Drones are hefty to haul around, especially when all you’re trying to do is snap a selfie. A selfie stick is alright, but you’re really limiting yourself. What you ought to try is the Dobby drone from Zerotech. This portable quadcopter folds up, fits in your pocket, and captures photos and videos on the fly.
The drone market appears to be split. On the larger end of the spectrum, there are high-end, professional drones like the DJI Phantom 4 used for high-definition buttery smooth aerial shots. Contrary to the expensive ones are the toyish drones like the Parrot Minidrone, used for fun flying and nothing else. Dobby drone falls into the middle of the spectrum; it’s a small drone like the Minidrone but packs technology akin to the Phantom.
Dobby weighs less than half a pound, meaning you don’t have to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. Dobby folds up into the size of an iPhone 6. It does carry a camera, but due size constraints, there is no gimbal attached. Moreover, Dobby is designed for selfies and quick aerial shots when you’re on the go. It takes 13-megapixel photos as well as 4K video.
The drone sports a pearlesque plastic housing. There are four arms, each with their own rotor, that unfold. Dobby features a solid build quality but picks up smudges easily. On one side of the drone is a camera. The belly of Dobby houses a removable battery along with a small camera and ultrasonic sensor for positioning and stability. Again, there’s no gimbal, but the camera angle is adjustable depending on flying style. For example, a 45-degree camera angle for a zip-line selfie shot.
Dobby doesn’t carry the traditional joystick controller. A companion app (Android and iOS) handles the controls, and this brings both advantages and disadvantages. Connected via the drone’s Wi-Fi network, the “Do.Fun” app offers three different flying methods in a simple-to-use interface. Firstly, there are tap joysticks where you throttle the drone up, down, left, and right. Secondly, path control lets Dobby follow a path drawn within the app. Lastly, there’s tilt control where the sensors inside your phone control Dobby. For example, tilt your phone forwards and Dobby will fly forwards.
The controls are a bit sensitive, and Dobby does drift from the slightest gust of wind. Luckily, the handy GPS keeps Dobby from swaying too far from its initial position. Keep in mind that Dobby doesn’t house any on-board obstacle avoidance, so it’s best to keep the drone clear from trees, buildings, and people. Dobby can take-off and land with a single tap, either from the ground or your palm.
There are six different camera angles to choose from, and this allows for footage between 0 and 90 degrees to the ground. The camera shoots video in 4K, but due to digital image stabilization, the end result is actually 1080p. Footage is not Phantom smooth because Dobby lacks a mechanical gimbal, but for shots and videos posted to Instagram or Facebook, they’re acceptable.
Additional features like orbit, track, and selfie are included. Orbit mode will lock Dobby onto a subject and shoot a 360-degree clip around it. It doesn’t work 100% of the time but track mode will allow Dobby to follow and record a moving subject. Selfie mode shoots a 10-second video while climbing Dobby upwards at an angle.
Dobby boasts a tiny swappable battery. On a flight without recording any video, the 970-mAh battery provides juice for 9 minutes. When Dobby is recording video or tracking a moving subject, the battery lasts a meager 5 minutes. The battery will recharge in about 2 hours, so it’s not the best out there. Luckily, it’s small enough you can pack a few extras for a trip.
There are 16-gibabytes of internal storage. Photos and videos are stored on the Dobby and can be transferred to your phone via the app or USB cable. Dobby supposedly connects to your computer through USB, but we weren’t able to get this working. The app will connect to Dobby and download the saved footage in minutes, but it’s best to have your phone plugged in. It could take a while.
Built into the app are a few nifty features that you’d usually find in a higher-end drone like the DJI Mavic Pro. Dobby can, somewhat, track moving objects and record them. In our testing, we found the tracking to be very sensitive to distance and movement. If you’re too close or too far, Dobby loses track of you. Move very quickly and Dobby loses its sights. However, orbit and zip-line shots worked exceptionally well.
Dobby is an exceptional piece of tech for snapping quick aerial photos. The Do.Fun app is finicky and will sometimes disconnect Dobby from your phone. Video quality is jittery and low-resolution. The footage will suffice for a short clip shared via social media or text message, but if you’re looking to capture wide-angle smooth aerials with Dobby, forget it. Portability has its ups and downs with Dobby. The drone literally fits in your pocket but the battery life won’t go longer than 9 minutes.
Zerotech has the drone up for grabs at $350 on Amazon, making Dobby a more affordable camera drone with high-end features.
It's good for selfies.
Dobby isn't going to replace your standard, full-sized quadcopter. The portable camera drone is designed for quick selfies and adds that aerial angle that a regular selfie stick doesn't provide. Dobby is weak on battery life but makes up for its extreme portability. The cute drone fits in your pocket and costs less than most high-definition camera drones on the market.