Rain, Snow, Sleet or Shine... First Impressions of the Inspire 1

The weather has been grey and wet here in central Texas this week, and as much as I would love to write to you in detail about our extensive tests on the new DJI Inspire 1 and its badass little 4k camera, sadly today will not be that day.

The first production model to land in North America is here at our offices in Liberty Hill, and I eagerly tore into the cardboard box to show you all a hurried unboxing of the aircraft, and all the neat components she comes with. Being that it is our wet-season in this neck of the woods, I was only able to do a quick 5-minute maiden flight this afternoon… so my first impression will be a brief one until the skies part. So let’s do this!

The Inspire 1 is revolutionary… I really want you to take that in for a second. You’ll be blown away before you power on the aircraft. Just holding the transmitter(s) or lifting the vehicle into your hands will automatically generate a smile… the build-quality is amazing; attention to detail was a top priority with this new system. So was getting it right!

Our production model took some time to get here, and unlike a lot of people in the forums I am very happy about this. I would much rather have an aircraft already improved upon before I have to test it as though I were in a beta group. That being said, all connectors and screws are secure; very secure.
The protective cap that covers the gimbal mount on the aircraft is very difficult to remove. I want to call this a good thing, but I feel an instructional video may have to follow if this is not a one-off complication. Don’t experiment with this too far, as there are pins that mate with the gimbal that can be damaged if you try to twist the protective cap while attempting its removal. The trick is that you must perfectly set the securing mechanism to the unlock position, then pull straight down on the cap. This sounds really straight-forward, but it took some time to figure this out.

From there, everything was a breeze! The DJI Pilot App is as powerful and intuitive as it is elegant and clean. Every function of the aircraft from controls, calibrations, camera parameters, and even tutorials can be accessed very quickly. Spend some time with it and you’ll find that a lot of care was given to the end-user’s interaction with the aircraft. I’m still delving into DJI Pilot, so I will report back as I discover and begin to master all of the application’s capabilitie.

As the rain let-up, we ventured outside for her maiden flight. The aircraft chimed to life and quickly connected to both transmitters (as we received a dual-remote system for our demo model). As we did not perform the already available firmware update (I like to let those cook a while) there was a small amount of expected latency to our video feed, but it was not much and did not handicap us in any way.

After performing the traditional (though activated in the Application, now) compass calibration and pre-flight checks, we took to the sky. The modified A2 GPS receiver read 16 satellites during the entirety of the flight! Controls were very responsive, but were never extreme. It seems that DJI’s default gains and trims are pretty well configured.

The Inspire 1 flies a lot like a Phantom 2, but is marked by much higher performance… so there really are no surprises in-store for veteran DJI pilots… but there is one thing of interest: Flying in P-Mode (GPS with OPTI-flow) makes for incredibly stable stops. What I mean is that when you release the control sticks to hover, it’s very clear that the sensor registers the new position of the aircraft and will adjust ever so slightly to correct any overage to the last instructed lateral or vertical position. This is something really interesting to see first-hand.

I know, I know…. How about the camera quality?? While we did fly with the camera-gimbal attached, we focused on operation and not quality of imagery for our first flight. It’s really grey and nasty outside and our camera quickly became speckled with water droplets, so let’s save that review for another blog-post.

The gimbal operated flawlessly, though… so I am very happy to report that to you all. Yes, there is still a little bit of expected camera shake while the vehicle transforms, but so what. You don’t need to shoot your next movie while the vehicle is transitioning anyway.

Overall, this is just the beginning. There will be a better flight in the days to come and I will be eager to tear into the harder questions that we all have about this remarkable new machine. For now, all I can say is that I’m glad I pre-ordered my own!

As always, please drop me a line with any comments, questions and even suggestions for future blog post.

Thanks for reading,

Eric Davis
Technology Manager
email me

Joel J.
Joel J.