GoPro is a camera company that made a drone. The Karma drone is first an accessory for GoPro cameras.
TechCrunch reviewed, on paper, the GoPro Karma looks like it’s going to compete with the DJI Mavic drone. They’re both packable drones with limited feature sets, designed with portability in mind. In reality, the Karma’s main competitor is the DJI Phantom.
But we think the Karma’s competitor is not the Phantom 3 or 4 but it is the Mavic Pro. Portability is what the Karma was developed for and it falls short when compared to the Mavic although it does have a much better camera with the Black. The Karma will be the go to for those deep in the GoPro ecosystem and for GoPro’s first shot at a drone it’s a home run, but let’s not minimize the impact of the Mavic, it is the standard everyone will now try to emulate.
It’s clear that the product bundle itself is one of the main differences between the GoPro Karma and its DJI rival. GoPro shares a single camera between both the drone and its gimbal grip, and wants you to buy it separately. You’ll need to supply a Hero4 Black or Silver, or the new Hero5 Session or Hero5 Black camera for use with your drone, bolstering GoPro’s camera sales in the process unless you already own one. But the drone ships with its gimbal grip as a free accessory, and realistically speaking, many target customers likely already own one or more GoPro cameras anyway.
Range is not an issue with the GoPro Karma. Its maximum flight distance is 3,000m, which in most cases is far enough for the pilot to lose sight of the drone, breaking one of the key FAA rules of piloting a drone of keeping the drone in visible range. However, many other drones available around the Karma’s price now have a range of 5,000 meters or farther.
The DJI Mavic has a claimed a maximum flying distance of 8 miles (13km). OcuSync long-range-transmission technology is capable of relaying a signal up to 4.3 miles line-of-sight while supporting 720p HD video (1080p HD transmission in short-range mode). Every time you fly, OcuSync scans a range of available frequencies to find and use the one with the least interference to give you more reliability and control, OcuSync transfers vital statistics of the Mavic to you in real time, and can also be used to download photos and videos at up to 40 Mbps while flying. It can be controlled using the DJI Go app over shorter ranges. If you to want to fly further the you can add a tiny remote controller which increases the range to a claimed 7km. The remote can link to a mobile device and view a live feed from the copter in 1080P.
On the whole, the GoPro Karma is a great drone. Think of it as a flying GoPro mount, though, instead of an autonomous aerial vehicle. It lacks collision detection and follow-me abilities — the latest features found on most drones in the Karma’s price point. And that’s a shame, too, as both are excellent additions to drone technology. Think of the Karma as one of the best drones from 2014, and maybe, for GoPro’s core audience, that’s fine.