What’s the best drone for beginners that also shoots 4K video whose camera can be controlled by a VR headset? The answer is the Ghost Drone 2.0 from eHang.
I’ve been testing the Ghost Drone 2.0 for several weeks now and I’m pretty smitten with it. Right from the get go I was impressed with the packaging and unboxing experience and I’m get to be disappointed. That said, there are a few little quirks and some things you’ll need to know before making a purchasing decision, but overall I’m incredibly happy with this drone.
Setting Up the Ghost Drone 2.0 and Learning How to Fly
So first things first: setup (and before that, of course, you’ll want to make sure everything is charged up and ready to go, including the VR goggles). Setting up this drone is a matter of pairing: just jump on the WiFi network of the drone’s VR goggles and bind the drone to your phone. It truly is simple.
Next, you’ll need to learn how to fly the drone and this is something the app makes very easy (and why I call this a great drone for beginners). Instead of being thrown into the world of drone piloting cold turkey, the app walks you through some test flights and unlocks new control features and modes as you go making sure you completely understand how things work before turning you loose. I really enjoyed this process.
After you learn the ropes you’ll find that the app itself is very intuitive and easy to use. There are one tap functions for takeoff, landing, following and having the drone return to the place it took off. There are also some sliders for drone height and direction.
There are two modes of control for the Ghost Drone 2.0: normal mode and avatar mode. In the normal mode you use the on-screen joystick or directional pad (similar to what you’d see in many mobile video games for moving a character around). In avatar mode, you use your phone to control the drone: tilt in any direction and the drone will head that way.
I liked both modes a lot, but I’d say the avatar mode is best for open areas while the normal mode is perhaps a bit more precise (you know when you need to fly around some trees or something).
Control Your Drone Using VR Goggles
The VR goggles are something that help set this drone apart from alternatives. Basically, they let you see — in realtime — what the drone’s camera sees AND they let you control the angle of the camera by moving your head.
It’s a really cool concept that works pretty well, but isn’t perfect. If the drone gets too far away, the image in the goggles starts to degrade (like a fuzzy TV screen). Thankfully there’s a button the goggles that lets you channel surf to automatically try to find the best connection. Unfortunately, I found there were times where a clear picture wasn’t always possible. It’s not a huge deal, though, because you can still film even if there’s a little “snow”.
The goggles also have a built-in camera on the front so you don’t have to take them off in order to see what’s physically in front of you which is a really cool touch.
One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to charge both the goggles and the drone (which can easily be done at the same time using included accessories) before you can head out and fly or film.
One final note about the Goggles is that they could fit a bit better; they’re certainly usable, but perhaps not the most comfortable (though I suppose this will always depend on your nose and face shape).
A Fun Flying Experience
Flying the Ghost Drone 2.0 is really fun — even when you’re not filming.
I really enjoyed using the follow feature which does exactly what it sounds like: when enabled, the drone will follow you around automatically. I recommend using this mode only in open spaces as the drone isn’t able to sense objects around it (like the Phantom 4 for instance). And yes, it works.
You can also unlock a faster flying speed within the app. Doing so gives a safety warning, but… unlocking the “after burners” just makes flying this drone that much more fun. Again, if you’re flying around objects of any kind (people, buildings, trees, etc.) it might be a good idea to keep things in the default speed mode (the slower mode). Save the racing for those wide open parks and fields!
The Ghost Drone 2.0 has a solid range and goes further than I’d ever need it to. It gets plenty high and flies near to the ground well too.
Like any drone, the wind will catch it a bit and can move it around a foot or two in any direction if it’s strong enough — even while “stationary” so be cautious where you “park it”.
Some of my favorite flying experiences so far have been flying the drone over water (I got some great 4K footage of a dock and a shoreline) and I can’t wait to take it up into the mountains as well.
Awesome 4K Drone Video
The video shot on my Ghost Drone 2.0 is truly crispy. It’s smooth, the colors are saturated and bright and it’s more than usable for pro video production. This drone’s footage looks so good and I can’t think of a single complaint.
If you’re a PC user, transferring the 4K footage will be a breeze using the app. If you’re a Mac user, though, you’ll need to use a card reader to grab that 4K crispiness and put it on your computer — at the moment the app down samples video for Mac users otherwise. eHang told me they are working on bringing the full app functionality to Mac users soon, though.
A Few Final Notes and Thoughts
This drone is going to get battery life of about 20-25 minutes. At face value that seems pretty bad, but actually it’s right in line with most drones in this class. If you’re going to be doing a lot of flying or filming, I’d recommend picking up an extra battery (time flies when you’re flying this drone, which is a good thing, but the battery drains quicker than you’d realize).
The build quality is very solid on the Ghost Drone 2.0 with one small exception. The camera that hangs down below kind of dangles there until you turn the drone on — then it comes to life and snaps into position and straightens itself out. When the drone is off, I’d be very careful and conscious about where you’re setting it to make sure you don’t bump the camera because it feels a bit delicate. Everything else feels sturdy and solid.
Other than that, I’d just point out there a lot of attention has been paid to the design and experience of this drone. For instance, the box comes with two propellor colors: orange or black. It’s nice having a choice (and was very hard to pick between the two because they are both killer).
And I’m always discovering new thoughtful additions the eHang team included like suction cups on the feet of the drone (they don’t look like suction cups, being rectangular, but what do you know!).
Conclusion and Recommendation
I love this drone and I love flying it with the VR goggles. It’s a solid piece of equipment that takes incredible 4K videos and to top it all off it’s really easy to fly. It might be the best drone for beginners and for anyone interested in filming incredible aerial shots. Everything essentially works as advertised. If you’re on the fence about this drone, I’d say go for it — all I know is how much fun I’ve had with it.