Out of the box. In the world of reviewing stuff, it’s a phrase that gets kicked around a good amount. Generally, it’s alluding to how a product performs right out of the box.
In the innovation and tech space, the quick answer is “nothing works as it should directly out of the box.” There is a certain amount of charging, updating, and connecting that has to be done before things light up and go whoosh.
That being said, the EXO Blackhawk 2 Pro drone comes about as ready to fly as any drone we have tested. Out of the box, this is an impressive piece of innovation and tech that can get even a novice set up and ready to fly quickly.
We won’t get into the many, many FAA rules about flying a drone, but here is a video that gets into the details:
Now that you’re all caught up, here’s what makes the EXO Blackhawk 2 so special.
· Easy set up
· 48-megapixel camera
· 200 megabits per second video camera
· 35 minutes of flight time
· Obstacle avoidance
· 5-mile range
· EXO offers drones from beginners at $90 to experts at $900
Here’s What We Learned
EXO has obviously been doing their homework, watching, and learning from companies like DJI, and has created a line of drones that “have it all:” great cameras, obstacle avoidance, dozens of customizable options and “how to” videos that are easy to follow and learn from.
These are a top-of-the-line pro-sumer drones that are packed with setup options and a handful of intelligent flight modes to create everything from a flying time lapse to action packed “follow me mode,” where you can simply program to follow someone skiing, riding a bike, running, skateboarding, and on and on.
I am a drone nerd and have been flying them for almost a decade. I have tested dozens of different types from high-end cinematic drones to the kind you can terrorize your kids with indoors. The Blackhawk 2 Pro stands out amongst the rest from several perspectives, namely, how it flies, the interface with the pilot, and the experience.
It has a 1/1.3-inch sensor on its 4K camera, , and an impressive 10,000-meter range. Thanks to the sensor and quad-bayer-like technology, the camera is capable of taking solid and steady images. The full three-axis gimbal helps keep the Blackhawk 2 stable, even in moderate winds.
The Blackhawk 2 Pro is capable of 4K video at 30 fps with an impressive bitrate of up to 200 Mbps. The camera has a large f/1.85 aperture as well as HDR and night shooting modes.
It has level 8 wind resistance and can reach speeds of up to 35 mph and a flight time of up to 35 minutes. It even has a bottom spotlight to help add a little light when you’re shooting things at night.
CEO Charlie Canon started the company after becoming frustrated with the expensive but and frustrating issues that are commonplace with larger brands like DJI-losing connection, drones flying off, lack of customer support, and expense.
Exo Drones’ mission is to provide affordable, high-quality drones, trying to fill the gap in the drone market between inexpensive toys like and the more expensive offerings dominated by companies like DJI.
The Stress Test
Since I am a writer who gets stuff for free, my mission is always to see how much stress a product can take. With that in mind, after watching the two “how to” videos from EXO, we took it out to an open field (always a great idea when learning), and gave it to my 10-year old son, who has never flown a drone, to let him test it out.
After setting the landing location and the gimbals, he simply hit the take-off button and the drone was in the air. Since he is 10 and most likely won’t read this, I have to confess, I was standing at high alert waiting to yank the controls out of his hands just in case it flew off heading toward something or someone.
It never happened. Obstacle avoidance kept the EXO from hitting anything and the controls and interface with a smart phone was so smooth and glitchless he was able to fly for the life of the battery (about 35 minutes). After he got the hang of the basic forward, backward, and up and down, he was flying in patterns, spinning, turning and actively flying the EXO while taking videos and pictures. I am 100% confident in saying, I wouldn’t let him do that with my DJI Phantom 4.
One of the many things that impressed me was the numerous options based on how you want to use the drone, from being able to set your own aperture to different kinds of obstacle avoidance. Users can easily customize their flying experience to meet their needs.
The Blackhawk 2 Pro folds up and is easy to transport and carry, weighing in at three pounds. Beyond the “how to” videos, EXO also gives you the opportunity to take a free online class to help you learn more about the many features the drone offers.
Blackhawk 2 Pro is their high-end offering at about $850. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the whole drone thing, they also have an $89 drone, the Recon, that may not have as many bells and whistles but is equally as easy to learn and fly.
To date, we have both flown it over and around open fields, rivers, Lake Michigan, down the street and in circles around the dog and haven’t been able to break it — yet.
Flying a high-end drone can be nerve-wracking, out of the box, EXO has made the experience enjoyable and easy to do for old drone nerds like me and 10-year-old test pilots alike.