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DJI Smart Controller Review – Newsshooter

DJI Smart Controller Review - Newsshooter

The DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic 2 Professional and Mavic 2 Zoom was only recently introduced at CES 2018, and right here at Newsshooter, we now have been fortunate sufficient to get our arms on one to evaluate.

Why did DJI make it?

DJI Smart Controller

DJI made the Smart Controller to remove your dependency on having to make use of a smartphone or pill to fly your drone. Additionally they needed to remove having to make use of a number of elements such because the Crystal Sky monitor, a mounting system, cables, and the distant controller when you needed to have a brighter display.

The idea behind the Smart Controller is to include a number of elements right into a single, self-contained unit. I like this concept, however a variety of customers might properly ask why ought to I spend extra money once I have already got a controller and a smartphone? That may be a legitimate level, and there are two faculties of thought in terms of this argument. Virtually everybody has a smartphone lately, so it makes a number of sense to make use of one with a drone. The issue is we use our smartphones for lots of issues and nobody actually needs to empty their battery down if they’re out within the area with no means of recharging it. Having a stand-alone distant controller with an included display means you don’t should depend on your telephone.

The opposite drawback when utilizing a smartphone is your display will inevitably get textual content messages, e mail alerts, notifications, and telephone calls while you’re making an attempt to fly your drone. Once more, that is hardly excellent on the subject of security. There’s nothing worse than having to take your fingers off the management sticks while you’re doing a essential transfer to swipe away a notification.

DJI Smart Controller key options

DJI Smart Controller in the hands

The DJI Smart Controller includes a 5.5” display constructed into the controller itself. It has been designed so that you simply not want to hook up with a cellular gadget. This makes the entire means of getting your drone up within the air lots faster and simpler. It may be paired with DJI’s latest drones together with the Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Professional which use DJI’s OcuSync video transmission system. The DJI Smart Controller helps automated switching between 2.Four GHz and 5.eight GHz, decreasing the affect of environmental interference on drone operation and picture high quality. This additionally ensures dependable lengthy-vary transmission of as much as a claimed distance of eight km.

The extremely-vibrant show has an output of 1000 cd/m2, twice the brightness of most traditional smartphones, and has been optimized to be used in direct daylight. The brightness may be manually and mechanically adjusted. When Auto mode is enabled, the DJI Smart Controller will mechanically regulate its brightness utilizing a constructed-in mild sensor, making it optimum for the human eye in line with the encompassing surroundings.

adjusting screen display options on the DJI Smart Controller

In case you go into the settings menu you possibly can truly select how the display behaves relying on what circumstances you’re flying in.

Is it the identical display that’s used on the CrystalSky and Phantom Four Professional RC with Display?

DJI Smart Controller compared to the Phantom 4 controller

Sure. The Smart Controllers display is identical one one can find on the CrystalSky (5.5″ Excessive Brightness) and the Phantom Four Professional RC with the display.

Construct High quality

DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Zoom 2 Review

The construct high quality of the Smart Controller is superb. It actually does really feel very strong within the hand and it definitely does have some weight to it. I truly like this added weight, as a result of in a wierd method it virtually provides you a way that you’re working one thing bigger. Subconsciously, I discovered myself paying extra consideration to what I used to be doing than once I was utilizing the usual distant.

I weighed the Smart Controller at 690g (24.three oz). The usual Mavic 2 Professional distant controller weighs in at 320 g (11.28 oz), however should you mix it with say an Apple iPhone 7+ that weight will increase to 510 g (17.98 oz), so in actuality, the Smart Controller doesn’t truly weigh that rather more than an ordinary distant with a smartphone.

HDMI Out, Microphone, and Speaker

DJI Smart Controller ports including HDMI output, microSD & a USB port.

One of many belongings you gained’t discover on the usual Mavic 2 Professional or Mavic 2 Zoom controllers is an HDMI out port. The brand new Smart Controller can even playback video by means of the HDMI port at 4K 60fps with H.264 and H.265, or truly, present a reside output to a second display. That is good in case you are working with a producer or director who needs to see what you’re capturing with out having to face proper subsequent to you and peer over your shoulder. With the HDMI port you’ll be able to merely join up a monitor after which they will take a look at their very own display with out having to hassle you.

DJI Smart Controller 4G network adapter

The USB output additionally helps a 4G community adapter. In concept, this implies you may transmit excessive-high quality video to a server or management the drone over lengthy distances. Sadly, I couldn’t discover out any extra details about this.

