Parrot Announces the ANAFI
Things are 'looking up' for Parrot
By Jonathan Jacobs
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In today’s online environment, leaks are so common that it seems as though no device is announced without all its secrets being previously divulged. Somehow, French drone maker, Parrot has managed to keep the wraps on its latest creation. Back in April, we published that French drone maker, Parrot had stirred from its slumber and was teasing something new to come in early June.
Citing extremely low margins in the consumer segment, the company laid off a third of its employees (or about 290) back in January 2017 and signaled they would simplify their product lineup and accelerate growth within the commercial drone market.
True to their word, last year the company released the agriculture focused, Disco-Pro AG as well as the Beebop Pro Thermal and Pro 3D models.
While the Beebop airframe itself is consumer grade, the upgraded thermal camera (on the Thermal) and the included Pix4d license (on the 3D model) clearly positioned these aircraft in the commercial/industrial market despite their modest price tags.
In spite of Parrots new commercial focused direction, many speculated that they would announce the Beebop 3, the long awaited successor to the Beebop 2 (released in December 2015) and the slightly upgraded Beebop 2 Power (released in September of 2017.)
This theory was supported by Parrot’s own Q1 financial report where they stated the following regarding their 2018 Outlook.
While the Beebop 3 did not make an appearance today, Parrot held true to its commitment by introducing a totally new generation of consumer drone, the ANAFI. The name, taken from a Greek Island, translates to ‘revelation’; and this aircraft certainly earns the title.
This aircraft combines a compact form factor with some unique features that could easily make it a strong competitor to DJI’s Mavic series.
The ANAFI checks most of the boxes that you would expect from a small drone in 2018; compact, foldable form factor, 25 minute flight time, dual band control (2.4 and 5.8GHz), and AI based flight modes. However, the standout feature for the ANAFI has to be the camera. In addition to being able to shoot 4K HDR videos with its 21MP Sony sensor, the ANAFI camera can actually rotate 180° down and up meaning you can easily capture photos and videos from underneath your subject; something that is virtually impossible to do with current consumer drones. The camera is also capable of 2x ‘lossless’ zoom which is accomplished by cropping the image from the sensor. While not true ‘optical’ zoom, Parrot promises that the zoom method they use is equally impressive. While we haven’t had a chance to test it that much, the early results we have seen are encouraging.
In order to accomplish the 180° rotation, the gimbal is only capable of 2 axis mechanical stabilization. The aircraft uses electronic stabilization tech developed from it’s Beebop series to stabilize the third axis. While this had me concerned at first, the result is actually pretty good and I was impressed with the video it was putting out.
Portability is a keystone of the ANAFI’s design and is built into the entire experience. Aside from the compact size, the ANAFI uses a USB-C charging system that allows you to charge the aircraft without removing the battery. You can now charge your drone from a power-bank or your computer, something you can’t do with a Mavic.
Standard preprogrammed CineShot types such as ‘dronie’, ‘Reveal’, ‘Rise’, and ‘Follow Me’ are included which is to be expected in a drone of this class. Parrot did go a step further to include a dolly zoom effect mode which is something not yet seen on a drone.
Is It Enough?
The ANAFI has a funny name but serves as a compelling offering in the small drone category. It’s got a great sensor, some great features, and at $699, it is $100 less than the similarly equipped Mavic Air. However, that lower cost does necessitate cutting corners in other places. Most notably, the elimination of the collision avoidance sensors that make the Mavic Air so easy to fly. That alone could make the ANAFI a non-starter for inexperienced drone pilots who have grown to rely on the additional sensors to keep their aircraft safe.
However, if you’re confident in your piloting abilities and yearn to shoot some footage from below, the ANAFI is absolutely worth picking up when it goes on sale, July 1st. If you just can’t wait, you can preorder the ANAFI from Parrot, starting today.
We will be doing a full review on the ANAFI; what would you like to know about Parrot’s newest aircraft? Let us know in the comments below