There are dozens of drones at CES this year in the area of the show floor my editor colloquially calls "the drone zone." So one obvious challenge for these companies is figuring out how to differentiate their products from each other, whether they do it with splashy drone concepts or by ditching the common multi-rotor form factor altogether.
But ProDrone is relying on something else to make its new Byrd model stand out: ultra-portability.
The Byrd has a standard quadcopter design, but can be folded into the size of an iPad, albeit a few inches thicker. The four arms fold into the body and the propellers tuck in without a need for dissembling. The drone’s built-in landing gear can also be folded manually to the bottom of the drone and then stored in a backpack or purse. Finally, the Byrd has a camera gimbal that can be removed without a need for a wrench, making it one of the more modular drones on the market today.
Drone cases are notoriously expensive and some manufacturers sell backpacks or cases specifically designed for travelling, but they're often cumbersome to lug around. This advantage of the Byrd should make it an appealing and affordable product for drone users of all levels.
Despite its foldability, the Byrd is still relatively heavy, weighing in at four pounds. That's mostly due to its 7000mah battery, which gives you 29 minutes of flight time — more than DJI’s Inspire 1 or Phantom 3. But it also has great lift. It can carry a payload of up to five pounds, meaning the Byrd can carry lighter DSLR cameras. ProDone sells gimbal mounts that support a range of Sony DSLRs as well as the Canon 5D.
At $949 for the standard edition, it’s $50 less than the Phantom 3 4K, but the Byrd only comes with a 1080p camera. If you want a 4K camera on the Byrd, you’ll have to shell out $1,399 for the Premium edition, which also comes with infrared and Follow Me as bonus features. The Byrd Standard edition will begin shipping at the end January while the Premium and the $1,049 Advanced edition will start shipping in March.