The world's most popular drone maker unveiled new versions of its two most popular models today. The Inspire 1 was tweaked in a pretty basic way, you can now buy it in black. But the Phantom line got a really interesting new addition, the Phantom 3 4K. It doesn't have DJI's Lightbridge video downlink system, relying on Wi-Fi instead. That means your live video feed has less range and lower quality. In exchange, DJI added its 4K camera, which previously was only available on its most expensive Phantom 3 Professional.
The tradeoff here is between the quality of the final recorded image and the range at which you can effectively pilot the drone. With the Lightbridge system, DJI says you can get an HD stream from the drone's camera at a distance of 5 kilometers, or roughly 3.1 miles. With the new Phantom 3 4K, which relies on Wi-Fi, you get a 480p image and a maximum range of 1.2 kilometers or roughly three-quarters of a mile. The Phantom 3 4K costs $999, versus $1,259 for the Professional.
In the United States, it's against FAA regulations to fly a drone beyond a pilot's line of sight. So for most beginners, three-quarters of a mile is plenty of range. But in our testing, the HD video feed made possible with Lightbridge definitely helps you to understand the footage you're capturing and frame the best shot.
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