Does Blade Chroma possess the potential to help Horizon make a place for itself in the crowded camera-incorporated drone market? Does Chroma has it in itself to change things around? Let’s have a look!
Can Blade Chroma make things look simple?
Aerial photography solutions by Horizon Hobby and Blade have been getting a serious push by the manufacturers. Blade 350QX was launched in the market a couple of years ago and since then we have witnessed a couple of newer versions of the machine released on the market. With the advent Blade Chroma, we can see a deviation in Horizon’s natural path. It seems to have broken the change of conventions and is focusing on the production of consumer drones that are immensely easy to handle and manoeuvre.
The important question right now is whether Blade Chroma is an ideal machine that could take up the legacy created by Blade 350QX. Does Chroma possess the potential to help Horizon make a place for itself in the crowded camera-incorporated drone market? Does Chroma has it in itself to change things around? Let’s have a look!
Unpacking Blade Chroma from its original packaging is a rewarding experience. Once you open the primary box, every item is properly tagged and organized. You do not need to a lot of hard stuff to get the drone ready for a flight. You can view the first flight video by Horizon to get details. So, I’ll not try to discuss the initial details in this review. However, I will try to share with you the differences in experience that I had while flying this machine in contrast to that shown in the introductory video. The box that I got had the battery for the transmitter fitted into the radio.
In addition, the instructions that come with the Blade Chroma also tell the pilot to first adjust the compass before the first flight. Having said that, I did not calibrate the compass before the first flight and experienced no hiccups whatsoever. However, I would certainly not recommend you to do it my way. It is always judicious to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to enjoy a trouble-free and smooth flying experience.
The ST10+ transmitter is a new addition to the Blade series of products. You can generally find it with the Yuneec Typhoon 500-class quadcopter. This transmitter is a testimony to the collaboration between the two tech giants Horizon and Yuneec. At first glimpse, the transmitter appears more like a bulky and ugly piece of hardware. But once, you get your drone soaring in the skies, you will be definitely impressed by its simplicity and intuitiveness. It boasts a touch screen display powered by the Android operating system built for smartphones and tablets. In addition to the video feed, the Blade Chroma also broadcasts telemetry data to display screen. This makes it easier for the pilot to keep track of battery life, drone’s speed, how far the machine is from the pilot and the height attained by it. The device also transmits its latitude and longitude coordinates to the screen; though I wonder where this kind of data could be put into use.
A 5200mAh Li-Ion battery pack is featured in the transmitter that gets charged via a microUSB port located to the right hand side of the transmitter. The transmitter comes with a microUSB to USB wire that gets plugged into a standard USB port. I, however, made use of a USB adapter powered by AC mains to charge my drone. It does take its time to get charged but it does provide you sufficient battery life after being charged once properly. A full monitor suite is included in the transmitter’s programming that helps pilots ensure that all the controls are functioning properly. This certainly is a handy feature to have in your radio transmitter and one that I didn’t confess; I must confess
All of the switches, buttons, keys and dials are positioned at convenient locations and can be reached with comfort during flight. I was quite impressed by the rate dial which is marked with a turtle and a hare. It helps you make subtle changes in your rate as compared to a 2 or 3-position switch. The dial for the camera’s tilt control is positioned in just adjacent to the rate dial and is very user friendly. As a matter of fact, this transmitter is an epitome of simplicity as all the controls are labelled and positioned appropriately.
Brightness control is where I found ST10+ to be lacking. During your flight adventures on a bright sunny day, the screen becomes extremely hard to view. The included sun-shield functions decently but in case of a sunny day, even it has to yield since the display screen is way too much dim. I can view my iPhone’s display screen even in bright sunny conditions, so I believe there is no reason the manufacturers can improve this feature. I hope that the developers will look to improve on this feature through an Over the Air (OTA) update and provide brightness control options since this is an Android powered gizmo
As we discuss the display screen, I believe I should also discuss the camera and its video transmission ability (We’ll talk about the camera in detail later on in the review). The Blade Chroma website does not contain this information so I had to get into contact with the Horizon’s Brand Manager, Steve Petrotto, to get a few clarifications about their product. One of the things I was really interested in getting to know was the optimum video transmission range of the Blade Chroma. This is a feature that was found wanting in the Blade 350QX3 which had a range of just about 100 meters. So, with that old machine, you could not even think of controlling the video transmission at a fair distance away. Steve Petrotto reported that the developers were able to improve the range of CGO-2+ by six times; thereby providing a video transmission range of 600 meters which is equivalent to almost
6.3 American Football fields. This is much more than the entire height of the Empire State building. There is a lacuna, though! It is a WiFi oriented system and if you are using it in a WiFi crowded space, your video transmission range is bound to face a severe hurdle.
