After the DJI FPV, its first FPV drone released in March 2021, DJI is back with a brand new model: the DJI Avata. So, how is this new drone different, what has DJI changed and improved, and most importantly, should you get it? The answer in our full test!
Let’s start with a look at the main features of the DJI Avata:
The design of the Avata is a radical departure from what DJI usually offers, including its predecessor the DJI FPV. This time, no foldable elements. The DJI Avata is also much lighter and more compact than its big brother. With 410g on the scale, it is almost half the weight (795g), and its reduced dimensions of 18cm on a side and 8cm high should allow it to be much more comfortable in narrow spaces.
But the big news in terms of design is the integrated protective frame. Built in the manner of the CineWhoop drones, the propellers are permanently protected inside protective rings. DJI’s new baby clearly seems to have been designed to take a beating.
Also in this perspective, the upper part of the drone is provided with a gray protective cage in which the camera is nestled, thus greatly reducing the possibility of it colliding with an obstacle. The battery also slides into this cage from the back, making it more likely to survive a crash as well.
Under the drone are two downward facing obstacle sensors whose role is to calculate the distance to the ground. These are the only two sensors on the Avata, which do not have forward sensors unlike the DJI FPV. But we will come back to this later.
Overall, the design of the DJI Avata is very well thought out. The only flaw we found with it: the USB-C port and microSD card slot. Oddly enough, these are located under a rubber cover inside one of the propeller protection rings, making them incredibly difficult to access. And if you want to connect a USB cable to retrieve a video stored in the drone, you will have to remove the propeller. Really not practical.
Although the DJI Avata can be flown without a helmet, the experience is of course much more immersive with one. The drone is compatible with the FPV Goggles V2 supplied with the DJI FPV, but to mark the release of its new toy, DJI has also released new goggles: the Googles 2.
You’re probably wondering why DJI named its new goggles so closely after the old ones. Well, so are we! This can be quite confusing, so be careful when buying accessories for your glasses.
Aesthetically these new glasses are smaller than the old ones (167x104x81mm vs. 202x126x110mm), have two extra ventilation grills on the sides and only have two antennas on the top, compared to four for the previous version. Also lighter than their predecessors (290g vs 420g), we found them more comfortable to wear.
Logically, the Goggles 2 are superior to the FPV Goggle V2, except for a few details. They are equipped with Micro-OLED screens with a resolution of 1080p (against 810p for the FPV Goggles V2) and a brightness of 700 nits (against 360 for the old helmet) but lose slightly in passage in frame rate: 100fps against 120 on the old model.
The Goggles 2 and the DJI Avata are connected by Ocusync O3+DJI’s latest transmission technology, which offers a 10km range with a 50Mbps bit rate, dual frequencies and Audience Mode, a streaming feature that allows viewers to see your flight from their own Goggles.
Like the FPV Goggles V2, the new Googles 2 incorporates a lighter version of the DJI Fly application. So you can fly the drone without a smartphone or tablet. This time, DJI has integrated a touchpad on the right side of the helmet that allows you to control the application.
Finally, as we do not all have the same eyes, DJI has integrated the possibility to adjust the distance between the eyes and the diopter. Thus, the eyepieces can be spaced from 56 to 72 mm, and the diopter adjustment ranges from -8.0 D to +2.0 D.
Like their predecessors, the Googles 2 are powered by an external battery connected via a USB-C cable. Small design improvement though: a clip that attaches to the top of the battery has been added to the end of the cable, adding a little extra security.
The DJI Avata comes with the DJI Motion Controller. Already supplied with the DJI FPV, this one-handed joystick is, at least by default, the only controller supplied with the Avata, which may come as a shock to those used to drones and traditional two-joystick remotes.
The idea is to provide an intuitive way to fly, and the operation is simple: tilt your hand forward and pull the throttle trigger and the drone moves forward to what you are pointing at. Tilt the joystick up to gain altitude, and back to descend. To turn, simply tilt your hand in the desired direction. In case of emergency, the big button on the top allows to stop the drone and to put it in hover.
All this seems very fun at first sight, and it is true that the system is rather intuitive and that with a little practice, piloting with the Motion Controller can become second nature and one takes pleasure in making the Avata fly in all directions.
