Parrot’s latest iteration on its flagship Anafi drone is all about immersion. The new Anafi FPV (for first person view) is being sold as a package with a headset that puts pilots in their drone’s perspective. But instead of a dedicated screen inside the goggles, Parrot’s approach is to have users slot a smartphone in, similar to headsets like the Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard.
The Anafi FPV package will cost $799 when it goes on sale later this month. It will include the drone, the glasses, a controller, extra propellers, a battery, a 16GB microSD card, and a USB-C cable. The Anafi FPV also comes with a new backpack that Parrot says can “double as a stable platform” for launching the drone.
FPV drones are experiencing a bit of a boom right now. Drone racers are leveraging the skills they’ve developed in competition into side gigs shooting commercials, creating videos that go viral, and even capturing live footage during sporting events like Formula Drift. DJI recently released its own pair of FPV goggles and a small, high-definition transmitter that can be attached to just about anything in an attempt to wade into this new slice of the market.
Parrot’s modular, smartphone-powered approach to FPV headsets is bound to offer a lower-resolution experience than the purpose-built goggles sold by companies like DJI or Fat Shark. It’s compatible with smartphones as big as 6.5 inches, though splitting a smartphone screen to two eyes tends to be a lousy experience. But as with most things Parrot does, the company is likely betting that a slightly lower price tag will be enough to sway some customers who can’t afford to shell out $700 or more for just the FPV goggles.
Parrot’s Anafi drone was viewed as a sort of direct answer to DJI’s Mavic Air when it was released in the middle of 2018, as it’s similarly small and can fold up for easy storage. The Anafi does have a unique camera that tilts up and down 180 degrees, but we were ultimately disappointed with the image quality coming off of the 1/2.4-inch, 21-megapixel sensor when we reviewed the drone last year.
The Anafi also lacks some of the flight mode and safety features found in the Mavic Air. But Parrot is trying to even the score a bit by adding a few new flight features to the Anafi FPV. There’s a cinematic mode that locks the camera’s horizon to the horizontal tilt of the drone. There’s a racing preset that promises more “aggressive”-looking footage. And the Anafi FPV has an “arcade mode” that automatically matches the drone’s flight path to the direction the camera is pointed.
None of these new modes do anything to address some of the Anafi’s performance deficiencies (when compared to the Mavic Air), but it’s nice to see Parrot continue improving its flagship drone — especially since the company is exiting the toy drone market. Parrot issued a blitz of software updates in the Anafi’s earliest days that dramatically improved the drone’s image quality, and earlier this year the company released a new version outfitted with a thermal camera. All that may not be enough to put a dent in DJI’s stranglehold on the consumer drone market, but it shows Parrot will keep trying to please the customers who keep coming back, while also still trying to win over a few new ones.