The DJI Avata drone review: Fly like a fighter pilot

With cinewhoop (smaller, nimble drones designed for capturing next level video) drones being all the rage, DJI dipped their toes in the water just last year with the FPV combo and has now upped the ante with the new DJI Avata. The Avata features beautiful FPV goggles and a one handed motion controlled joystick. So not only can you see like a fighter pilot, you can actually fly like one. Does the $1388.00 (USD) price justify the goods? Let’s find out.

My Avata kit came in a fully recyclable package that would make an Apple fanboy envious. Unboxing the Avata and its accessories is a pleasure. DJI separates the drone itself from the goggles into two boxes that are tightly contained in a branded outer shell that simply slides off to reveal the inner boxes.

Setting up the Avata is simple thanks to a series of short, guided videos at DJI’s Academy contained in the DJI Fly app. Despite being simple, the process is not short and requires a considerable amount of configuration and tweaking. My best advice is to walk through each of the videos and then perform the steps after you’ve watched them. The videos are very clear and concise and offer a much better experience than reading through a manual. Thankfully, this is the hardest step because flying the Avata couldn’t be easier! More on that later.

Since my Avata came with the Fly More bundle, I first charged all the drone batteries, the joystick and the external battery for the DJI goggles 2. After everything was charged, I began the process of pairing and configuring the goggles, linking the drone and pairing everything to the app. 

The new goggles 2 are beautiful and solid. I was able to get a brilliant image by adjusting the diopters using DJI’s setup guide. Even though I wear prescription glasses, I found the adjustments to work just fine without having to use prescription lenses which is an option with the goggles. If DJI added airplay, I could take these on a plane and watch movies!

The drone itself is very small (3.2 x 7.1 x 7.1 inches) and weighs only 14.3 ounces. After mounting the battery it looked as though the Avata’s only real job is to haul that giant battery around on its back, an impressive feat all on its own. But the Avata has another job that it does particularly well, capturing impressive stabilized, cinematic 4k video at 60 frames per second (or 2.7k at 120fps), thanks to its 1 1/7” censor and a 155 degree ultrawide Field of view (FOV).

Flying is glorious. The DJI goggles are immersive and very snappy. I am able to get a little over 15 minutes per battery charge and thanks to the fly more kit, I’m well stocked with full batteries for all the flying I want to do. There is absolutely no lag and I thoroughly enjoy myself every time I strap these on and go for a fly. The joystick controls are naturally intuitive and easily mastered for even first time fliers. Some more experienced drone pilots may find the joystick controls a little less responsive than the traditional controller. But I appreciated the natural learning curve of the Avata’s controls.

The Avata does not have a gimbal, so you will need to be aiming at what you are filming. But, the camera is able to get those beautiful top down shots just like my own personal Mavic Pro. One other point worth mentioning is that the Avata does not have crash prevention AI. So, keep that in mind when flying. The good news is though that with it’s prop guards and tough construction, it’s hard to damage this thing. If you do manage to break something, parts are very inexpensive and can be purchased through DJI’s website. Another great Avata feature is turtle mode. In the event of a crash that finds your drone upside down, activating this will right the drone and, provided nothing is broken you can be off and flying again.

One of the things I didn’t like about the goggles is their external battery. This is not a mark against DJI as including the battery in the goggles would just make them too heavy and cumbersome. Luckily, Amazon offers a Jim Henson style headband designed just for the DJI goggles with a nifty pocket for the battery.

There is not much I don’t like about Avata. But, one of the drawbacks is that it does not come with a case. Not even a foam box like my Mavic Pro! Thankfully Nanuk, a Canadian manufacturer of premium, military grade cases offers the beautiful Nanuk 915 case ($149 USD) Built with an NK-7 resin exterior and pre-cut with closed-cell high quality foam inside to house all of your Avata gear, this is an absolute must have. The case comes in a variety of colors, is waterproof, shockproof and guaranteed for life. As the owner of a few Pelican cases, I can tell you that this case feels better, has a very intense (overengineered) powerclaw locking mechanism and I’m pretty sure you could drop this out of an airplane without so much as a mark! Also, if you do have to fly commercial (wink), The Nanuk will pass airline check-in and fits all carry-on specifications.

A lot has been said recently about an issue that causes Avata to take a sudden nose dive and crash mid-flight. I reached out to DJI and was reassured that the company was aware of the issue and that a potential firmware update is forthcoming to rectify the problem. However, I did not experience this issue during any of my flights.

As a drone for content creators looking for something nimble to maneuver indoors or through tight spaces, Avata is a slam dunk. For traveling youtubers or vanlifers, it may be a lot to manage since Avata has a lot of accessories to keep charged. But with a case like Nanuk, everything is contained safe and dry.

Note: Our reviews are always 100% independent but Gearadical receives a small affiliate amount if you purchase the product on Amazon.