But not everything is perfect. First of all, you can’t do everything with the Motion Controller: you can’t fly backwards or make vertical transitions. Second, you won’t have the precision of a “traditional” controller: it’s great fun in large open spaces, but more challenging in tight spaces. Moreover, it is surely not by chance that the Manual mode, in which you can do everything you want with the drone, is not available with this remote control.
So if you want to have access to all the possible movements and use the Manual mode to do flips and loops, this will only be possiblewith the DJI FPV 2 remote control, supplied with DJI FPV, but sold separately for the DJI Avata. More intuitive for experienced pilots, it allows a much more precise flight and is therefore more suitable if you like to fly low to the ground or skim over trees.
Thanks to its small size and its CineWhoop drone-like design, you feel more confident flying the Avata. Unlike the DJI FPV, we are less afraid of crashing and destroying the drone at the slightest impact. This peace of mind is a real plus in flight.
We touched on this briefly in the Motion Controller section, but there is a learning curve to mastering this controller and we recommend starting in a large, open space. Even in Normal mode, the drone may have a tendency to make sudden movements and it takes some time to get the hang of it.
It should be noted that the DJI Avata is significantly slower than its predecessor. Let’s be clear, it remains a very fast drone, capable of flying at 97km/h in Manual mode. But the DJI FPV can fly at this speed in Sport mode and even reach an impressive 140 km/h in Manual.
Also, all modes of the Avata are a little slower than on the FPV, and the climb speed is capped at 6m/s regardless of mode, compared to 15m/s in Sport mode for the DJI FPV, and no limit in Manual mode. But hey, the DJI Avata is still largely fast enough, you’ll realize that if you fly at full speed a meter above the ground! 😁
As we mentioned earlier, the DJI Avata takes the concept of the CineWhoop drones, those racing drones capable of speeding through tight spaces. With its newborn, DJI succeeds in a real tour de force: to make this product reserved for enthusiasts (and do-it-yourselfers) a product accessible to the general public.
The brand’s engineers have managed to create a small drone that is fast and ready to fly right out of the box. The Avata is ultra fun to fly, it moves through the air effortlessly and is extremely responsive to the controls. A pure pleasure. The same adrenaline rush as a video game, but in the real world. And for the racing pros, the Manual mode will allow you to perform mind-blowing maneuvers that no conventional drone is capable of (but if you’re just starting out, we recommend spending a few days on DJI’s Flight Simulator app first! 😅).
A small drawback is that the Avata is very noisy. You won’t go unnoticed, to say the least. Quite surprising when you know how hard DJI works on aerodynamic design to make its other models quieter.
As we have seen, the key element of the DJI Avata’s design is its integrated propeller protection that allows it to resist more or less violent collisions. This allows pilots to fly with more confidence.
As a result, DJI decided that it was enough to put only two sensors for obstacle detection directed downwards, whose role is to calculate the distance to the ground, to improve hovering, to allow flying indoors or in places where satellite navigation is not available, and to identify areas not suitable for landing, such as bodies of water.
Is this a wise choice? For our part, we believe that it is always better to have a range of sensors to detect possible obstacles and allow the drone to avoid them. But in our tests, we deliberately tested the Avata’s ability to handle collisions (to a certain extent, of course) and it always came out well. The drone flew through small tree branches without any problem and continued to fly (with a few leaves hanging from its frame). And when the drone hit some large branches, it fell to the ground but without a glitch. Rather reassuring.
Especially since the Avata is equipped with a rather useful option: the Turtle mode that allows it, in the event that it is turned over on the ground following a fall, to get back to its original position.
Without forward or rearward sensors, the DJI Avata does not have an obstacle avoidance system. However, it does incorporate the following additional security features:
The DJI Avata is equipped with a 2420 mAh smart battery. DJI indicates a maximum hover time of 18 minutes, but obviously, as we rarely fly only in hover, we must expect a shorter time in reality. During our tests, we generally had flights between 12 and 15 minutes. Consider getting extra batteries.
Autonomy is less of a problem with the glasses or the remote control. The Goggles V2 can be used for about 2 hours, and the Motion Controller for about 5 hours.
The DJI Avata features a 1/1.7-inch sensor with 48MP resolution, capable of capturing 4K video at up to 60fps. This is a significant improvement over the DJI FPV, which is equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor with 12MP resolution.
This larger sensor provides cleaner images, sharper video, greater sensitivity in low light conditions, and greater dynamic range when grading footage in post-production.
