Autel Robotics hits the market with a bang. Featuring range over a mile, and excellent 4K video quality, along with stable, predictable flight characteristics, Autel Robotics proves they're a contender.
- Long range
- Stable flight
- Excellent battery life
- Stiff competition means Autel needs to keep up
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Full Review
One of the most popular selling points of drones nowadays is if it can shoot 4K resolution videos. If you’re in the market for one and find that you have quite a large budget, you can’t go wrong with one of the latest offerings from Autel Robotics: The X-Star Premium, one of the top-of-the-line models from the drone manufacturer. Actually, since there are only two products under their belt, and the other one being named X-Star only, it’s safe to say that the X-Star Premium is the best that the brand can offer, and what it offers is a mean feat of a drone. Surprisingly sophisticated, yet very easy-to-fly capabilities makes it perfect for aerial imagery overall.
Made with the professional aerial videographer in mind, the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium’s features fit it into the top echelon of drone superiority, as is the enormous asking price for one.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Features
- Maximum flight time of 25 minutes
- Removable 4,900 mAh intelligent battery
- Built-in GPS with GLONASS capabilities for better overall positioning
- Max transmission distance of 2,000 meters (FCC compliant)
- Three separate flight modes (GPS, ATTI and IOC)
- Max speeds: 5m/s ascent, 3m/s descent, 16m/s max speed
- Quick-release triple-axis gimbal mounted camera for pitch, roll and yaw
- Removable 12 MP camera for stills and video
- Video recording up to 4K at a max of 30 frames per second; 2.7K at a max of 60fps; 1080p at 120fps; and 720p at 240fps
- Supports file formats of .JPG/.DNG/JPG+DNG for photos and .MOV/.MP4 for videos
- Video link frequency of 902 MHz – 928 MHz
- Includes a 64 GB card for all your image and video storage needs
- Packaged in a semi-hard, zippered and splash-proof premium case
If by chance you saw the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium before you happened upon DJI’s Phantom 3 lineup, chances are you’ll happen to form the opinion that the design and specs are somewhat derived from their top-of-the-line Phantom 3 Professional. And in some ways, you’d be correct, right down to the fact that both models support 4K resolution and the cameras are both supported with gimbals. Both of them have apps for intuitive control over the flight capabilities, and perhaps the most telling of all is that they’re both in the same price range.
But don’t be quick to judge the X-Star Premium as a mere knock-off. In some ways more than one, it actually beats the Phantom 3 Professional at its own game. First off, its flight time clocks in at 25 minutes which is about 2-4 minutes longer than the Phantom 3 Professional. It might not seem a lot for most people, but if you’re trying to squeeze the best possible deal in a very expensive situation, it makes sense to take this into account. Secondly, the camera is removable, which is great if you’re looking to upgrade in the future. The Phantom 3 Professional model has its own built-in and is likely to stay that way.
Apart from these small, yet arguably important functions, the X-Star Premium is built almost exactly the same as a Phantom 3 Professional. It’s by no means a bad thing, since the latter is a really good 4K drone overall. By improving certain features though, mostly through the removable camera, it becomes innovative in its own way. There’s also an LCD feature on the pretty straightforward controller for added functionality, plus a dedicated take-off/land button for easier maneuvering. Almost everything that sets it apart from the Phantom model works to its advantage, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
There’s a pretty nifty return-to-home feature which is useful for emergency situations. The HD Live View is capable of taking photos and videos from 1.2 miles away with its 12 MP camera. There’s also an option to fly it without a smartphone, since you’re getting an LCD screen along with the controller.
The drone also combines double GPS and GLONASS systems satellite navigation for safe and stable flight, even when indoors. The overall flight control system is as smart as it sounds. The response time is quick, all the controls feel intuitive and smooth, and overall user experience is great due to the easy system operations. There’s a ton of features for the autopilot system, with commands such as follow, orbit and waypoints, allowing your focus to be on the camera rather than be troubled with flight controls. It didn’t seem possible, yet the X-Star Premium delivered: It combines simple, easy-to-use controlling with complex and deeply intuitive commands that feels as rewarding as it should be.
Its own app, called the Starlink app, sports a variety of features all aimed at enhancing the overall user experience. One such example is the handy smart pre-flight check feature which examines your systems first for optimal use before launching the drone. The built-in Starpoint Positioning System optically tracks the aircraft’s altitude and position even without GPS so it’s even handy in low-signal situations.
If there’s any flaw to be found, it’s that the drone can be a little pricey. Other than that, the various improvements which make it vastly superior to the Phantom 3 Professional makes this drone a somewhat better choice over the latter. However, as Autel Robotics is fairly new to the drone game, and DJI has some experience, there is a far better branding association with DJI.
If at first you thought that you were looking at a Phantom 3 Professional rip-off, it would help to reevaluate. Some professional drone users have commented that this is better overall, and its price is actually a bit lower than that of the latter. For the sole reason that the brand does not appeal to you, being the exception, this is the much smarter buy, all things considered. It might not be the most appealing now, but soon, this drone will be better known for all the right reasons.
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