DJI might be fast becoming the GoPro of flying cameras, but drones like the new Aries BlackBird X10 are going to keep things interesting for the category.
Available exclusively from electronics retailer Adorama, the $799 ready-to-fly quadcopter (currently $699 through to February 1, 2015) is made for photo and video enthusiasts more than RC hobbyists. That roughly converts to £520 for the UK and AU$965 in Australia; Adorama offers shipping worldwide.
Like DJI's Phantom Vision quadcopters, the BlackBird X10 has a built-in camera. In this case it's a 16-megapixel one with an f2.8 lens with a 120-degree angle of view. You can use it for grabbing stills as well as 1080p video at 30 frames per second (25fps PAL).
Though the camera is not on a gimbal to help keep video looking smooth, the X10 itself has a six-axis gyro for stability and GPS to keep it hovering in place even if the wind blows it around. The radio transmitter has camera controls onboard, so you can start and stop recordings, snap photos and tilt the camera up to 90 degrees.
The controller can also be paired with an iPhone or Android device to give you a first-person view from the camera and give you full control of it, too. A 2.4GHz Wi-Fi range extender keeps your mobile device connected from approximately 1,000 feet or 304.8 meters away.
Should the transmitter lose its connection with the X10, a return-to-home failsafe will kick in. Guided by GPS, the quadcopter will return to its approximate take-off spot and land on its own.
Flight time is rated at up to 25 minutes, which is pretty good for a drone of this size and price. Similar to DJI's Phantoms, the battery is slot-loaded, making swapping them out fast and easy. Likewise, the props are color-coded, so you don't end up putting them on incorrectly.
One thing the X10 has that others don't is a weather-protected frame. Adorama says you'll be able to fly it in light rain or snow, which could make for some spectacular winter photos.
The Aries BlackBird X10 is available to buy now and starts shipping on December 10.