When I reviewed the consumer-grade drones on the market recently, the clear winner was the DJI Phantom. It has a combination of performance, durability, and a simple learning curve that no other unit can match. I was hoping that 3D-Robotic's Iris, which is pitched as a unit for the average consumer, would provide a nice alternative. But in my testing it was far more difficult to master and not nearly as well-built or easy to assemble.
That makes some sense, since DJI is now on its fifth or sixth generation of Phantom, while the Iris is 3D-Robotics' first venture into consumer units meant for the average joe, not the obsessive hobbyist. Today, however, came some big news for the drone world. Colin Guinn, the man who ran DJI's North American operations until the middle of last year, and was often the public face of consumer drones in the popular press, will be joining 3D-Robotics as their new senior vice president of sales and marketing. You can check him out in this video below from a report we did on drones back at SXSW 2012.
It's a major get for 3D-Robotics and a move that shows it's serious about competing with DJI, not just in the world of industrial-grade drones and enterprise systems, but in the market for retail consumers as well. The press release about the Guinn hire noted that 3D-Robotics is getting ready to "launch multiple new products and upgrade software platforms to include industry-first feature sets." Hopefully that means a lot of cool new units for us to test in the near future.
You can see the Phantom and Iris in action (or not) in the This Is My Next review video below.