DJI Smart Controller Review

You can too instantly hook up the Smart Controller to a pc by way of USB. This provides you three choices: You possibly can cost the Smart Controller, Switch Information, or Switch Photographs by way of (PTP).

On prime of Smart Controller are a collection of blinking and flashing lights that present you standing details about what’s going on.

  • Yellow Blinking – Low battery warning
  • Cyan Blinking – Management sticks aren’t in place
  • Purple Blinking – The temperature of the Smart Controller is just too excessive, or the battery is low
  • Regular Pink – The Smart Controller just isn’t related
  • Regular Inexperienced – The Smart Controller is related
  • Regular Yellow – The Smart Controller firmware replace failed

DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Zoom 2 Review

The DJI Smart Controller comes with a constructed-in microphone and speaker for expanded choices resembling reside streaming.

DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Zoom 2 Review

Whereas there’s an adjustment for the speaker’s quantity I couldn’t discover any menu gadgets for the microphone. I’m nonetheless unsure the way it works. No audio was being recorded onto any of my clips. I’ve a sense this microphone function might solely work in case you are doing reside streaming. I’ll try to seek out out from DJI.

Android dashboard

DJI Smart Controller

A customizable Android dashboard helps DJI GO Four, DJI Pilot, together with numerous third-get together apps akin to modifying packages. The DJI GO Four app additionally touts a number of new options together with SkyTalk, that permits pilots to stay stream the drone’s digital camera feed to social channels together with Fb, Instagram, and WeChat. The factor to notice right here is that the Smart Controller has no mobile connection so that you would wish to pair it with a smartphone to do any sort of stay streaming.

What’s fascinating is that customers can obtain third-celebration apps by means of the constructed-in browser or set up APK information from a microSD card. (DJI won’t be answerable for any permission or questions of safety ensuing from using third-get together apps. If an put in third-get together app prevents you from having fun with optimum use of your controller, DJI suggests you take away the app or restore the controller to the unique manufacturing unit settings.)

DJI GO-Share

DJI Smart Controller

One other new function is DJI GO-Share which permits for straightforward transfers of your pictures from the Controller to your cellular gadget. I discovered this labored fairly nicely after you initially set it up. The one caveat at present is which you can solely share movies and photographs by way of DJI Go-Share, screenshots and display recording can’t be shared.

DJI Smart Controller Review

Talking of sharing, I couldn’t get the Bluetooth sharing to work in any respect. Even once I paired up the Distant Controller to a different system, each time I attempted to share a file it wouldn’t work. Hopefully, that is only a bug with the present firmware on the Distant Controller. Sadly, due to this drawback, I couldn’t transfer any display recordings or screenshots that I captured off the Smart Controller.

Battery life

DJI claims that the Smart Controller provides you someplace between 2-2.5 hours of battery life and the power to function in opposed temperatures as chilly as -Four°Fahrenheit and as scorching as 104°Fahrenheit. It makes use of a constructed-in battery that takes round about an hour to cost. I discovered from my testing of the Smart Controller that I used to be getting properly underneath 2 hours of battery life. Regardless of having a constructed-in battery,  you possibly can concurrently cost and use the Smart Controller when you join it as much as a USB energy provide.

The Smart Controller does appear to take fairly a very long time to cost up as properly, it’s not almost as fast as charging up the usual distant management that comes with the Mavic 2 Professional and Mavic 2 Zoom.

The constructed-in battery will not be to everybody’s liking. I might have favored to have seen DJI a minimum of present a battery plate so you can have the choice of utilizing an exterior battery or the interior one. Although you need to use an exterior USB energy supply, that often makes for a messy setup, with no straightforward approach of attaching the facility provide to your controller. If you would like a system the place you’ll be able to swap over batteries your self, then the CrystalSky is a greater choice.

Firmware Updates

DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Zoom 2 Review

You are able to do firmware updates by way of the Smart Controller.

Pairing the Smart Controller together with your drone

How to pair the DJI Smart Controller

Once you first get the Smart Controller you’ll need to pair it together with your Mavic 2 Professional or Mavic 2 Zoom. This can be a pretty straightforward course of, however you do should find and press the little pairing button that’s on the bodily physique of your Mavic 2. Upon getting paired the plane you gained’t should do it once more. It can mechanically pair as quickly as you flip in your drone and the Smart Controller.


