After having had a half a dozen or more “training drones” as I like to call them, I splurged and bought a top-of-the-line DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone. While it may not have all the tech of the new “4”, it’s definitely the hot-rod of the DJI drones with almost 2.5 pounds of lifting power.

The sheer power allows it to fly in winds that would sweep almost any other drone in existence to the next county tout-suite! My faster 60+ mph racing drones, in high wind or at higher altitudes, just don’t have the muscle like this thing. The gimbaled 4K camera is phenomenal in it’s stability in high winds, and truly remarkable image quality.  The stability, power, drone community support, available hardware hacks, camera quality and simplicity of flying easily make this the “#1” drone to own. So, no wonder it’s the world’s best selling drone brand.

The only real problem is the company itself. They impose so many mandatory updates and restrictions on where it can be flown that it’s mind-blowing. And heaven help you should you be mandated to do a firmware update … you could just as easily “brick it.” That’s the tech slang expression for turning a perfectly running piece of electronics into a doorstop with an update because the manufacturer has informed you of “safety issues or potential software bug squashing.” Imagine buying a new car that automatically slows down in traffic to a crawl because it thinks that’s what the infallible government wants. Well, that pretty much is what they do with all their drones in “restricted airspace.” Which by the way, is basically every city/town in the country with over a few thousand people. They limit the height it can fly. Literally, you are bombarded with quizzes, warnings, repeated popup messages and mandatory phone-texted “code” unlocking that will make the entire experience more than a little unpleasant. They’re so fearful of the feds they cripple the features that are so important to the owners. You get around 25 minutes of flying time, and it can take more time than that just to unlock it so you can fly. In all sincerity, if I did this for a living, I’d never use a DJI product as you can’t tell when it simply decides that it’s not your decision as to when/where you can fly. (Literally, they could mandate a firmware update that would disable every DJI drone in the country within a few days if the government wanted … perfect for dictatorships! … and oh by the way, as cars become more drone-like and are “connected”, they can all be shut off too). And after Obama imposed patently absurd rules on a couple of pounds of flying plastic that the courts later ruled illegal … and then Trump deciding to reinstate it, makes the water muddier about what exactly is going on with mandatory registration and flight restrictions. Because it’s clearly not safety, if you actually understand drones. People who don’t have the faintest clue about a piece of tech shouldn’t be allowed to make rules about its usage. You can’t “Make America Great Again” by crippling technology that is changing the information age. It’s a form of censorship hiding behind absurd and outdated government rules.

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