Drones have really taken off (pun intended) in the past couple of years, though one of the challenges with jumping into the hobby is trepidation over the controls. We did not find that to be an issue with DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom, which we recently reviewed. Nevertheless, DJI announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) a new Smart Controller with a built-in display, to make flying easier.
“The Smart Controller features an ultra-bright display screen and controls optimized for DJI drones, allowing pilots to fly the newest drones without using a smartphone or tablet,” DJI says.
It features a 5.5-inch screen and a pair of detachable joysticks, plus a few buttons and doodads. We haven’t spent any hands-on time with it, but to the company’s credit, the Smart Controller does not look all that intimidating to us.
As for the display, it has a 1080p resolution and 1,000 nits brightness. According to DJI, it is visible even in direct sunlight, which is obviously important for something that will primarily be used outdoors, and ideally on a nice, sunny day. That said, it’s rated to operate in a range of temperatures, from a frigid -20C (-4F) to a toasty 40C (104F).
The Smart Controller works with DJI’s newest drones, including both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. It connects automatically and uses DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 video transmission system. According to DJI, it lasts 2.5 hours on a single charge.
It also features a customizable Android dashboard with support for DJI’s Go 4 app. Through the app, users can share their aerial photos and videos from the Smart Controller to a mobile device.
The caveat here is the price. DJI set the retail price for its Smart Controller at $649. Adding a drone costs extra.