Using the DJI Smart Controller with gloves

Usability ought to be the most important issue for any drone working system. You want to have the ability to entry all the controls, maintain onto the controller securely and most significantly see the display clearly. The controller additionally must be dependable and protected to make use of. I actually like Smart Controller, in my private opinion, it’s much more snug to carry onto and function than the usual Mavic 2 Professional or Mavic 2 Zoom controller.

DJI Smart Controller Review


The display is very nice, the colours look good and it’s straightforward to see all your key info. It was a pleasing change taking a look at a display that was slightly bit bigger than the smartphone I often use for my Mavic 2Pro. You’ll be able to comfortably maintain the Smart Controller within the palm of your palms and your thumbs sit in a pleasant pure place for working your drone. The dials for adjusting your cameras tilt and f-cease are quite a bit simpler to find and use than they’re on the usual distant controller.

DJI Smart Controller

Even the canine was chilly

I additionally discovered that the touchscreen on the Smart Controller appeared to be simpler to make use of than say an iPhone if you end up sporting gloves. Because it was freezing chilly once we have been testing out the Smart Controller, I couldn’t use it with out sporting gloves. Not as soon as did I’ve to take my gloves off to make any modifications on the display. On this case, I used to be utilizing the Brilliant Tangerine ExoSkin gloves which work with contact screens.

As soon as I began utilizing the Smart Controller I discovered it very onerous to return to the usual distant.

Button Mixtures

DJI Smart Controller

The Smart Controller additionally lets you do Button Mixtures. By tapping and holding the again button (the button to the left of the left aspect joysticks) you possibly can shortly do issues like take a screenshot, begin a display recording, regulate the display brightness, and even modify the speaker quantity. The best way you do that is by holding the again button till the Smart Controller vibrates, you’re then introduced with choices and also you then simply click on what you need to modify or entry.

Don’t disturb

DJI Smart Controller Review

In a pleasant contact, DJI has included a approach to set a Do Not Disturb perform in order that if you find yourself flying you gained’t obtain any notifications from third-celebration apps.

Is the display large enough?

DJI Smart Controller

Positive, DJI might have made a bigger Smart Controller with a much bigger display, however I feel the 5.5″ measurement is an effective compromise. It’s a must to keep in mind that this has been designed to be used with the Mavic 2 vary, and making an enormous display and controller takes away from the compact nature of these drones. It will not shock me to see DJI ultimately come out with numerous totally different fashions identical to they did with the CystalSky screens.

Is it brilliant sufficient for use in direct daylight?

I’m used to working the Mavic 2 Professional with my iPhone 7+ and whereas that has a fairly shiny display, you’ll be able to’t use it in sunny circumstances. Not with the ability to see what you’re doing is extraordinarily hazardous, particularly if you find yourself flying a drone. Security ought to all the time be your foremost precedence and in case you can’t see what you’re doing then that security is being compromised.

I discovered the Smart Controller display to be fairly good outdoor, even in shiny circumstances. It’s an enormous step up over utilizing a smartphone. In saying that, it might all the time be brighter. The display continues to be topic to glare and reflections and when you use it in very sunny circumstances, when you can nonetheless see what you’re doing, it’s not shiny sufficient to overpower the solar. In actuality, the display actually does want a sunhood if you wish to use it in very brilliant circumstances.

As a comparability, the DJI CrystalSky 7.85″ Extremely-Shiny Monitor is twice as shiny and has an output of 2000 cd/m². Would I’ve most popular to have seen the Smart Controller with a 2000 cd/m² show, completely, however that might have in all probability massively lowered battery life. Who is aware of, perhaps a bigger Smart Controller with a 2000 cd/m² show is already within the works.

How does it examine to the usual Mavic 2 distant?

DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Zoom 2 Review

Aside from the apparent issues like having its personal display, the DJI Smart Controller has fairly a couple of options that you simply gained’t discover on the usual Mavic 2 Professional or Mavic 2 Zoom. As I’ve already talked about you get an HDMI output, a microphone, a speaker, and Skytalk for streaming stay to social media channels. So far as efficiency goes its similar to the usual Mavic 2 Professional and Mavic 2 Zoom distant controllers.

DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Zoom 2 Review

One other good contact is that not solely does the Smart Controller have inner storage identical to the usual distant controller, however there’s additionally a MicroSD card slot, so you’ll be able to improve the interior storage from 16GB all the best way as much as 128GB.

