Remote-controlled quadrocopters can pull off some pretty incredible shots, and the drones just keep getting better and better. DJI's latest drone, the Phantom 2 Vision+, looks like it offers a pretty compelling all-in-one package for enthusiasts. The quadrocopter comes with a 14-megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video (at 30fps) and, so long as you're no more than 2,300 feet away (700m), you can watch a live preview of the video using an accompanying app that includes detailed image settings. That's more than twice the range of the old model. As a bonus, the flying technology itself has been improved as well, according to DJI. It can now keep its position without input in winds up to 25mph, and overall control has been completely simplified.
Those who are serious about getting good footage will be more excited to hear that the drone's camera comes with a 3-axis electronic stabilizer that should mean the difference between smooth shots and unusable, jittery video. Also, the gimbal now lets you point the camera straight down, too, for some interesting birds-eye-view shots. Like the last model, you can get even smoother footage by using the drone's built-in GPS to pilot a course. That GPS also offers a few neat features, like automatic safety controls that will prevent you from flying into restricted airspace, like an airport. It will also let you set height and distance limitations to keep in line with laws. Considering FAA regulations are still a few steps behind the commercial drone market, it sounds like a good feature to have, and DJI says it will roll out similar firmware to other Phantom models soon.
Of course, it all comes at a cost. Pre-orders are open now for the drone at $1,299, which is $100 more than the previous Phantom 2 Vision model. While prices for drones have dropped over the years, we're still at a point that you'll need to be pretty serious about the video you shoot to buy one of these for yourself. For amateur video, something like the $299 Parrot AR.Drone 2 is probably a better idea. Pros, meanwhile, will want to use their own camera gear on far more precise drones, but those cost thousands.