DJI & 3DR target prosumers with new multicopters

It’s been a busy week with the launch of the DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter with its built in 4k camera which is interchangeable, now 3D Robotics has launched a new X8+ multicopter, albeit, it’s not really new, so much as an update to an existing product.

Already comparisons are being made between DJI’s and 3DR’s multicopters given the fact both launched within close proximity, yet it’s clear the X8+ and Inspire are not really competing or likely to appeal to exactly the same consumer, indeed 3D Robotics is still refining its products and hasn’t to date really innovated where hardware is concerned, much of it is off the shelf from motors to the RC transmitters, however, where 3D Robotics does set itself apart is with its software and customer support.  The closeness of the launches is likely coincidental or possibly 3D Robotics sped up the X8+ release so as not to let DJI have headlines alone in the run up to the Christmas period.

There’s a myriad of comments and views on the internet on the Inspire 1, it’s an ambitious physical design, addressing a real problem of the propellers getting into shot, providing a unique solution of raising the arms in flight.  For that DJI should be congratulated.  On the flip side the proprietary design will mean expensive repair costs, DJI has a poor reputation for firmware quality assurance, so there’s a risk factor that new customers could be inadvertent beta testers.  Finally the video quality whilst offering close, possibly better video than the GoPro 4 has shown jello which could spoil shots, especially considering the video DJI have shown was in the hands of professionals.  Many consumers have questioned, what more does the video of the Inspire offer over a Phantom with a Zenmuse and a GoPro 4, the answer is not much, factor in the jello and the video could arguably be worse.

The 3D Robotics X8+, whilst only news within the last 24 hours has been low key, at the end of the day, it’s just an evolution of its existing X8 range, offered with a GoPro on a 2 axis gimbal which is so 2013.   In Europe 3D Robotics gear is almost impossible to purchase locally, indeed to even purchase in your own country over the internet may be impossible so the entire Christmas period of sales will be lost in a region where generally multicopter sales are buoyant.  You could be forgiven for saying the X8+ and its launch is uninspiring, but it’s also fair to argue that the price point is keen for an RTF (Ready to Fly), being an X8 there is mechanical redundancy which is extra piece of mind, the Arducopter software on its Pixhawk controller is feature rich.  Also of note is that 3D Robotics’ customer support, especially on its IRIS/IRIS+ has been head and shoulders above that seen in the industry, when comparing products support is an important point to factor in.

Our advice with multicopter purchases, is always wait until real users are posting real reviews, comments and videos before making a purchase, early hands-on and reviews can be misleading especially when those behind them are sponsored or rewarded for their reviews.

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