Tapas, La Tomatina, soccer, along with some of the most gorgeous beaches kissing the Mediterranean sea - Spain is a beautiful place.
Why are we talking of Spain? Because the good folk at GoPro whisked us off to an island right next to Ibiza for a taste of their new fare. After all, no gain without Spain… okay, bad one. Let’s just get back to work and talk about their all-new product - the Karma.
The Karma drone is surprisingly small and fits into the Seeker backpack (wrist watch for scale). This new drone from GoPro is offered with a 3-axis image-stabilizer which you can pull off the drone and mount onto your bike, car, pet or helmet. When need be, you can even use it to get those beautiful cinematic handheld shots. Its game-style controller features a 2in, 720p integrated touch display, leaving your smartphone free to maybe listen to drone-appropriate music on. We'd suggest the Jaws theme if you're feeling particularly powerful.
Looks rather yum!
When unboxing the Karma from its backpack, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the way it’s built. The finish is fantastic and as you unhinge the propeller arms from their sleeping position, they click into flight mode position very satisfyingly, like they mean business. Similar to the shutting of a German sportscar door, with that soul-massaging aural note (hope you get it; we're not trying harder.) Fitting the propellers on is a 2-second procedure, sliding the battery in takes about one more second, - manoeuvres that are bound to make novices look like pros. GoPro pros. (Sorry.)
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it's just good Karma!
This thing is absolutely simple to get up and running, err, flying. Once you have attached the propellers and placed the drone where it won't slice into things, simply grab the Karma controller. No, it won’t let you undo all the horrible things you have done so far as a human being, but it will indeed ensure maximum delight as you fly the drone. Why are we so sure? Because we flew it. Why? Because we could. We have the drone controller in our hands and we aren’t afraid to use it.
When it comes down to flying the Karma drone, it is way easier than you’d imagine. Hand to my heart, it was the first time I’d ever flown a drone and I did a pretty decent job of it, considering that it didn't crash into birds or the lovely trees lining up the serene Spanish countryside. Proof presented in pics.
You can choose to fly the drone via the auto take-off mode or go full manual. We did the latter and the controller+drone combination felt nimbler than a gazelle being chased down by a hungry cat. It’s quick, this drone, reaching speeds of 56.3kmph or 15 metres per second. You can fly it upto a kilometre away and 4.5km towards direction clouds; just ensure you head back around the 20-minute mark - that's the battery life on offer (it takes an hour to fully charge the battery). Actually, you don’t need to worry about the drone crashing when it runs out of steam. You simply need to press the ‘return to home’ button on the controller and the drone will safely return to your pad.
The Karma drone has various modes you can take advantage of, including the Orbit, Cable Cam, Reveal and Dronie. There's no dedicated Follow-me mode here for you to run through trees ‘Stranger Things’ style though, but it doesn't hamper your fun. That gamepad style controller is quite enjoyable to use. It features a 720p screen and offers controls to manoeuvre the drone effortlessly. We did find it a tad difficult to view the screen in bright sunlight, but that should hopefully be fixed in the product that will hit the market.
Image / video quality
The Karma drone is compatible with the new GoPro Hero 5 Black, Session 5 and the Hero 4 Black+Silver. We used it with the new GoPro Hero 5 Black and it is a natural fit for the drone. The Hero 5 Black improves on a ton of things and the end result is some spectacular imagery. You can now even cancel the fish-eye effect by choosing the linear-view setting in the shooting mode. This helps in achieving wider aerial shots that look great on an HD screen. The 12MP sensor does a great job of handling exposure and offers crisp, colour-rich shots not only in daylight but even as the sun goes down. You can even shoot at 4K resolution @30fps. The inclusion of RAW and WDR modes lets you further tweak around with your shoot settings. Video stabilization is handled supremely well, allowing you to shoot professional cinema-like shots without a fuss (you do require some talent, though).
The Initial Verdict
The Karma will be available internationally on October 23, and we will update you soon enough with the Indian launch dates. You can choose to buy the drone without the GoPro camera for $799.99 (around ₹53,000). The Karma bundled with Hero 5 Black will settle you for $1099.99 (around ₹73,000). The Karma will also be bundled with Hero 5 Session for $999.99 (around ₹63,000) but that will happen only early next year.
Yes, we do agree that the Karma is on the pricier side, especially for a market like India. However, it does offer the power to get droning straight out of the box without you having to pull your hair out. Keep an eye out for a full review once the product launches here!