Editors' note: Yuneec has officially priced the Typhoon H at $1,299. It starts shipping in April.
When I first read the description for Yuneec's Typhoon H camera drone, which it launched at CES 2016, I thought it must be huge.
The $1,300 hexacopter, available in April, has carbon fiber retractable landing gear to get out of the way of its 360-degree rotating gimbal camera when it's up in the air. Sonar sensors in front keep it from running into large obstacles like buildings and cars and an additional sensor module underneath helps it fly indoors without the assistance of GPS for stability. Plus, it has six rotors attached to the body by collapsible carbon fiber arms.
The fact is, once the arms are down and you twist the props off (and they do come off with just a twist and lock in place just as easily), it measures 309x270x255 mm (12.1x10.6x10 inches). That's considerably smaller than the Typhoon Q500 series I reviewed last year. It'll actually fit in a large backpack.
The rest of the Typhoon H is more advanced than the Q500 series, as you might expect given its price. That includes safety features that have become standards for high-end ready-to-fly models, such as geofencing and no fly zones as well as dynamic and low-battery return to home. It also has a failsafe system that will keep the Typhoon H stable and land it if a motor fails so you don't watch your investment plummet to the ground.
Yuneec also plans to have an add-on module that uses Intel RealSense technology for collision avoidance, as well as additional camera options such as an advanced IR camera.
Included with the H is the Android-based ST16 controller, which has a 7-inch integrated touch-screen display. You can use the display to get a first-person view from the camera, see important flight info, set up autonomous flight plans using waypoints and perform other camera moves such as Point of Interest, Orbit and Curved Cable. The H can be used to follow or watch you by tracking the controller's position.