While not a splashy drone announcement, DJI isn’t leaving the CES crowd empty-handed. The company officially unveiled the DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic 2 or any drone equipped with OcuSync 2.0. It needs all the smarts it can muster with a $649 price tag. That’s steep for an integrated display and SkyTalk.

Yes, the displays are bright. Anyone who opted for the integrated display on the Phantom 4 can attest to that. But, you were only shelling out an extra $300 or so for the benefits. The DJI Smart Controller’s challenge will be is there enough added features to justify the price tag? On the enterprise front, the answer is yes. Most business customers will easily opt for a dedicated controller/display.

For the consumer drone market? That’s a tough one. The Mavic 2 was already dinged with a price increase.

DJI smart controller with a Mavic 2

DJI Smart Controller Features

The biggest is the integrated display. The 5.5-inch is bright at an output of 1000 cd/m2 or around twice the brightness of your standard smartphone. If you’ve ever flown via a tablet or smartphone, you know the perils of a sunny day.

Perfect flying weather, but damn the glare. The ability to leave your phone at home also has other benefits. Namely, you never have to worry about your iPhone deciding to ignore the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting. Yeah, been there before trying to drop a Phantom into a canyon and here comes a phone call.

DJI’s controller also features a customizable Android-powered dashboard. DJI GO 4 and DJI Pilot are supported, though it looks like the third-party apps referenced in the press release will be limited to social networks and editing programs. The DJI GO 4 app will have a new feature in SkyTalk, which will allow you to talk over your livestreams on Facebook and Instagram via the embedded microphone in the controller.

Battery life is rated at around 2.5 hours of flight time and operating temperatures range from a chilly -4 degrees Fahrenheit to over 100 degrees. One feature DJI is pushing in the marketing blitz is the ability to be up and flying faster than ever.

What about availability? Early 2019 is all DJI is saying on the release date, and we should expect some form of a combo involving the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom with the smart controller. Right now, the store is flashing $1899 for the Mavic 2 Pro with the smart controller. Ever closer to the $2000 mark. Downright Apple-ish.

Why is the $2000 mark significant? It could be what we are staring at for a Phantom 5 price target. The Mavic 2 Pro has wrestled the $1500 point from the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 which at this point should be taken off DJI’s store. It’s been out of stock for months now.

At $649, the DJI Smart Controller offers a nice set of features, but we were already close to $2000 once you add in the Fly More kit. Can an integrated bright screen and SkyTalk push the controller into the hands of the masses? It’ll be something to watch as we dive deeper into 2019.

Gear. TV. Movies. Lifestyle. Photography. Yeah, I’m the type who sees a shiny object and is immediately captivated. Wait... There’s another. You can reach me at marcus@newsledge.com

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