Yuneec is known for a few professional-grade drones like the feature-packed Typhoon series, but now the company is targeting a more casual breed of pilot. The Breeze is a selfie-taking drone that strips out some of the more elaborate elements of its bigger siblings and aims to let users focus on the photos, not the flying.
The company is positioning the Breeze as more of a "flying camera" than a drone for hobbyists, so the first thing on the chopping block is the Typhoon's complex airframe. The Breeze trades in the retractable landing gear, two of the rotors and the gimbal, tucking the camera up a slimmer body that, at 196 x 196 x 65 mm (7.7 x 7.7 x 2.5 in), is less than half the size of its predecessors.
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The high-end obstacle avoidance system from the Typhoon H Pro is out too, in favor of simpler positioning systems using infrared and GPS. And while Yuneec's higher-end drones are driven with dedicated controllers, in this case control has been handed over to a smartphone app in order to make the Breeze more portable and (potentially) easier to use.
Along with a manual Pilot mode, the Breeze app offers a few automatic flight modes to lend a hand to those interested in the end product more than the process. Selfie mode allows users to adjust sliders to control the drone's distance, altitude and position prior to snapping a shot, while Journey mode locks the camera on a target, then uses those same sliders to move it forwards or backwards to frame the shot. Common drone modes like Orbit and Follow Me are also included.
The camera itself swivels 90 degrees up and down, shoots 4K video and takes 13 megapixel stills, or streams 720p live video to the Breeze app. The app also allows users to edit, caption and save photos and videos, before sharing them directly to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and the like.
After 30 to 40 minutes on the charger, the Breeze can spend 12 minutes in the air – only half the flight time of the Typhoon drones, but enough to snap plenty of social media-ready shots.
The Yuneec Breeze is available as of this week for US$499, making it less than a third the price of the company's higher-end models, but significantly more than a selfie stick.
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