"I have been looking at the Phantom 2 Vision+ and the new Inspire 1. I am new to drones and am not sure which one to get?" This is a question we have received multiple times from several of our customers. Both of these platforms shoot incredible HD Video and take great still photos. Both have GPS autopilots and waypoint capabilities, and both have live video downlinks to let you frame your shot. However the Inspire 1 is $3399 (dual controller) while the Phantom 2 Vision+ is only $1299. So why is the Inspire 1 almost three times the price?
There are a few key differences between these two machines...
RANGE: There is almost no comparison between the two machines in terms of range. The Phantom 2 Vision+ is rated at around 700 meters while the Inspire 1 is rated for more than double this range at 2km. However, there is an app available for iOS devices (Android support reportedly coming soon) that claims to boost the range of your Phantom significantly (simply called "FPV Booster for Vision+"). This app reportedly boosts your WiFi signal and uses a simplified algorithm to extended the reach of your device to well over 1km. There have been reports of people using this app to boost their Phantom's range to 2km easily. This app is not officially supported by DJI and we can not comment on it's effectiveness as we have not yet tested it.
CAMERA/GIMBAL: Although the Phantom has a great little camera that shoots 1080p video, it cannot hold a candle to the 4K camera on the Inspire 1. 4K has almost four times the resolution of 1080p, so images are much sharper and have much higher detail. That being said, you will want to make sure your computer or TV actually supports 4K resolution (4K requires much higher processing power than 1080p, and many systems do not yet support this resolution). Also, if most of your work is geared towards web delivery only, this may or may not be a deciding factor for you when it comes to making a purchasing decision.
The gimbal (camera stabilizer) is another big difference between the two systems. Although both have 3 axis gimbals, the one on the Phantom 2 Vision+ stabilizes in 3 axis, and only allows for tilt control, while the gimbal on the Inspire 1 can also be rotated 360 degrees by a seperate operator for more dynamic shots. The retractable landing gear on the Inspire 1 allows unrestricted panning, ensuring you never have landing gear in your shot.
Another small difference between the two gimbal systems is that both the Phantom and the Inspire can tilt down to 90 degrees, but the Inspire 1 also allows an extra 30 degrees of upward movement, so you can still have a level shot in fast forward flight.
And lastly, the field of view is quite a bit different on the Phantom vs the Inspire 1. The Phantom 1 captures a 140 degree wide field of view in front of the lens, while the Inspire 1 captures 90 degrees. Although many people prefer to have a wider field of view, the narrower field of view on the Inspire 1 combined with a different lens allows for almost no distortion in your shots, especially when tilting your camera down during video (no more curved horizons!)
BATTERY LIFE: Here the Phantom 2 Vision+ wins hands down. The Phantom 2 Vision+ is rated at 25 minutes of flight with its 3S Lipo battery, while the Inspire 1 is rated for 18 minutes with it's 6S powerplant. The main reason for the difference in flight time is obviously the weight of the two quadcopters. Although lighter is better for flight times, the added weight of the Inspire 1 allows for greater stability in higher winds.
GPS PERFORMANCE: Both the Phantom and the Vision have rock solid GPS performance, even in windy or gusty conditions. The problem with GPS is that it does not work when indoors, as the GPS receiver should have direct line of sight to the satellites it references. Many customers like to fly their Phantom indoors on windy days, however indoors the GPS hold function of the Phantom will no longer work and you will be able to fly in Attitude mode only. The Inspire 1 fixes this problem by using a new technology called Optical Flow. Optical flow uses a group of downward facing sensors that monitor the surface below at approximately 50 times per second in conjunction with ultrasonic waves (similar to sonar). This allows for incredibly precise positioning even when no GPS is available. Although it is limited to 5 meters above the ground, this will be sufficient for most indoor flying.
CONTROLLERS: The Inspire 1 controllers have built in 6000mah lithium batteries for extra long run times and a built in Lightbridge HD digital downlink that transmits 720p video from the Inspire to an iPad or similar device mounted on your controller. The Phantom 2 also has a video downlink using an iPhone or Android phone which clips onto your transmitter. The Phantom 2 Vision+ only allows a max of 640x480 resolution downlink however, which is OK for many operations, but a noticeable step down in quality from the 720p downlink of the Inspire 1. Both have groundstation apps which allow waypoint flying.
So which one should you get? We often recommend the Phantom 2 Vision+ to first time flyers. It is a much smaller package and much less intimidating to fly for new pilots. The Inspire 1 (shipping end of December, early January 2015), is a brand new platform and as such will be in high demand and difficult to purchase the first few months of 2015. If you decide you need the additional features of the Inspire 1 and want to purchase one after flying your Phantom for some time, the market for the Phantom is huge, and you should have no problem selling a lightly used Phantom on sites like Kijiji or Craigslist with very little loss on initial investment. We sometimes post our shop demo units on Kijiji or in our "Scratch & Dent" section for a few hundred under MSRP and have always sold them within a week.
Thank you for reading this post, please email us with any other questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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