While using the Blade Chroma, I never had to go through a drop in the video signal. However, I did have to face severe lags in video streaming. For almost 95% of my flight duration, I enjoyed a seamless and trouble-free flight experience. When it comes to the video transmission, the Blade Chroma is a far better beast in contrast to the Blade 350QX3.
The Battery and Charger
This is the part where the internet community went into a frenzy when the Blade Chroma was introduced by the manufacturers. You should not pay heed to what the sceptics are talking about. The battery that comes with this beast is way better than the Blade 350QX3 and other typical quadcopters that make use of the standard components.
Generally, I’m someone who would always be ready to stand up and criticize any deficiencies in the original components. I always support the notion that other companies should be allowed to remain flexible, get acclimatized with the market demands and enhance the efficiency of their products. More often than not, it is the proprietary technology that serves as a hurdle in the path of innovation. In the case of Blade Chroma, however, the decision to include a proprietary battery is a pretty good one and stands vindicated. It was always a pain in the ass when trying to insert the battery into the already bulky Blade 350QX3.
To get rid of this issue, Blade Chroma lets users utilize the cartridge-style battery by simply aligning the rails, sliding the battery in and locking it in the required place. So, now if you want to switch between batteries, you only have to go through this is simple practice and all is done within a blink of an eye. As far as the aerial photographers or cinematographers are concerned, they can quite swiftly set their machine whizzing through the air by quickly replacing their battery. The proprietary battery is 5400 mAh 3S LiPo battery that is almost twice in capacity to the battery pack used in Blade 350QX3. The company claims that the battery pack provides a flight duration of about 30 minutes. We will test this claim pretty soon later in the review.
Here’s the catch though: only Horizon Hobby is mandated to build the battery pack compatible with the Blade Chroma and one of such batteries costs about $120. This is almost double the cost of the battery pack used in Blade 350QX3. Having said that, if I were an aerial photographer or videographer, I would always prefer to avoid minimum amount of downtime to ensure that my day does not go waste and I am able to capture the required images and videos in accordance with my requirements. This is exactly what one can achieve with the help of the Chroma battery and this why I would prefer the battery pack that comes along with the Blade Chroma to any other standard battery available in the market.
The charger, on the other hand, is nothing to talk home about as it is the same one that comes along with the Blade 350QX3. It is AC/DC and is capable of charging on the 3S LiPo battery at 3.5A. It performs a pretty satisfactory job but it is nothing outstanding. The fact that the battery is proprietary, might make you believe that it can only be charged with the help of the included charger. But this is not the truth. Horizon Hobby is releasing an adapter that can be used to charge the Blade Chroma’s battery on any standard LiPo Charger (BLH8624 for $10). The company claims that the battery can be charged at higher rate of current; thereby allowing faster charging times for those dronies who want to get back into the air as soon as possible. So, if you are planning to use your current charger or utilize a charger with multiple ports such as the Hitec X4 AC+ to charge multiple batteries simultaneously, the newly built adapter will make your life a lot easier.
What’s really impressive about the Blade Chroma in terms of the flying experience is the swiftness with which the Global Positioning System (GPS) locks in. The lock-in generally takes place in about 10 to 15 minutes which is far quicker than what I experienced with the Blade 350QX3. Having said that, here comes the disappointing part. The agility in the GPS lock-in is severely made far less tempting by the sluggish speed at which the camera and transmitter synchronize with each other. This might not be that big a deal for those not interested in aerial photography. But why would you purchase the Blade Chroma if you are not looking to use it for aerial photography? This is quite comfortably the biggest issue I have with Blade Chrome in terms of the time taken in the flight setup. The transmission from the camera takes almost eternity and believe me it is quite frustrating.
