The Dobby drone from ZeroTech arrived from China. Check out the unboxing and hands-on review of this small and feature packed Chinese drone.
I ordered ZeroTech's Dobby drone right away when the pre-order began in mid June. This small drone from China was just too good to be true. If you have not seen the Dobby promo video, do it now before reading my review of the Dobby. The pocket selfie drone arrived directly from China yesterday. I paid $350 for this Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 powered video camera drone at Fate UAV. The store has since increased the price by $100 to $449.99.
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The packaging of the Dobby drone resembles that of an Apple iPhone. The build quality of the drone fits the nice packaging. The foldable wings, propellers and body are well crafted and feel solid.
The Dobby is designed for indoor and outdoor use. the Dobby drone, as reported when it was announced in China in May, has GPS and visual navigation features. The 13MP camera takes stabilized videos and images. The video records at 1080p. Photos are captured with 4K resolution. The Dobby drone streams live video via Wi-fi to smartphones.
The package contains besides the drone, a battery module (970mAh), battery charger, USB cable, USB cable adapter and US power-plug, useable in Europe with adapter (100-240V). The main issue I am faced with right away is the lack of an English language manual. The packaged manual is only in Chinese, making the operation of the Dobby drone a try and error experience.
First thing is to charge the battery in the battery charger. The drone does not take off on low battery charge. It takes well over an hour to fully charge the battery. Once charged I placed the battery pack on the drone. It clicks into place nicely. The next step is to get the Dobby drone app. This is not straight forward as the app is not called "Dobby." It is called "Do.Fun." It's free in the iTunes app store.
The app makes you create an account at Dobby. Not sure for what that is good for. Next is to connect the iPhone via Wi-fi to the drone. The Dobby drone's SSD is "Dobby-xxxxxx". The six digits in the SSD vary by drone. The password for the Dobby drone W-Fi network is zerotech.
Once connected the app shows the live video feed of the Dobby camera. It also displays battery charge level, GPS satellite connection status and altitude. The app notified me about a firmware update for the drone. The update (version 1.36) download and installed via wifi very quickly.
You can't fly the Dobby drone in doors at the beginning. It is set to novice mode and you are forced to go outside. Only when the Dobby drone has locked 7 GPS satellites the drone takes off. To start the drone, I need to hold the arrow icon on the screen for several seconds and a countdown starts. After the countdown ends, the four rotors start to spin. The noise of the four motors and propellers are somewhat annoying. Its a high pitch spinning noise.
I did not initially had any luck to control the drone via motion sensing. I switched to "swipe screen" control mode in the settings of the Dobby app.
My first flight of the Dobby drone started out good. Dobby hovered right in front of me. Then I started to move it with swipes on the screen, but suddenly the drone flew sideways and crashed. It is definitely advisable to find a wide open space for the first flight with your Dobby. I thought I had enough space, but it was not and I hit a car when it crashed. The Dobby drone survived and the rotors only got a bit dirty.
The second flight was much better. I was able to fly the Dobby up and down and left and right by swiping accordingly on the iPhone screen. Here is my biggest issue with the Dobby drone and this is true for probably all small drones, the battery just holds a couple minutes. I just started to get the hang of flying the drone and next thing, the Dobby automatically lands because the battery is below 10%. So back in the office and re-charge.
The video quality of the Dobby is acceptable. The stabilization as you can see in the short video below is not perfect. There was a bit of wind as you can see on the moving branches. To download videos and photos from the Dobby's internal 16GB storage, I select the assets in the media viewer in the Dobby app (image icon on main screen). The videos and photos are automatically then transferred into the iPhone photo folder, which is convenient.
Update: I have made another video with the Dobby drone chasing geese.
Apparently all advanced features and in-door flying are enabled when I have logged 30 minutes of flying time. I can't test the trajectory flight and the other tricks that the Dobby drone is capable of yet. I will update this review once I can get access to these features.
The Dobby drone is an interesting little drone. The build quality and stability is convincing. Despite the lack of an English manual the basic operation of the Dobby drone is easy to understand. The app, by the way, is in English. The battery life is too short, but that is a problem of all smaller drones. The video quality is decent, but it is not 4K. This is a unique and fun gadget for $350 that takes time to learn and fully leverage. For now I give the Dobby drone a thumbs up. I will continue using it to unlock the "cool" features and update this review with my experience and also make some more exciting drone videos soon.
Update: I have now figured out how to fly the Dobby drone. Now it is really fun. This little drone is fast and highly maneuverable. I will update this review on Monday with full details on how to fly the Dobby drone and with new footage.
See the gallery below for unpacking photos and detailed views of the Dobby drone.
Update: I finally was able to switch off the Novice mode and fly the Dobby drone indoors and without satellite connections. Also the landing on my palm works now, and it is a great feature. Read all about the Dobby Advanced features.
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The new Dobby Drone firmware update enables finally face tracking and target tracking. I have not tested it yet, but will do that this weekend. I will have an update about these advanced video drone features early next week. Update: I have finished testing the Dobby drone automatic target tracking. Watch a video and learn about the details of the Dobby Target Tracking feature.