Drones come in all shapes and sizes with price points to fit all pockets. Lucky for us all, manufacturers are scrapping it out at both ends of the price spectrum to win our favor. There are plenty of units out there for the beginner drone pilot, but also a nice array of offerings if you’re willing to spend over $1,000.
The Autel Robotics EVO is one such drone aiming to provide pro-level features, along with quality video and stills to match. The problem with this end of the market is that there are some established players, most notably DJI. Let’s see if the Autel Robotics EVO has enough to offer to sway people from the other units on the market.
From the off, it’s clear that the Autel Robotics EVO has been influenced a lot by the DJI Mavic. The almost rectangular shaped body, front camera, and landing legs almost mirror the Mavic in appearance. If you’re going to try and make the best, why not emulate the best. It has similar weight and dimensions as the Mavic 2 Pro as a comparison.
There are some quite nice features from the outset on this drone. 4K Video and 12MP Photos, 4.4-mile range, three-axis motorized gimbal stabilization, and a microSD card slot to hold up to 128 GB. Maximum horizontal speed is 44.7 mph with a 30 minute flight time. A free app comes with the drone which gives a 1080p live view and other flight information. Two front cameras to detect the environment, two ultrasonic sensors to protect from landing on uneven surfaces, and a rear IR sensor when autonomously flying backward.
Dual GPS and GLONASS systems are on board to allow hands-free hovering. Along with other automatic flight features such as return to home if the battery is low. The whole unit folds down into a nice, compact package for easy storage and transportation. Lots of features, a sturdy build and from the specs alone, looking like a worthy candidate.
Autel Robotics EVO in Use
For basic flying duties, the Autel Robotics EVO copes quite well and a 30 minute flight time is quite decent for this price bracket. As expected for this level of drone there are a lot of autonomous flight functions at one’s disposal. Examples being: return to home, orbit, and waypoints. The drone also has obstacle avoidance sensors. These work quite well and are very easy to use. The automatic follow function just works okay and still defaults to a pilot’s skill for following a subject.
On the surface, the 4K video and 12-megapixel photos are a selling point and match the competition. The video quality goes up to 60P in H.264 or H.265 formats. All supported on a three-axis stabilized gimbal.
The video quality is okay, but it can have color casts most of the time. This will need some extra postproduction work, as they can tend to make things look too cool. Not a white balance thing, but a natural color cast. Propellor intrusion is also highly noticeable. This shouldn’t really be an issue with a drone costing over $1,000. While the footage is very stable and impressive in general, having a propeller in your footage is a massive no-no.
Although the controller has a simplistic layout with all the controls you need, the 3.3-inch display is a touch too small. It doesn’t have to use a smartphone for all controls, but it just feels like a smaller version of what you would find on a smartphone. On the other hand, the controller makes operation very intuitive.
Overall, the flight experience is reasonable, with plenty of features onboard. The video and stills quality is okay, but the intrusion of the propeller in the footage is really unacceptable.
How Does It Compare?
If you have $1000 or so to spend on a drone which can also take quality video and stills, there are a few options on the market.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro costs a bit more but is also the gold standard in professional drones. A Hasselblad camera with a 1-inch sensor and 10-bit HDR video is a great starting point. The camera also has an adjustable aperture from f/2.8-f/11, producing some very impressive video and stills. In this respect, there is no comparison here. Throw in loads of flight functionality and it all becomes a very well rounded package.
For something a bit cheaper, the DJI Mavic Air produces great video quality, is very portable, and is a great balance between the quality of footage and features. In other words, the Autel Robotics EVO has some top-class competition. If DJI products didn’t exist or cost thousands more, then the EVO would be a more clear-cut decision, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
|Autel Robotics EVO||DJI Mavic 2 Pro|
|Imaging||4K video||4K video|
|Range||4.4 miles||3 miles|
|Flight Time||30 mins.||31 mins.|
The Autel Robotics EVO isn’t a drone you shouldn’t pass entirely, it’s just that the competition has better offerings for the same money or slightly cheaper. Portability and video quality are bettered by the DJI Mavic Air which costs a few hundred dollars less and matched up against the slightly more expensive DJI Mavic Pro, the EVO just can’t compete. In other words, the DJI Mavic Air is a much better proposition in this case.
It has all the features you would expect at this price point, it’s just that the likes of the cheaper Mavic Air and Mavic Pro provide better performance and functionality. Maybe the unit needs a few versions to hit its stride, but it also has its work cut out against some of the top makers at this price point.