Once the camera gets connected to the transmitter, it’s time to set your drone whizzing through the air. The red colored button placed in the upper left corner of the radio controller can be used to start or stop the propellers, which simultaneously locks in the GPS home position and compass heading. If you have been a passionate devotee of the Blade 350QX series, you will be excited to know that similar to the 350QX, you can also arm the Blade Chroma by pushing both the sticks on the controller into their inner-most bottom positions. As my personal preference, I use both the available options alternatively but I’m quite impressed with the provision of the red button that lets you stop the blades from spinning after landing.
I never really made an attempt to check out the maximum control range of the Blade Chroma. But it definitely is a lot higher than my line of sight and I can easily manoeuvre it from that range. According the the statistics that I was able to obtain via the transmitter’s telemetry, I achieved the greatest distance of about 1,000 feet and the greatest altitude of 350 feet during my flight. If we use some trigonometry here and employ the Pythagorean theorem, that drone got away from me up to 1,060 feet. At such a large distance, without the live video streaming from the camera, it is not possible to determine the exact orientation of the Chroma and hence would become seemingly impossible to manoeuvre to the device safely. So, the control range is far more than that required for a safe flight adventure and is quite easily within the ambit of the law.
A lot has been said and written about Blade Chroma’s enhanced battery lifespan in contrast with the Blade 350QX3 AP. The manufacturers have put the battery life of 30 minutes in writing on the Blade Chroma’s packaging. I would certainly not like to be the one who shatters your hopes away, but such a long flight duration is not a reality in the case of this device. I took the machine out for trial rides for about five times and since this was not a scientific experiment being carried out in controlled environment, each time the conditions happened to be different from the others. I tried to mix up my flights; on some occasions, I tried to simply hover my drone over a certain location while on the other occasions, I really gave my drone a good throttle. During all the flights, I had the camera connected to the Blade Chroma as I doubt anyone of you will fly this magnificent drone without the camera. All my flights were carried on until a warning was issued by the transmitter that the drone was running out of battery juice. Once I got the intimation, I brought the device down and landed manually. I kept the timer going until the propellers stopped spinning.
The figures that turned out were quite disappointing to say the least. The Blade Chroma provided an average flight duration of about 20 minutes and 26 seconds which is way below the claimed flight duration by the company. It is evident from the flight duration table for all the flights that the maximum or minimum deviation in flight duration was just about 1 minute and 34 seconds. I believe that our trial rides presented a good overview into the overall flight capabilities of Blade Chroma in terms of battery life in spite of the fact that weather conditions during some of the flights were windy. This is also true that most of the tests were carried out during extremely windy conditions with wind speeds between 15 and 20 mph, I am of the view that this certainly did not compromise the accuracy of our test results. If you compare the figures obtained during the first and third tests, you would see that the timings are almost identical despite contrasting weather conditions. The Blade Chroma is certainly a great enhancement to the Blade 350QX3 series but as far as the battery life is concerned, it happened to disappoint us.
I was so deeply bereaved by the results that I got through my tests that I contacted Horizon Hobby to get their point of view regarding how they came up with the 30 minute flight duration mark. I told them the approach that I employed during my personal tests and enquired of them their strategy. They argued that factors such as wind, altitudes and other variations have an effect on the flight duration and they were adamant that they got flight duration of 30 minutes during their own tests. Actually, they did not want to get embroiled in any sort of information exchange. In my tests, I had already made a provision for the wind factor as I am sure that wind alone cannot alter the flight duration by as much as one-third of its magnitude. As far as the altitude is concerned, I do not have that under my control. What really irks me up is their claim of about 30 minutes of flight duration without any substantial data support. I certainly am not the only one to be carrying out such tests and getting question marks with regard to the claimed flight duration. So, ultimately, they will have to concede and do something to improve the flight duration. But this delay or their reluctance in accepting the fact that there is something wrong with their battery life claims, could end up having a negative influence on their consumer base.
However, the Blade Chroma is still a way better proposition in opposition to the Blade 350QX3 machine and the flight duration of 20 minutes is still far more than that professed or offered by other competitors in the market. I wish that my tests produced results more in correlation to the the claims made by the manufacturers but that is exactly why we review products.
Mid-air, the Blade Chroma presents a flying experience similar to that provided by any other quadcopter of the same calibre. The flight is steady, the GPS does well to keep the device in the required orientation despite strong winds and the machine is quite easy to manoeuvre. The flight does not offer anything really unique or out of the box. What really makes this device a good buy is the different modes of flight that one can opt for. So, let’s have a look at them one by one!
