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Ehang Ghost 2.0 drone materializes in April starting at $599

After its initial appearance last November and a big showing at CES 2016, the smartphone-controlled camera drone that offers a "VR" experience arrives at the end of the month.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Ehang commanded attention at CES 2016 with the Ehang 184, a battery-powered octocopter capable of autonomously flying a single passenger for 23 minutes at about 60 miles per hour. Though you likely won't see a 184 flying overhead anytime soon, the Chinese startup's Ghost 2.0 camera drone, which was also at the show, is heading to stores by the end of April.

The Ghost 1.0 drone got its start as an Indiegogo campaign in early 2015 and although this update doesn't look too different from the original, a company spokesperson told me there are improvements throughout, starting with how it's controlled.

Like the first one, the Ghost 2.0 is mainly piloted with an iPhone or Android phone and not a traditional RC controller. You pair your device with a pocket-sized transmitter called a G-Box and using your phone's internal accelerometer and gyroscope you just tilt your phone in the direction you want the Ghost to fly. You can also use the Ehang Play mobile app to plot the Ghost's course as well as have the drone follow you. Basically, Ehang fine-tuned the entire user experience -- from the app to the connectivity to the performance -- from the first version.

The big selling point for many, though, will be the company's new VR goggles. Promising a zero latency video feed from the onboard camera, the goggles will not only give you a first-person view from the sky, but you'll be able to control the camera angle just by moving your head.

The Ghost 2.0 will be available in an Aerial version for $599, which includes a three-axis gimbal for use with a GoPro Hero3 or Hero4 camera or similar style action cam. The VR version comes with the aforementioned goggles and a gimbal-stabilized 4K-resolution camera for $1,099. Both include a 12-month warranty and 24/7 customer support. Pricing for UK and Australia wasn't available, but they convert to about £420 and £770, or AU$775 and AU$1,400.

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