As a drone fanatic, I used to be intrigued to find EXO Drones, a U.S.-based, shopper drone firm. Although the corporate has had shut ties to Chinese language drone maker Hubsan it was just lately acquired by American firm OpenStore.
With its OpenStore tie, EXO is selling itself as a substitute for Chinese language drones like DJI (extra on whether or not it’s truthful to name it an American drone firm later) OpenStore paid $2.9 million in an all-cash supply in August 2022.
The concept of a U.S.-based shopper drone firm is actually compelling given the lengthy listing of nice causes to buy an American-made drone. However the actuality is that one of the best digital camera drones are usually not made within the U.S., largely as a consequence of components like weak manufacturing infrastructure and excessive price of labor. Realizing all that, my curiosity was piqued after I just lately had the possibility to fly EXO drone’s newest launch, the Blackhawk 3 Professional.
So, will the Blackhawk 3 Professional make the listing of one of the best digital camera drones made within the USA? Effectively, not but. Whereas EXO drones (owned by Miami-based OpenStore) designs and handles the achievement of the drones, they’re nonetheless manufactured outdoors the U.S.
An EXO spokesperson mentioned the corporate is actively exploring avenues to do much more manufacturing within the U.S., probably capitalizing on the heavy curiosity in American-made drones. Nonetheless, I made a decision to check out the Blackhawk 3 Professional from EXO Drones.
The Blackhawk 3 Professional begins at $1,249 however is at the moment on sale for $949 on their web site and solely $849 on Amazon. Given the lower cost tag, plus different potential advantages of buying on Amazon like ultra-fast transport, an extra 5% again with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card, and simple returns, buying on Amazon is a no brainer.
The No. 1 motive why the Blackhawk 3 Professional stands out is its spectacular 53 minutes of flight time. This is without doubt one of the longest flight occasions you possibly can obtain on any shopper drone. Amongst different highlights of the Blackhawk 3 Professional:
- 200 Mbps HDR 4K video high quality
- 9+ mile vary
- 1/1.3 inch CMOS Sensor
Be taught extra concerning the latest drone from the American-based drone firm, EXO drones, and extra of those options in my overview of the Blackhawk 3 Professional right here:
Am spectacular 53-minute flight time (virtually)
After I initially opened up the Blackhawk Professional 3, I used to be shocked to see just one battery included within the package. Nevertheless, after studying via the specs, I spotted, you don’t want spare batteries.
The Blackhawk 3 Professional has a 53-minute battery life, one thing you don’t see on daily basis within the drone market. As an illustration, DJI’s newest shopper drone launch, the DJI Mini 4 Professional has 34 minutes (or 45 minutes while you buy an extra clever battery).
After I took the Blackhawk 3 Professional out to fly, I used to be out flying, the drone obtained very near reaching that 53 minutes of flight time. I used to be notified of a low battery after round 47 minutes, and personally, I by no means danger flying as soon as I get that notification.
Nevertheless, it’s price noting, that the controller nonetheless had loads of battery left when the drone was low battery. By buying an additional battery (for an extra $150), you can fly the Blackhawk 3 Professional for hours.
The prolonged flight time is kind of spectacular, however there are some particular trade-offs, specifically the battery measurement and weight.
It’s virtually double the dimensions and weight of the DJI Mini 4 Professional’s battery. With the battery, the drone itself weighs 600g at take-off, in comparison with the Mini 4 Professional at 249 g.
The load of the drone is necessary not solely as a result of it makes it simpler to move however for authorized causes. Drones below 250 grams don’t have to be registered with the FAA for leisure operations.
Blackhawk 3 Professional digital camera and clever options
To fly the Blackhawk 3 Professional, you’ll must obtain the EXO app and join your cellphone to the controller. The app and controller are each user-friendly. The drone additionally has an prolonged exploration characteristic permitting you to fly with a 9+ mile vary on a single cost.
The primary few flights have been clean with a pointy 4K video high quality. The 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor permits for wealthy coloring and pure lighting transitions. The video high quality on the Blackhawk 3 Professional holds as much as one of the best shopper digital camera drones out there. The Blackhawk 3 Professional additionally has a permitting for low-light captures. However whereas the digital camera high quality is nice, the flying high quality? Not a lot.
The Blackhawk 3 Professional promotes a spread of Clever Flight Modes, like ‘Comply with Me’, “Return to Residence’ and GPS Routing. However whereas some options like return to house, labored nice, others didn’t work in any respect. After I put the drone into Comply with Me mode the drone appeared to malfunction and crashed into the grass.
I attempted this mode just a few extra occasions, however I used to be unable to get Comply with Me mode to work. I continued flying with out utilizing the clever options, nonetheless, I shortly confronted one other impediment after I obtained an error alert relating to my gimbal.
The error notification repeated time and again with a loud beeping noise. Fixing and recalibrating the gimbal was easy. Nevertheless, it takes a while and the beeping and error message repeats loudly till the error is fastened.
I attempted to discover a setting to show off voice notifications or the amount, however I couldn’t. Total, the footage captured was clear and top quality, however the general flying expertise was rocky.
When it comes to value, the Blackhawk 3 Professional’s closest DJI drone competitor is the DJI Mini 4 Professional. The DJI Mini 4 Professional begins at $759. The DJI Mini 4 Professional is $90 cheaper than the Blackhawk 3 Professional.
Under is a side-by-side comparability of the specs of the 2 drones:
|Blackhawk 3 Professional
|DJI Mini 4 Professional
|< 259 g
|118.7 x 172.5 x 67.6mm
|Max Flight Time
|Max Wind Velocity
|Max Video Res
The Blackhawk 3 Professional’s most spectacular characteristic stays the battery life, together with the utmost wind pace. Each drones have related digital camera options. The Mini 4 Professional has barely higher video decision.
In virtually each method, the DJI Mini 4 Professional wins.
The DJI Mini 4 Professional additionally has omnidirectional impediment avoidance, whereas the Blackhawk 3 Professional has downward avoidance. This makes the DJI Mini 4 Professional a significantly extra secure drone than the Blackhawk 3 Professional. The Blackhawk 3 Professional has impediment sensors positioned on the underside of the drone. On the flip facet, the Mini 4 has them in each course.
With the Mini 4 Professional, you’ll lower your expenses and have a safer drone. So, this begs the query, who’s the Blackhawk 3 Professional for?
If American corporations are a precedence for you, then actually contemplate buying this drone. With out outright naming DJI, EXO’s advertising and marketing ways have leaned into the gang of anti-DJI pilots.
“For greater than a decade, there was little technical competitors in digital camera drones,” in response to a press release on EXO’s web page. “One model with no competitors means they will do no matter they want- and so they do. Excessive costs, non-existent help, and promoting your personal information to China.”
That’s all a transparent jab at DJI, which has been met with considerations (notably from authorities businesses) about information privateness. It’s gotten so brutal for DJI, that the corporate is on a authorities blacklist.
However EXO isn’t precisely made in America, provided that manufacturing happens abroad. Nonetheless, with EXO you’ll expertise lots of the perks of shopping for American, like supporting the native financial system and having extra dependable customer support.
And whereas the flying expertise might not be as clean as DJI and different China-made rivals like Autel, you’ll hardly discover the distinction in post-production by way of video and picture high quality.