If you are flying a drone for the first time or are new to flying drones, then the smart mode is the one you should go for. It provides a diverse range of tools that assist a novice dronie get acquainted with the skill of flying. The first one of these unique tools is the SAFE circle that is a sort of an invisible barrier that is created around the drone by virtue of its inbuilt GPS system. The center of the circle is about 15 feet behind the drone which implies that its diameter is just about 30 feet. You need to keep yourself within this circle of safety and the drone won’t fly towards you or even threaten any of the bystanders in the vicinity.
Another great feature in the SMART mode is the Stick Relativity technology that makes it extremely simple for drone pilots to comprehend the controls. Generally, when the drone is oriented away from the pilot, when the stick is moved towards left, the drone veers towards left as well. Got it? Now, when that drone is rotate the other way round with the drone oriented towards the pilot, the controls tend to get reversed. Now, when you will move the stick to the left, the drone moves to the right. With the help of Stick Relativity technology, the pilot does not have to care about the orientation of the quadcopter as he is the primary focus of the entire scheme of things with regard to controls. As long as the pilot remains within the SAFE circle, the controls remain in their default configuration.
For those of you who are veterans in flying quadcopters or have spend sufficient amount of time while flying the Blade Chroma in the SMART mode, the next stop is the AP mode. This is the typical configuration in which the drone or quadcopter works in the conventional manner and hence it is a difficult mode to master. However, you can exercise a lot of authority and control over your machine using this mode. The rates become higher and the bank limiting gets reduced which provides more thrust, throttle and control.
Moreover, you won’t find the SAFE circle and Stick Relativity technologies in this mode. So, you can change your position as a pilot while flying this machine. I believe that if you are a professional photographer or cinematographer, you will definitely prefer the AP mode because of the leverage it can give you to ply your trade.
With SAFE circle and Stick Relativity technologies working no more in this mode, auto-levelling, GPS position hold and altitude hold are still provided in this mode. So, even if you let go of the sticks, the Blade Chroma will enter a steady hover. Hence, even this mode incorporates quite a lot of safety measures.
Follow Me/Tracking Mode
The Blade 350QX3 features both the SMART mode and AP mode. However, the Follow Me and Tracking modes are the unique features of the Blade Chroma only. Just to make things simpler for you, the Follow Me and Tracking modes work as if they are mobile variations of the SMART mode. The controls provided in these modes are relative; thereby meaning that moving the right stick left and rights results in rotating the quadcopter around the ST10+ transmitter at a distance that is determined by pushing the right stick forward and backward. The height can also be controlled with the help of the throttle stick. As a pilot moves around, the Chroma follows suit and keeps the him at the center of all activity.
With the help of the Follow Me feature, the pilots can control the pan of their drone via the left stick; more or less in the same way you would use normally. So, the gist of it all is that the Follow Me mode is as close as you can get to using the mobile SMART mode. This is a feature that takes the Blade Chroma ahead of all its competitors. I was never really sure that I would fall in love with it but I was quite pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be a magnificent feature for all the newbies out there who never really cared about flying a drone but always wanted to capture those unforgettable moments in their lives. You can quite comfortably get a basic tracking shot simply even if you jump into a golf cart or even chase a car like in a Hollywood flick by asking the Blade Chroma to follow you around. Obviously, the pilot should never ever try to drive the vehicle while flying the device; that could be catastrophic.
This feature, I presume, is much less useful. This is probably only useful when a pilot hops into a vehicle and wishes the device to take tracking shots. It is a decent feature, nevertheless, for taking selfies. I believe that the age of taking selfies is over and we should move on from that era. All you folks out there! I beg of you to stop taking selfies!
If you want to fly your machine in any of the above mentioned modes, you will be required to select them before you arm your motors. It is not possible to trigger them on mid-air! One other thing: once you choose any of these modes, you lose the SMART mode and you will need to deselect any of these to get the SMART mode activated again. Mind you, deselection also has to be carried out at the ground station before arming the motors. However, you are allowed to trigger the AP mode on and off while in the Follow Me or Tracking modes so that you are able to gain full control over your device even midair.
