The Dobby Drone is designed to be pocket sized so you’ll take it with you more often and with the Dobby you’ll be able to snap selfies from a distance. Most of you have never heard of the maker’s of Dobby, but ZEROTECH was actually founded back in 2009 and with years of experience in developing drones, they’ve developed more than 1,000 algorithms for flight control, gimbals, cameras, image transmission, obstacle avoidance and computer vision.
The basic setup of the Dobby is straight forward, just grab the mobile app for iOS or Android, power on the drone and connect it to your device. From there all you need to do is snap out the 4 foldable legs that hold the props and you’re ready to fly. The Dobby is designed for both indoor and outdoor use, but be warned, its pretty easy to crash, so give yourself plenty of space, especially when you’re new at it.
When it comes to flying the Dobby, you have a couple of control schemes available. After some experimentation I landed back on the initial tilt-based control option. By default the drone will hover in place, but once you press and hold with the right hand you can simply tilt your phone forward/back or left/right to move the drone. With the Dobby the camera in the body pointed at you is always the zero position and everything is relative from that which goes to the focus of the product, taking 13 megapixel selfies..
While getting the drone into position and taking photos works fine, there’s time where you’ll want to switch to video to capture more of the experience. If you park the drone in the air and let the action play out in front of it, that works great, the 1080p video (especially during the day) will be decent. What is harder to pull off is sophisticated panning shots and as the camera is mounted to the drone, rather than a seperate gimbal, your only option is to tilt the controller to the side to fly sideways, but then swipe with your left thumb at the same time to turn the drone. This does get better with practice, but it is exactly a thousand times harder than a drone with a physical controller and flight sticks.
So after making sure the batteries are charged and you’ve packed your Dobby to capture the adventure, you’ll do so with the 199 gram drone being driven by a 970mAh lithium polymer battery. I got two with the review unit and with a standalone charger (featuring Quick Charge by Quallcomm), its great to be able to charge while flying using the other. Each battery will deliver you about 9 minutes of flying, which isn’t long for video, but if you are actually taking selfies from an elevated 10-20 meters, from different locations, you’ll be able snap quite a few.
DOBBY is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight platform, a highly optimized platform targeted specifically for consumer drones and robotics applications.
The Dobby drone tips the scales at a very light 199 grams, not much more than most smart phones. Hopefully we soon ditch the physical wallet and that’ll free up your other pocket for devices like this.
When folded up it measures just 135mm x 67mm x 36.8. When extended the width blows out to 145mm.. and a little more if you bolt on the optional prop guards that just snap into place.
You can control the drone from up to 100 meters away, but I’d be very nervous about hitting the limit of that. There’s also the flight time to consider which is around the advertised 9 minutes, depending on how much work the brains have to do on keeping it stable if there’s wind.
The hovering accuracy is certainly not laser like with the Dobby, there’s enough movement that video feels a little like a person’s natural movement while holding a camera, rather than ultimate rock solid hover and hold in place exactly. Its not a big deal and if you’re really keen could be solved by applying a warp filter in Adobe Premiere.
The actual specs of the drone’s accuracy are:
- Vertical：+/-0.1 Meters(During Normal Operation With Optical Flow Positioning)；+/-0.5 Meters (Outdoors）
- Horizontal：+/- 0.3 Metres(During Normal Operation With Optical Flow Positioning)；+/- 1.0 Meters(Outdoors）
The camera that points from the front of the device (or backwards depending on your perspective), has a 75° field of view which actually captures an impressive amount even when close to you. This means if you’re in a confined space you’ll get a fair bit of the background in the shot.
The angle of the camera can be physically adjusted before flight, so if you know you’ll be flying high, you’ll need to accommodate for that, I found myself typically flying just above eyeline.
The still photos that come from Dobby are 42018 x 3120 pixels and look great during daytime, as the sun sets and light tapers off, the photos got grainy quick. Given you aren’t meant to be flying at night, this won’t be a massive problem for most.
When it comes to video, the Dobby can record in 4K at 30fps, but if you leverage Image Stabilization (you want to) that drops down to 1080p at 30fps.
Price and Availability
The Dobby Drone is available now in Australia for A$599.00 from https://www.dobby.net.au
The Dobby drone is pitched on its ability to take selfies, but the biggest asset is absolutely its portability and ability to capture the world you’re experiencing. Far too often we find ourselves in amazing places and return home without a good set of photos or video of us in those environments. The Dobby is small enough, light enough to pack in your backpack, handbag, or even pocket everywhere you go.
The price is steep and the small, fast spinning blades can cut you, but if you can look past those things, its a solid offering. Just understand what your buying here isn’t equivalent to a Phantom 4, nor is it trying to be, in terms of the number of times you’ll have the drone available to depoly, the Dobby is far better.
Its a lot of fun to play with, despite the noise it makes being quite loud, the control input options are configurable enough to suit most users from beginners to experts. That said, every drone without a dedicated controller always has a question mark in my mind and the hovering precision definitely needs improving in future iterations.
Overall its a solid offering and for its size you’re getting something pretty unique. Ignore the selfie drone marketing, that grabs headlines, but if your a serious buyer, you’ll be far more interesting in its ability to travel with you wherever you go, while leaving the selfie stick at home.
More information at zerotech.com