Since the camera is mounted on a single-axis gimbal, images are stabilized using RockSteady and HorizonSteady electronic stabilization technologies, which are very effective.
Finally, DJI has integrated, in addition to the Standard color profile, the D-Cinelike profile which offers more flexibility in post-processing by recovering more shadows and highlights.
As for storage, the Avata has 20GB of internal storage, which is enough to hold about 20 minutes of 4K video at 60fps. The drone also has a microSD slot that can accommodate cards up to 256GB.
The camera produces good, beautiful and brilliant images and video, but it’s not the best camera DJI has ever made. The images are not as sharp as on the classic DJI drones, including the Mini series.
For our tests, we used the standard color profile, which generally offers natural and pleasant colors. The first flaw we noticed is the white balance, which gives inconsistent variations. In automatic mode, if there are changes in light such as a shift from a sunny to a shady area, the camera’s exposure adjusts quickly, but is a bit slow to react to changes in color temperature. For best results, it is best to adjust the white balance manually.
Another shortcoming is the low light conditions. When we flew under trees or indoors, we got some noisy grain on our videos. However, no problems to report in bright light, 4K videos are sharp, clear and colorful.
One of the problems that appeared on the DJI FPV was the field of view. In some maneuvers, the propeller tips could be seen on the videos. This problem has been corrected on the Avata, but the protective frame can be seen in a few rare situations, when the camera is pointed down or when braking.
Finally, it is important to note that unlike conventional drones, when you turn left or right, the camera tilts with the drone. The image follows the tilt of the drone and the horizon tilts. This makes sense considering that the goal of this drone is to provide an FPV experience so that the pilot feels like he’s in a cockpit, but it’s still good to report.
Also, the fact that the gimbal is only one axis can pose limitations when trying to take pictures. When hovering, if it is windy, the drone may be tilted sharply to stay in position, so you may have trouble getting straight images.
In both cases, if this is a problem for you and you absolutely need straight images all the time, you’ll have to opt for a classic drone with a three-axis gimbal, like the Air 2S or the Mini 3 Pro.
The DJI Avata is offered on the DJI website in three different packages:
You’ll notice that the Ultimate Pack is more expensive than the only pack available for the DJI FPV, the DJI FPV Bundle, where DJI’s first FPV drone comes with the FPV Goggles V2 and both the DJI FPV 2 and Motion Controller remotes. The DJI Avata is a great drone if you want to get a ready-to-fly FPV drone, but remains an expensive option.
Finally, if you want to add the DJI FPV 2 remote control for a traditional (and more precise) piloting with two joysticks, you can get it separately for 149€.
With the release of its first FPV drone, DJI has allowed camera drone pilots toenter the exhilarating world of FPV flight. The DJI FPV has made it possible for anyone who wants to fly FPV but is not a DIYer to do so.
With the Avata, DJI offers a drone half the weight of its predecessor, smaller and more agile, and also witha better camera. The ideal ready-to-use solution. As far as we are concerned, we preferred this new model. The Avata is a real pleasure to drive.
We just found it a shame that DJI, despite the price, does not include the DJI FPV 2 remote control. Flying with the Motion Controller takes a little practice for a traditional drone pilot, and you can’t fly backwards, for example. If you want the full experience, you’ll have to spend a few extra dollars.
If you want to enter the world of FPV (and have the budget 😊), the Avata is a great option, better understood by DJI than its predecessor. But be sure, because if you find out that FPV flying is not your cup of tea, the mistake is a bit costly.
… you want to start flying FPV with a ready-to-use solution. The DJI Avata is ideal for beginners. You don’t have to do anything, you just have to take the drone out of its box, put the helmet on your head, and go! And although it doesn’t have obstacle detection, it flies slower than the DJI FPV (but fast enough to follow a car, for example) and incorporates a protective frame that will save it from minor collisions.
… you don’t have easy access to large open spaces. If you live in the city, driving the Avata can be very dangerous. Also, if you often fly alone, this can be a problem because many countries have laws that require an observer to look at the drone in line of sight at all times, which is not possible for the pilot with the glasses.
… you have a limited budget or want a real racing drone. The DJI Avata is expensive, and it is possible to buy or build FPV drones for a much lower price, and which will be much faster if you want to race against other FPV drones.