Now the point I am going to discuss with you seems quite complicated to be described in writing. But let me make a try here: Just consider the SMART mode position on the Flight Mode Switch as a location where you can either go with the SMART mode or the Follow Me/Tracking modes. You cannot use both the options simultaneously. So, when you have the Follow Me or Tracking modes activated, the Flight Mode Switch will let you toggle between the Follow Me and Tracking Modes only and the SMART mode will remain deactivated. Once you revert back to normal flight configuration, you can get the SMART mode option on the Flight Mode switch. This is a much more simpler thing to learn one to one. So, we would suggest you to visit your nearby hobby shop and try and get a personal demonstration of the Blade Chroma to learn this concept and understand it well.
Return to Base
The Return to Base feature is the final mode that we are going to discuss in this review. If you have been able to fly a few drones in the past, then you must be familiar with this feature. The Blade Chroma makes use of its GPS location at the time of takeoff as its base location. You just have to flip a switch and the machine gets back to the exact same location and lands on the ground automatically.
The Return to Base feature in Blade Chroma works well but as was the case in the Blade 350QX series, the precision with which it lands at the point of takeoff is not that overwhelming. During our tests, the device even landed as far away as 6 feet from its point of takeoff. This might not appear to be an issue if your flying zone is wide and open but when it comes to crowded and compact places, it could well turn out to be an issue. For example, while flying your drone from a boat in the middle of a lake, you would obviously want your device to land in the boat rather than several feet away from the point of takeoff in the water. That would not be helpful in terms of your financial investment. Won’t it?
The Return to Base feature tends to function just a bit differently when the Follow Me and Tracking modes have been switched on. It does not take its home location coordinates from the GPS. Rather, it stays relative to the ST10+ transmitter. With the help of this feature, the Blade Chroma does not end up landing way back from the pilot to the point of its takeoff while you took a long walk with it.
The drone has been designed to enter the Return to Base mode when the connection between the device and the transmitter breaks down. But since we did not want to risk our investment of $1,100, so we dared not try this feature out.
All of the modes discussed above should be an integral part of any drone. But what good would they be if the camera integrated into the device turns out to be piece of crap? The drone is for aerial photography after all, ain’t it? However, the manufacturers have made sure that we do not end up in such a precarious situation. The camera is as good as the CGO-2 from the Blade 350QX3 and is equipped with an added feature that tends to remove fish-eye distortion that has been plaguing a lot of modern day cameras. With the CGO-2+, the horizon is a flat, horizontal line; which is exactly how it should actually be!
You can view the above images and see for yourself that the camera is a pretty decent one. I hope that none of you would like to compare it with the high end DSLR cameras, but the CGO-2+ camera is a 16 megapixel beast itself. The images are bright, crisp and boast plenty of detail. All the images are captured in the JPEG format so there would be a few photographers who might not be happy with the absence of an uncompressed format option. However, most of you will be satisfied with the image quality and its format since the images are similar to the ones captured by modern day smartphone devices.
Obviously, where the Blade Chroma camera gets ahead of the smartphones is with its ability to capture shots from an entirely different perspective. I am in love with the deserted playground slides images which would never have been possible without an aerial platform to capture the image. Like most of the novice photographers out there, I took plenty of aerial images and only kept the ones that I really loved. Also, I tried to edit them using my Photoshop skills by just adjusting and modifying their contrast, brightness and other filter options. Having said that, other than the black and white images, that changed immensely due to my editing, I did not have to edit the captured images a lot. I had to apply a few simple filters for contrast, color and saturation options and the images were ready to be displayed and saved for future reference.
Videography is the main reason Blade Chroma is such fun and I had plenty of it while capturing the aerial video footage of our traditional product. The video quality delivered by this machine is quite a good one considering that it is an action camera. Professional videographers might prefer a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses but that would obviously result in more financial investment. As a matter of fact, a decent DSLR camera alone costs way more than the whole Blade Chroma put together along with its accessories. The video captured with the CGO-2+ camera is crisp and bright and the color saturation is far better than that obtained from the CGO-2. The video captured from the camera did not need to be edited in my point of view. I was quite satisfied with the result. I did, however, tweak the contrast of the video a bit but other than that I preferred it to remain the same. I believe the video quality is quite amazing to say the least.
The video streaming being displayed on the transmitter was a tremendous help in framing the shots that I wanted. I really like the wide sweeping shots since they are just adorable and let you capture all what you are hoping for. They are overwhelming and stunning. The terrific lens flare in the video was a great addition to the video which added more vigor to it.