DJI Smart Controller

I additionally like that DJI has included two further buttons on both aspect of the joysticks. One is a return button and the opposite is a choose button. These buttons (together with the joystick) help you entry and alter settings within the Homepage, File Supervisor, Gallery, App Middle, System Settings, and Fast Settings whereas sporting not touchscreen gloves.  Hopefully, DJI will ultimately can help you use these buttons to navigate by means of the Mavic’s capturing parameters with out having to make use of the contact display performance of the display. This might be nice in case you are sporting gloves and it additionally means you can also make modifications with out having to take your fingers off the joystick controls.

There’s additionally a perform so you’ll be able to display report your Smart Controllers display. This can be helpful if you wish to present somebody how you probably did one thing or for reviewing your flight and seeing what strikes labored and what strikes didn’t.

Will it work with different DJI merchandise?

DJI Smart Controller

At this second in time, the Smart Controller solely works with the Mavic 2 Professional and Mavic 2 Zoom. From speaking to DJI, it definitely appears that it’s greater than probably that we’re going to see the Smart Controller develop into suitable with different DJI drones. These “other drones” have to be utilizing DJI’s OcuSync video transmission system for that to occur. If in case you have an older drone, corresponding to the unique Mavic, there isn’t any probability will probably be suitable because it makes use of an older model of OcuSync. If DJI launched a brand new drone that had OcuSync, they must make it backward suitable with OcuSync for the Smart Controller to work. Whether or not a brand new model of OcuSync would contain hardware or a software program change is unclear.

In case you personal a number of drones then getting a CrystalSky Monitor in all probability makes extra sense, as it really works with most of DJI’s drones.

Are there any downsides?

DJI Smart Controller


Properly aside from the added value, portability is the most important draw back. As it’s bodily bigger and heavier then the usual distant controller you might nicely discover it gained’t match into a number of the extra compact Mavic 2 Professional and Mavic 2 Zoom luggage which might be obtainable. You additionally lose the telemetry that you’d usually see on the Mavic distant controllers. Whether or not you care about this or not, will rely upon the person. Personally, I didn’t miss it.

In some methods, the Smart Controller takes away from the compact and moveable nature of the Mavic drones. That is one other issue it’s worthwhile to take into accounts.

At this time limit, you additionally haven’t any ensures that the Smart Controller might be suitable with future drones. If DJI introduced out a Mavic three later this yr and the Smart Controller wasn’t suitable, you wouldn’t be very glad.

Is it well worth the worth?

DJI Smart Controller

This can be a exhausting query to reply as a result of it actually is dependent upon how typically and what you’re doing together with your drone. In case you are simply an occasional flyer then it’s in all probability not value paying the additional $649 USD, however in case you are making a living off flying your drone, then the expense might simply be justified. The great factor is, DJI provides you a number of choices for a way and what you need to use to watch and management your drone. You aren’t locked into only one means.

DJI CrystalSky 5.5" Excessive-Brightness Monito

DJI CrystalSky 5.5″ Excessive-Brightness Monitor

As a comparability, the DJI CrystalSky 5.5″ Excessive-Brightness Monitor retails for $469 USD after which you need to purchase the DJI CrystalSky Mounting Bracket for Choose Controllers that provides one other $79 USD. That may take your complete out to $548 USD, which is $101 USD cheaper than a Smart Controller.

DJI Mavic Pro 2

DJI is promoting a combo package deal the place you will get the Smart Controller with the DJI Mavic 2 Professional for $1,899 USD, in order that’s $249 USD cheaper than shopping for the Mavic Professional 2 and the Smart Controller individually. A deal can also be out there for the Mavic 2 Zoom.

You may additionally purchase an iPad or use an present one that you simply already personal after which buy a mounting bracket.


DJI Smart Controller Review

I used to be slightly skeptical about whether or not the $649 USD value was justified for a distant controller for a drone that prices $1,500 USD. As knowledgeable shooter who makes cash from flying drones, I personally assume that the price is greater than justified. Is it overpriced for what it’s? In all probability, however I feel working professionals will nonetheless be comfortable sufficient to pay the fee. The power to have one thing that isn’t solely rather a lot simpler to see but in addition to function is an enormous deal. As soon as I used the Smart Controller I discovered it very exhausting to return to the unique distant. It might be purely a coincidence however I discovered that my drone expertise truly improved from utilizing the Smart Controller. I feel lots of this will have been from the unconscious impact of feeling extra assured utilizing the Smart Controller because it appeared to make the entire flying expertise simpler.