Having already shown off its chops last year with an egg-shaped PowerEgg ($499 at Amazon Marketplace) drone, Beijing-based PowerVision is taking to the seas and lakes with its new PowerRay, one of the most easiest drones I've piloted by far.
Unlike with flying drones, you don't have to worry about the PowerRay running into trees or crash-landing and hitting someone. But you do have to take care not to smash into rocks or the undersides of boats while avoiding sharks. (Or ducks, depending on where you pilot it.)
The controls are easy -- one joystick controls the depth, the other handles movement. The drone stays in place unless there are strong currents to push it around, so you can easily hover and watch its footage in high resolution through the your Android or iOS phone. It connects to your phone over Wi-Fi from its base station, which is connected to the drone with a 50m (164 feet) or 70m (229 feet) cable. Wi-Fi doesn't work well under water, so the drone needs to be tethered.
If the line gets cut, the PowerRay will automatically float back up to the surface, so there's no fear of losing it. The cable is also rated to withstand up to 30kg of pressure, so it should be hard to snap -- unless a shark decides to bite through it, of course. There are two 450-lumen lights in the front to help navigate dim underwater conditions.
The PowerRay is surprisingly zippy, able to hit up to 2m per second at max speed. That meant it was pretty darn fast when I tried it. It gave me quite a scare by pulling the cable connected to the base station off my table as it jetted away. But if you want to go slow, you can always select the lowest of the three speed modes for a more manageable experience.
Other key things to note include a sonar Fishfinder attachment that scans for fishes, as well as a bait dropper to attract fish to your drone. You can also use a pair of VR goggles for a first person view experience.
The PowerRay is already on sale in the US, EU and Asia. Prices start from $1,488, which converts to about £1,070 or AU$1,910, though prices may differ in individual markets. If you're living in Southeast Asia, PowerVision has released a price breakdown for individual markets such as Singapore, Thailand and more here.
- Depth capacity: 30 meters (98 feet)
- Max sailing time: 0.5 to 4 hours depending on usage
- Camera: 12-megapixel, 4K video, F2.8, 95 degree field of view
- Storage: 32GB or 64GB
- Weight: 3.8kg (8.3 lbs)