to-home, Vertical pull-up, Rotating Lift, Side track, Selfie, Orbit and Follow-me
• Weight: 1.5 lbs
• wingspan: 13.8 inches, 35 cm
• Controller: smartphone application for Android & iOS devices with G-box included
Controls and Navigation
EHANG prides itself on the fact that people with little or no experience can easily fly the Ghost Drone 2.0 VR and we largely agree with this, it comes with many video tutorials that will help out the most novice flyer. There are two flying modes – waypoint and manual. The app recommends that you complete at least three flights in waypoint mode before going full manual. Even if you have experience flying completing the runs gives drone operators new and old an opportunity to become familiar with the drone and the app. Waypoint mode is incredibly easy to use and is recommended for novice users, simply tap to mark your waypoint on a map and the drone will fly there, leaving you free to control the camera to get your perfect video or photo. There is also a Follow me mode that works quite well, but it feels like a bit of a gimmick and if you’re not into extreme sports then it’s not of much use. It also tends to over shoot if you slow down and it doesn’t quite keep you at the center of the video as we kept on experiencing during our tests.
The manual mode is where things start to get really interesting. While many drones that use smartphones as controllers provide on-screen control, EHANG uses the built-in gyroscope to control the drone. The controls are intuitive and thanks to built-in algorithms that counter human errors during flight even if thing aren’t going perfectly it probably won’t crash. We do think it’s neat to see the drone tilt and swivel with the phone but it’s not good enough to actually fly it. Cool idea, that could get better in the future, personally this concept makes me think there should have been a glove, but of course, there would need to be some safeguards for nose or butt scratching.
The on-screen controls in both wayward or manual aren’t good enough really execute on your own cinematic shots, but the built in flight modes work very well and do all the work for you. There are 6 kinds of flight modes: Vertical pull-up, Rotating Lift, Side track, Selfie, Orbit and Follow-me. You can see examples of a few of these in the review video.
Video & Photo Quality
In terms of video quality, we were fairly impressed by the color reproduction and amount of detail provided, although, with such an f2.8 aperture, the quality of the video decreases as the amount of light does but it still looks very good. It performed okay at dusk, but better on clear, sunny days it really did produce some stunning footage. While the 93-degree wide-angle lens provides users with a grander image than with a standard lens, the curvature in the lens is noticeable when panning.
Both videos and photos are stored on the drone itself on a MicroSD card (64GB card supplied) and is assessable via an alternate Wi-Fi network whenever the drone isn’t in use. While this allows easy access to your photos and videos, it also means that you’re unable to preview them mid-flight as you’re required to stay connected to the main Wi-Fi connection at all times. You’re also required to access the SD card on a computer for full-res videos, as you’ll only get 240p variants via the app.
The Ghost Drone 2.0 VR is capable of capturing full 4K at 24fps, 2.5K at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 120fps. It’s also capable of taking 12MP photos.
Is the VR Headset Useful?
If looking like king of the nerds has value then yes, this headset is the bees knees. But it’s not comfortable to wear and the display resolution is quite low. You also need to hold it to your face to cover the gaps of light on the side and get it into the perfect position to see the display.
We do agree that it makes sense to be able to control the drone by tilting it, as you wouldn’t be able to wear the provided VR headset and look at on-screen controls at the same time. And we did find that it’s most useful when one person flew the drone and the other controlled the camera with the headset. You are able to look up and down but to move side to side you have to rotate the drone, again we do like the flight modes for this type of thing and the combination does work rather well. However, is it enough to spend the extra money? If you want to change angles while shooting mid-flight? Then yes, you’ll be able to control the point of view up and down but side to side movement needs to be done by the drone. The version that comes without the headset and a 4K camera and the built in flight modes you’re off the races having spent half the money.
In terms of battery life, you should get around 17-20 minutes per charge although this will depend on the speed of the drone, as well as the weather conditions – if the drone has to constantly correct itself due to high winds, it’ll run out of battery much sooner. Don’t worry if the battery does die mid-flight though, as it’ll use the built-in GPS to automatically land from the spot where it originally took off from. Which we tried by accident and it did work, it went from 13% to 2% almost instantly on one occasion.
One thing that we haven’t come across in many drone battery’s is that the display gives you a breakdown of the battery overall, as well as each individual cell. It also tells you how much battery power it has left at a glance. Personally, I’m waiting for intelligent prediction on how much fly time I have left based on the weather conditions and my flying style.
For starters, we can’t help but love the price at $500 this is possibly one of the cheapest drones we’ve reviewed that comes with a gimbal-mounted 4K camera and decent flight time. While the overall package that the Ghost Drone 2.0 offers doesn’t quite match the power and of the accuracy of control of the DJI Phantom 4 UAV. At half the price makes up for the fact it doesn’t come with a stand alone controller. If you’re a first-time drone buyer there is no getting around the fact that waypoint makes the drone very easy to fly and that it comes with NO FAULT warranty coverage makes this an easy decision. EHANG provides hassle free repair or total replacement protection for up to three events and covers shipping costs both ways. DJI can’t boast that about it much more expensive products.
If you do decide to go with the version without the VR headset the 4K camera is the same size as a GoPro so if your camera happens to get upgraded your drone will be able to house it.