To The Haters (or maybe just ignorant)
Over the past year since the Phantom's launch there have been an inordinate amount of magazine, newspaper, blogs, tv spots, reviews, etc. etc. highlighting this awesome new piece of technology. There have been a few negative issues/reviews that have been brought up more than once. Let's address them here and do it with a dose of reality and truth:
1. The Phantom is harder to pilot than you'd think and harder to pilot than DJI promises
Really? If you fall into this category of Phantom pilot than you are either 80 years-old or older, are a careless impatient type of person, or you are one of those 'technologically challenged' people that we all know. Actually, I can't even say that elderly people aren't capable of handling the advanced technology behind the Phantom. My father, who is 60, took to the Phantom like a duck to water. Rivaling even my own piloting skills in early flights. My nephew, at age 10, took to the Phantom like any kid his age who grew up with video games and smart phones would. I think it took him all of 30 seconds and before I could even finish my tutorial he had taken off and was in great control the whole flight.
When you get your drone. Take the time to watch the tutorial videos available online from DJI. Take it easy on your first couple of flights. You do that and you'll be shaking your head at all the morons out there complaining about how hard/complicated it is to fly a Phantom.
2. The failsafes built into the Phantom don't always work.
This one really gets to me. I'm not saying that there haven't been an isolated incident or two of someone doing everything right and the Phantom genuinely failing but number 2 is a lot like what they say about planes and pilots when it comes to crashes and accidents or 'equipment failure'. That is the famous phrase, 'pilot error'. I have watched numerous video reviews of genius bloggers/reporters flying the Phantom and then later writing in their list of 'cons' about the phantom not 'returning to home' or being 'difficult to control'. What they failed to mention but what is clearly visible through their own reviews is that they didn't follow any of the pre-flight procedures. When flown for the first time the Phantom must have it's compass calibrated. This is an easier process than some make it out to be. It's akin to what you have to go through when using your iPhone's compass (waving it around in a figure-of-eight for example). This is something you don't have to repeat each and every time you fly. Also very important before flying is allowing the Phantom to acquire adequate satellite reception for the GPS function. This is how it set's it's 'home' position. Waving the Phantom around while this is being accomplished doesn't work so well. Leave the Phantom untouched on the ground until it's pre-flight checks are complete. I have dozens upon dozens of flights and have tested the 'return to home' function numerous times. It has NEVER failed. The Phantom will also land itself once it reaches a critical low battery level. This function too, has never failed to perform when needed.
Remember, your Phantom is being controlled by a wireless signal. Depending on where you fly there could be a lot of wireless 'congestion'. If you experience a 'fly away' or some other erratic behavior, before blaming the Phantom, make sure you've done your end of the deal correctly and don't forget to take into account simple interference.
3. The one about the cost of the Phantom compared to other 'similar' drones.
To date there is nothing else built like the Phantom. This argument is similar to Mac vs. PC guys. In this case, the Phantom is the Mac. It comes prebuilt and configured to work right out of the box. It is jam packed with sensors, meters, and functionality some of which is only available on more advanced DIY drones. For example the IOC function, or Intelligent Orientation Control, which is built into the Phantom is an advanced option other drones it's size usually won't have. Could you build your own drone for less? Sure. No arguement there. But would you be soldering wires and boards, ordering all kinds of individual parts, programming ECU's and IMU's, attaching motors, GPS, and other peripherals, pairing receivers and transmitters? Absolutely. That's a lot of what you are paying for in the pre-built Phantom. Some people in the RC hobby world love the tinkering and building aspect of the hobby. I'm right there with you. But the Phantom and Phantom 2 Vision are something else. They are geared toward a different subset. They are for the 'everyman' (or woman ;)
There are more but this post is growing too long. Allow me to close by saying that the Phantom isn't perfect. Nor is the Phantom 2 Vision. But for a Gen. 1 RTF Quad, it's a remarkable advancement in the industry and the Vision is a great improvement on the Phantom. Remember the original iPod? That large, heavy, brick that held a whopping 5GB's of data? The first gen Phantom is, to me, the same thing. At the time it was revolutionary and awesome and so much fun. With each new version it just kept getting cooler and cooler. The applications of drones in everyday life is just now being realized and we haven't even scratched the surface yet. Steve Jobs may be gone and his company seems to be slowly advancing toward the land of obsoletes with the likes of Microsoft and other dinosaurs but there will be others to pick up where he left off. In the world of technological innovation and burgeoning new markets, is this the next one?
- Shawn Rowland