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EHANG Ghost Drone 2.0 VR review: App and VR headset
Providing drone controls via a smartphone app is a bold move, and relies heavily on the quality of the app. If the app works as expected it’ll provide a great overall experience but if it freezes or glitches, it can completely ruin the experience. However, we can happily say that the EHANG Ghost Drone 2.0 VR’s accompanying iOS app was well designed and provided a great overall user experience, although as with any app, there can be improvements made.
EHANG prides itself on the fact that people with little or no experience can easily fly the Ghost Drone 2.0 VR and we largely agree with this. There are two flying modes – waypoint and manual – with the app recommending that you complete at least three flights in waypoint mode before getting full manual control of the drone. This is great as it gives drone operators new and old an opportunity to become familiar with the drone and the app. It’s also packed full of tutorials for almost every aspect of the drone, with many featuring accompanying video tutorials that should help you with any queries you may have.
The first time you use either mode, you must follow the on-screen tutorial which takes you through the various features of the mode. The waypoint mode is incredibly easy to use and is recommended for novice users, as you simply tap to mark your waypoint on a map and the drone will fly there, leaving you free to control other elements like rotation, height and more to get the perfect video or photo.
It also allows you to toggle additional flight modes, like Follow Me, which will make the drone lock onto your location and follow you as you walk/run/bike ride along a scenic vista. It works well and the drone managed to keep pace with us, but the feature is a little bit of a gimmick in our opinion – it’s nice to have for the occasional tracking shot, but isn’t a deal-breaker.
The manual mode is where things start to get really interesting. While many drones that use smartphones as controllers will provide on-screen controls for the user, EHANG uses the built-in gyroscope to control the drone. While we were dubious at first, the controls are intuitive and thanks to built-in algorithms that counter human errors during flight, our manual flights were pretty much accident-free (although there were one or two times we came close!). The drone itself also features dual sensors that keep it in the air and operational, even if one fails for whatever reason.
It makes sense to be able to control the drone by tilting it, as you wouldn’t be able to wear the provided VR headset and look at on-screen controls at the same time. Although with that being said, wearing the VR headset while flying the drone in manual mode did take a lot of getting used to, mainly because it’s much harder to judge distance when wearing the headset. We’d recommend, if possible, to have one drone operator and one VR headset/camera operator to get the best possible video results from the Ghost Drone 2.0 VR. Don’t fret if you’re a one-man-band, as you’re also able to disable the VR headset controls and control the camera in-app, although there is no live camera stream from the drone available.
As you may imagine, it’s much more fun to fly the drone in manual mode too. While the waypoint mode provides speeds of up to 25mph, the Ghost Drone 2.0 VR can go up to 42mph in manual mode, although the battery drains rather quickly when performing at these speeds. It’s not built for racing or OTT tricks though, so there’s a limit to what you can do with the drone – it does cost over £800 after all.
So, what’s the experience like when using the VR headset? Considering the price boost from the standard Ghost Drone 2.0, we were expecting something fairly impressive. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. The headset was fairly small and lightweight which was a plus, but it wasn’t very comfortable to wear and there were gaps around the edges of the headset that let light leak into the headset. One cool feature is that it boasts a built-in sensor that can detect movement, allowing your up-and-down head movements to be mimicked by the drone camera, although it won’t move left or right.
The display isn’t quite what we’d imagined either – while many VR headsets use special wide-angle lenses to create the feeling of immersion, we felt more like we were looking through the viewfinder of a late-90s camcorder. It performed well until the drone was around 40m away, but by the time it hit 50m, we’d lost visual connection completely. We were still able to control the drone itself, but we were no longer able to use the VR headset.
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