Whether you are using your Blade Chroma to capture a common family get-together or recording something more subtle, the drone has covered virtually everything. I was quite happy that the video captured was quite stunning and had plenty of fun while adding up all the video footages together. The Blade Chroma appears to be a brilliant tool for professional aerial videography. So, whether you are a veteran or a novice, I am sure that you will have plenty of fun capturing videos with this beast.
GPS Waypoints: MIA
We all must agree that Horizon Hobby have done wonderfully well to introduce a tremendous amount of enhancements to Blade Chroma. However, there is still one feature missing in this awesome device: GPS waypoints. Most of the competitors drones especially the DJI Phantom series and the upcoming Hubsan X4 include this feature but Blade Chroma lacks it; although this is only a minor one. Farmers and other landowners who want drones to patrol their vast swathes of land, would prefer the GPS waypoints feature. For such users, the Blade Chroma might not be the one to go for but for all other ones out there, Blade Chroma looks like to be a pretty cool fit equipped with a state of the art camera. The device does not include any obstacle avoidance technology so in case a tree or some building gets in the way of your device during flight, it is likely to crash right into it without veering to the right or to the left. In cities with all those power lines, traffic lights and cell towers, GPS waypoints will only be an attractive feature for a few people and not everyone out there.
Having said that, the fact that the manufacturers admitted that the device had the potential to be integrated with the GPS waypoints and yet they did not include it, it makes absolutely no sense to me. All that is required to kick start the waypoints feature is a firmware update release by the developers and the waypoints feature will be activated on your device. So, far no explanation has been issued by Horizon till yet with regard to why was the GPS waypoints feature not included in the device at the outset and how long will they take to release the firmware update and if they are willing to release it as well. Overall, the Blade Chroma is a fantastic device and the absence of the GPS waypoints feature should not be considered as a huge shortcoming in this magnificent device which is pretty cool even without it.
With all this extensive discussion under our belt, here is the important question: Does Blade Chroma really make things look simple?
I am of the view that it does make it easier but the term easy is quite relative here since it all boils down to individual users and their personal preferences. In my point of view, the Blade Chroma does not really boast one single thing that could make it go far ahead of the rest of the pack. As a matter of fact, the real strength of this device lies in the small attributes, that taken individually might not be that much attractive, but together they blend together to produce a package that is simply irresistible. The enhanced battery design and flight duration, the seamless way to attach landing skids, the huge video streaming range, the flawless camera; all these features build up a camera drone that is no less than $300 lesser in price as compared to its counterparts equipped with the similar range of features.
- Massive video streaming range
- Enhanced battery lifespan
- Improved battery design
- Easy to repair and maintain
- Prolific camera
- Extraordinary customer support
- Flight duration shorter than claimed by the manufacturers
- Absence of GPS waypoints feature
- Expensive battery
- Costly body parts and accessories
The Blade 350QX3 is still available on the market but the Blade Chroma is a far better choice in every sense of the word. The improvements made in this device are appreciable and were much needed. If you do not have much money up your sleeves, then perhaps you might for the older Blade 350QX3. But other than that, I do not find any reason to buy the older version in comparison to the Blade Chroma.
It’s quite safe to say that the Blade Chroma does have the potential to make things look a lot easier and certainly is the one to bag. I am quite hopeful about the future of the Blade Chroma series and expect that the GPS waypoints feature will soon be added to it since that would make it way more competitive in the industry. I am also optimistic that the manufacturers will come up with something to enhance the battery lifespan issues that I highlighted in my review. I really believe that the Blade Chroma is by far the best choice out there for all those novice pilots looking to upgrade to a fully-equipped consumer-level drone.
Horizon Hobby are known for their antics in the world of drones where they are considered one of the market leaders and their knack for coming up regularly with new innovations. Recently, the manufacturer reduced the price of their flagship Blade 350 QX3 drone to lure more pilots towards purchasing this line of products. Now, the tech giant has come up with a new series drones known as Blade Chroma.
Loaded with remarkable specifications and a camera that can shoot 4K UHD video footage, 1080 videos and images, the Blade Chroma seems ready made to compete against the mighty DJI Phantom 3 and 3DR Solo drones.
As is agreed by most of the analysts, experts and users, the latest release from Blade is essentially the 350 QX4. With its inclusion in a different line of drones, it seems as if the heralded 350 QX series has come to its end. In this post, we are going to have a look at the specifications and features that made the Blade Chroma a raging fire amongst consumers.
