Look up in the sky, it’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a.. flying egg?
Quadcopters aren’t an uncommon sight in the skies, but most models follow the same design footprint—a squarish body with four struts to hold propellers, and a camera and landing gear attached to the undercarriage.
The PowerEgg, the first consumer drone from Chinese robotics company PowerVision to hit the US market, is different. Its body is shaped like an egg, and it’s not until the landing gear extends and you pull out each of the four propeller arms that it looks like something that can fly. Propellers are bolted onto the arms, so you don’t have to worry about attaching them before flight.
The unique design certainly sets it apart from the crowd. And it makes it pretty portable—you can throw the egg into a backpack more easily than you can a DJI Phantom 4. The camera sits at the bottom and, since there are no landing struts obscuring its view, it’s capable of spinning in any direction, in addition to the tilt capability that you get with standard 3-axis stabilized aerial video cameras.
In terms of flight capability, the PowerEgg is a very capable aircraft. It can fly as fast as 29mph, can operate at up to 13,123 feet above sea level—the FAA restricts drone flight to 400 feet above ground level—and it can fly for up to 23 minutes before the battery needs to be recharged.
The camera supports 4K UHD video capture at a 60Mbps bit rate—the same level of quality you get with a Phantom 4 or Phantom 3 Professional. The lens is a prime design, capturing footage with a field of view similar to a 22mm full-frame lens, and with a fixed f/2.8 aperture.
For 4K, only 30fps capture is available—the PowerEgg doesn’t support 24p at all—but you can push the frame rate to 120fps at 1080p and 240fps at 720p for slow-motion capture. Photos are captured at up to 13.8-megapixel resolution in JPG or Raw DNG format. Images and video are recorded to removable microSD memory.
The PowerEgg ships with two remote controls. There’s a traditional joystick-based remote that includes a clamp to attach a smartphone (to view the feed from the camera). It connects to a small ground station, which has the antennas necessary to communicate with the PowerEgg. A second handheld remote, dubbed the Maestro, is also included. It’s shaped a bit like a modern TV remote, and features a few control buttons and a thumbpad to control flight. It also works with the ground station to communicate with the drone.
More advanced pilots will likely opt for the traditional remote. It allows more precise control over movements, and has dual control wheels to adjust gimbal tilt and rotation. The Maestro is aimed at beginner pilots, and isn’t tuned for long-distance flight. The maximum operating range is about 3.1 miles, but real-world conditions often limit stated ranges.
A GPS stabilizes the PowerEgg in the air, and allows for automated return-to-home, as well as orbit, waypoint, follow, and selfie flight modes. When flying low to the ground, or indoors where no GPS is available, downward-facing sensors keep the drone steady.