These days, the choices are plentiful for pint-sized, remote-controlled drones that safely tuck away in pockets. Aerix Drones (formerly known as Axis Drones) has evolved one of its most successful models with a virtual reality twist. The Vidius VR drone is designed to immerse users in live, first-person-view flights through the use of special VR goggles.
Aerix Drones is no stranger to creating quadcopters that are portable and affordable. We've previously reviewed the Aerius and Vidius drones, finding each to be great options for anyone looking to learn and/or have some fun. With the help of customer feedback, Aerix has significantly improved the latter by upgrading hardware and adding new features.
The Vidius VR drone keeps the same 1.7 x 1.7 x 1 in (4.3 x 4.3 x 2.5 cm) form as its predecessor, but now packs a far more capable video system. This new camera is said to offer higher resolution, brighter colors, and smoother images overall. More importantly, the wide-angle lens will provide users a greater range of sight when flying the drone via mobile app (available for iOS and Android).
Tablets and smartphones pair with the Vidius VR drone up to a range of 100 ft (30 m) directly through Wi-Fi — no local network or internet access is required. This connection allows the 480p video feed to stream directly to devices in real-time. Pilots seeking a true cockpit view need only set the app to "Goggle Mode," slide the smartphone into the (included) Aerix VR goggles, and then fly the Vidius VR using its 2.4 gHz controller.
Compact drones can be tricky to operate, given that the lack of sophisticated hardware – often found in larger, more expensive models — makes them subject to vertical and horizontal drift. Aerix has equipped the Vidius VR with an altitude assistance module, which is a barometer-styled device designed to help the drone adjust and maintain steady height. Users will be able to focus more on directional flight with less worry about the drone dropping too low or soaring too high.
Crashes happen, quite often leading to lost or damaged propeller blades. The Vidius VR sports removable blade guards that are meant to protect the drone and reduce the instances of blade replacements. Users can also activate an emergency blade stop when a crash is imminent — we've found that spinning blades quickly project across entire rooms or tangle up in grass, hair, or string.
Each 20-minute charge through the included USB cable is good for five-to-seven minutes of flight time. As with Aerix's other drones, the Vidius VR offers 6-axis gyro stabilization, pre-programmed speeds, trick mode, and LED running lights. Best of all, no FAA registration is required.
The Aerix Vidius VR drone is available now for a pre-order sale price of US$75, saving $20 off the planned retail. Each Vidius VR drone comes complete with a 2.4 gHz controller/transmitter (2x AAA batteries sold separately), VR goggles headset, USB charge cable, one set of replacement blades, mini screwdriver, and a mini blade removal tool.
This isn't the first tiny drone we've seen promising a virtual-reality experience. The Micro-Drone 3.0 launched a successful Indiegogo campaign for a similar item last year but, based on the comments on that campaign, it's been somewhat less than successful in delivering. At least Aerix actually has a track record of producing drones, so you should be in better hands with them.
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