Despite the limited sources of information that we have, we can expect this drone to be a super duper hit amongst pilots from all over the world who are looking to capture amazing aerial videos and images. From the news that we are currently getting, it seems likely that the Blade Chroma is definitely going to put the cat amongst the pigeons once it is introduced.
- Dimensions: 9.50 in (242mm); 15.7 in (400mm) motor to motor distance
- Weight: 45.9 oz (1.3 kg)
- Battery: 11.1V 3S 5400mAh Li-Po
- Camera: Depending on the unit, the drone may come equipped with a CGO3 4K Camera, a CGO2+ 1080p Camera, a 3-axis Gimbal for GoPro, or a fixed GoPro mount.
- Flight Time: 30 minutes
The Blade Chroma is quite close even if not right up there when it comes to competing for the position of the best photography drone. The manufacturers claim that you get all the requisite paraphernalia included in the same box.
The quadcopter is available in four models. Two of the variants come bundled together with all the required gear for getting the machine out of the box and send it whizzing through the sky while capturing stunning aerial imagery. The other two variants are suitable for those who want to get their hands on a gadget that can utilize their GoPro action camera.
The package includes the ready to fly Blade Chroma, an ST-10+ radio controller with touchscreen display, a 5,400mAh LiPo battery, a charger and a USB programmer cable. The models without the camera offer an option for a three axis gimbal or a fixed mount for the camera.
Sufficient information is not available about the battery performance of this beast except the fact that it comes with an 11.1V 3S 5400mAh LiPo battery. If the drone succeeds in delivering a flight time that is even close to what is being claimed by the manufacturers, 30 minutes, then it would certainly be right up there at the top amongst the very best.
Nevertheless, a flight time lesser than 30 minutes would still be pardonable since most drones of this size typically offer a flight time in the range of 20 minutes or so.
From what we know so far, majority of the drone reviews this year believe that Blade Chroma tends to have a mysterious resemblance with the Phantom 3 amongst large sized machines especially when it comes to design and build. However, the white exterior does not distinguish it from the other devices out there.
In terms of stability, reliability and performance, we will have to wait until the drone hits the shelves to get a close peek at the device.
When it comes to the Blade Chroma loaded with an integrated camera, you can choose between the one equipped with a CGO3 stabilized 4K camera or the CGO2+ stabilized 1080p camera.
Videos are captured at 4K UHD and a frame rate of 30fps with the CGO3 camera along with 1080p videos which are shot at 120fps. The presence of the no-distortion lens means that you can capture 16MP images even with low to moderate gusts. This model includes a three axis brushless gimbal and a 5.8GHz video link for a seamless First person view experience. You will also get access to adjustable configurations for various lighting conditions.
Video footages are captured at 1080p and a frame rate of 60 frames per second while images are captured at 16MP using the CGO2+ camera. It is essentially the same device as the CGO3 camera but without the 4K capability and light configurations.
Five flight modes are being claimed by the manufacturer including Smart, Aerial Photography (AP), Follow Me, Tracking and Return to Home.
The smart mode is suitable for newbies while the AP mode is ideal for seasoned professionals. The Follow Me mode lets you capture that elusive shot while the drone follows you around wherever you go. The drone follows the person holding the radio controller with the camera focused at him in the Tracking mode while the Return to Home feature provides protection against adversities; thereby enabling the drone to come back to its original point of takeoff.
ST10+ transmitter is required for the Follow Me and Tracking modes to work and they are not supported by the Spektrum transmitter.
The Blade Chroma along with its flight modes and other embellishments could spell doom for its sister series, the 350QX. The QX3 series has provided the company a way into the sports quadcopter world. If there is no upgrade for Stability and Agility modes in Chroma, then the QX series may be able to survive. Others are venturing into the AP drone niche with relatively slow yet extra stable devices. If the Blade can take advantage of this trend, then the Chroma will have plenty of opportunity to make it big in the best photography drone realm.
The Wrap Up
With all the expected features, remarkable specifications and a plethora of positive reviews by experts about Blade Chroma, it is not a surprise that we are hoping big. We are optimistic that the Blade Chroma will be able to live up to its hype. If it is able to do so, then their drone can certainly give the DJI Phantom 3 a run for its money along with other competitors in the market. Even if it fails to do so, it may still be able to do enough to land a spot in the top 10 best photography drones list.