Two questions. Is it possible for a drone to be a mini work of art? And could there be a way to make drone flying easier than it is now? This long-awaited new mini flying machine from Beijing’s PowerVision answers both those questions in the positive, and to boot was pretty much my favourite fun product of last year.
It is called the PowerEgg for the very good reason that, in its dormant form, it looks exactly like a smooth white egg. The mechanism by which the 27cm-high, 2.1kg PowerEgg whirrs and extends into an aircraft with four propellers and sturdy landing gear – a strangely dinosaur-esque as well as UFO-like vision – is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in electronics.
Every now and again a product comes along with a mechanical action that is enchanting even before the gadget has begun to do its job. One such was the opening mechanism of the first internet-enabled phone, 1999’s Nokia 7110. The PowerEgg has the same intriguing quality, but on a grander scale.
So why? Why would you want a drone that looks like a Tyrannosaurus rex’s egg? Why was the PowerEgg the first thing I put in my case for a pre-Christmas beach break in Queensland?
The answer is that the PowerEgg is much more than a gimmick. For one thing, it’s the perfect drone for a backpack – and a lot of the best flying is to be had in wild, remote places. I should point out that DJI’s Mavic Pro is also worth looking at as a backpack drone – it’s a little lighter, but the PowerEgg’s smooth retracted form is, for me, more convenient and, again, more a thing of aesthetic beauty.
Additionally, the PowerEgg has a new and unique flying method. It comes with a standard controller, but the additional, palm-sized Maestro device introduces gesture control. It’s almost like having a kite on an invisible string: sweep your hand left, right, up, down and the drone faithfully follows. It is almost balletic, although you may become self‑conscious, as I did when attempting to be balletic in front of several Australians on the beach.
Landing the PowerEgg is completely and gloriously automatic. If you’re lazy you can return it from anywhere with one button push or gesture. The 4K HD video and quality stills from the PowerEgg are as good as from other drones. And when you’re ready to move to another spot, you can simply unhatch the drone back into its egg form and move on.