DJI Mavic Air 2 : First Impressions…

… Maxie has joined the drone fleet.

Why Maxie? Well, because I can now fly Minnie and Maxie. It seemed like an appropriate name. Except I don’t know whether to call it “he” or “she”. How do you tell the sex of a drone anyways? So far I’ve used female names for my drones, so let’s settle on “she.”

Now, in my last article I suggested that buying the Combo model made more sense…

When I bought Minnie, I picked the combo, and haven’t regretted it. Of course, there’s a price difference, the Air 2 Combo is about US$1000 and the Single is US$800. Personally, I think most of the items included in the Combo version you would eventually end up buying, and they’d likely cost double the US$200 difference between versions.

…however, when I looked really closely I realized there were things in the Combo package I’d probably never use. In particular, the carrying case. Sure, it holds everything that comes in the package, but nothing more, and I usually carry iPad mount and iPad plus a few spares and tools. Also, the case looks seriously irritating. When you let go of the top, it flops back down. I don’t think my blood pressure would like that. So, yes, you guessed it, I bought the so-called “Single” model.

But, I bought the extras I thought I would need, rather than what DJI thinks I need and I ended-up spending less… One extra battery, some ND filters and a very nice backpack that holds Maxie, Minnie, batteries, remote controllers and there’s space for a few more odds and ends. If the mood should take me to climb Everest I won’t be going droneless.

We seem to be jumping ahead. All good drone reviews have to begin with the unboxing. Why? I’ve no idea. Do people get aroused by the sight of cardboard boxes? If you’re one, here’s your thrill for today…

Boxes. Outer and inner. Exciting eh?

Now that’s confusing. If the plural of ox is oxen, when isn’t the plural of box boxen? You don’t know do you?

Anywhoo, let’s see what’s in the boxen…

On the right you can see the drone and controller. Those are pretty essential. There’s one battery in the drone. That comes with the Single option. Loads of cables and propellors plus spare props. There’s even spare thumb sticks, or whatever you call the sticky-up things you twiddle on the controller to move the drone. The little black box top left is interesting. It contains two neatly folded cables with the connectors sticking out the corners. You use these, well, one of them, to connect your phone or tablet to the controller. It all looks very professional until you realize neither of them has a lightning connector for an iPad!

So I sent a message to the seller to say “Where the hell’s my iPad cable?” And continued assembling things. In the process I pulled up the phone holder on the top of the controller and out fell the the iPad cable! So I logged back in to tell the seller I’d found it hiding inside the controller, but there was a message from him saying “It’s hiding inside the controller.” What a bizarre place to put it, especially after making the nice black box for the other two cables.

Getting things setup is pretty straightforward. The props fit easily, the arms fold out with a reassuring click, and after a spot of battery charging, everything powers up without drama. I already had the needed app because it’s the same as for the Mavic Mini. That’s kind of neat. As usual, there was some firmware downloading to be done, but it’s really only a case of tapping the screen when instructed, and watching the progress bars.

My first non-flying impression is that it’s a very solid drone. Totally unlike the Mini which feels like it’ll fall apart every time you fold out/in the arms. Of course, it’s bigger and heavier; but it’s more than that. It feels really well made.

And I’m happy to say, it feels the same when in the air. It can be flown with confidence. Wind doesn’t seem to bother it, and the communication between drone and controller doesn’t keep breaking. I haven’t tried the supposed 10km range, and I doubt I ever will, but 1km is easy – whereas the Mini would fly itself off into the sunset. The claimed 34 minute battery life is a load of hooey. But then, it is with all drones. I’ve learned that 25 mins is a safe flying time. So, I have 50 mins with the two batteries. Should be okay for now although I suspect I’ll end up with a third.

Both the Mini and the Mavic Air 2 have Normal mode and Sport (scary fast) mode. But they both also have a third mode. The Mini has Cine mode and the Mavic Air 2 has Tripod mode. The latter sounds bizarre. Do you screw your drone to a tripod? No of course not. The Mini’s Cine mode is a super-smooth mode for making cine-quality video. The Air’s Tripod mode is exactly the same. How can one manufacturer use two different words for the same thing? Right, that’s something else you don’t know, and neither do I. Very odd.

Although I have now flown it a few times, I really can’t give you a proper review. It has so many camera modes it’s mind boggling. I went out this morning and tried twenty! If you take all the combination of options the total must be in the hundreds. Once the weather decides to cooperate I’ll have a feeling for what modes are best for me, and I can report back. Stay tuned.

Paul

...has been travelling the world for more than fifty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more.

He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Drones, Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way.

More info than you could possibly need is available by clicking the ABOUT tab in the top menu line.


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