When GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) hinted it was in the process of creating its own drone in May of 2015, there were some great expectations, because after all the action cameras it makes are known for their versatility, functionality and reliability. For many outdoor enthusiasts, they were hoping the same features would translate to the drone. And by all accounts, GoPro (GPRO) seems to have succeeded with Karma, a beautifully designed drone the company says is easy to fly, extremely portable and affordable.
There is a lot of excitement regarding drone technology because it has many potential business applications in addition to the entertainment value it provides the hobbyist. This has created a huge market with a wide range of drone technology.
There are cheap drones you can get for under $150, and drones for thousands of dollars depending on your requirements. And with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently implementing new regulations for operating drones, it is only a matter of time before you can get your burritos and online purchases delivered using this technology.
The Karma is not going to deliver burritos anytime soon, but you will be able to shoot 4K video from a drone that has been specifically designed to address the needs of outdoor enthusiasts and the businesses that cater to them.
So here is a breakdown of what you will get with Karma.
The Karma Case
Unlike the big, bulky cases used to carry other drones, the Karma Case is compact. It has a durable shell and a built-in shoulder mount for the Karma Grip. (More on that later!) There are images of people on skis and bikes with the case, and it looks like it doesn’t get in the way of them carrying out their activities.
If you have played any kind of video games in the past 20 years, the controller for the new GoPro Karma drone pretty much looks like one. It has two joysticks and an integrated five inch touch display with 720p resolution and four hours of battery life.
Karma Grip Handle and Stabilizer
The Karma Grip Handle is used to attach the stabilizer and control different functions on the camera. It can be attached on the Karma Case or other objects, such as a bike or car for hands free operation, or you can use your hands to get up close for hard to capture video.
The Karma Stabilizer holds the HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO4 Black/Silver cameras so you can get steady images no matter what you are doing. Whether it is on the drone or the Karma Grip, it provides professional quality stabilization.
The Karma Drone
The Karma Drone is compact and foldable, and fits in the case but is ready to go out of the box. Once you get it out of the case, a single button will make it take off and land. The Karma can go at speeds of up to 35 mph with maximum distance of 3,280ft (1,000m), and flight altitudes of 14,500ft (4,500m). The flight time is basically the same as other drones in this price range, which comes to around 20 minutes.
What the Karma has going for it is name recognition and ease of use. Having the GoPro name alone will attract customer who might not even have considered a drone. As for the ease of use, the controller has a built in flight simulator program so you can become proficient flying the Karma before you actually fly it.
There is a new Passenger mobile app that lets your friends view what the camera on the drone is seeing on their smartphone or tablet.
GoPro is known for the large number of accessories it provides for its cameras, and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the Karma. You can get a replacement for everything on the drone, including the body, the propellers, arms, batteries, landing gear and more from the company’s site.
If you are going to use drones to capture video footage of your customers skiing, kayaking, surfing or you are in a different industry and you monitor, survey or secure industrial facilities or private properties, the Karma drone is well suited for the job.
The only limitation is your imagination when it comes to monetizing drones. And as the FAA continues to make it easier to get licensed and fly a drone, the opportunities will increase.
This is GoPro’s first drone, and it is pretty good for a first outing. However, it doesn’t have subject tracking, auto-follow or object avoidance. These are features that are readily available even on drones that are priced less than the Karma. The leader in the market is DJI, and the company has some great drones with a lot more features and longer flight times. While name recognition will get GoPro some customers, if the company wants to keep up with the likes of DJI and avoid customer attrition, it will have to come up with a better version for its next model.
Price and Availability
The Karma without a camera will cost you $799. The bundle with the GoPro Hero 5 Black will run you $1,099, and if you want the Hero 5 Session it will be $999. As of now, availability is slated for October 23, 2016.
Whether you are getting the Karma or another drone, make sure you are well informed regarding the regulations in your particular area. You can get more information on the FAA’s site here.