Autel X-Star Premium – The Flying Pumpkin
The Autel Robotics X-Star Premium is a high end drone capable of capturing 4K video. It is affectionately dubbed the “flying pumpkin” for its orange color. That orange color helps you spot that pumpkin when it is high up in the sky. You may think the orange color is the only real innovation on this drone, but we don’t think so. Read on to learn more.
You may wonder what the “non-premium” X-star is. The original X-Star was the first version of the drone that Autel isn’t really promoting anymore. Unlike the Premium, it did not come with a carrying case, it had half the range, and it came with a smaller memory card. Oh yeah, and it was missing the glossy orange finish that lets people know you are not flying a DJI Phantom.
Like the original, the X-Star Premium drone boasts a 12 MP camera for photos and will capture 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps. So you can capture slow motion video if you are willing to sacrifice a little resolution. The camera is mounted on an electronic 3-axis gimbal for the typical image stabilization and tilt compensation that we would expect from a drone in this class. The X-Star Premium has a top notch camera. Based on the camera specs, it’s closest popular competitor is the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. The camera specs at least are very similar, a direct image comparison is hard to find, but customers seem very happy with the X-Star. The one notable difference is Autel’s 108° full field of view which is larger than the Phantom 3’s 94°. Despite the very wide field of view, the feet and props seem to stay out of videos captured by the drone and there appears to be only very little fish-eye effect (barrel distortion). We suspect the X-Star’s low-slung camera and slightly wider legs help keep the image free of obstructions.
The X-Star stays safe and stable using both GPS and GLONASS systems. It also has a “Starpoint Positioning System” to give you peace of mind when the GPS signal is weak. Autel describes this system as using the camera and altimeter to provide some additional safety in the event of a lost GPS connection, but this seems to us like some clever marketing of features that are identical to the capabilities of other drones, like the Phantom 3. The X-Star has the flight modes you would expect in a high-end drone. It has Follow, Orbit, and Waypoints, as well as a Beginner Mode for the beginner pilot that includes geo-fencing.
The remote transmitter of the X-Star has a nice design and feels solid in your hands. We like the dead-simple approach of using 5 buttons on the front of the remote with symbols large enough for grandpa to read without reaching for the bifocals. It is an improvement to the cryptic toggle switches that DJI clung to in all of the Phantom 3 models before finally moving to slightly less cryptic buttons in the Phantom 4 and Mavic. The small built-in LCD screen displays important information. The remote will hold your smartphone or tablet which you can use to get a live 720 HD first person view from the camera. The free Starlink app will allow you to adjust camera and flight settings. You can even do a preflight check to make sure everything is safe prior to takeoff.
The X-Star Premium has a range of 1.2 miles and a flight time of up to 25 minutes. The flying pumpkin has a top speed of 35 mph and tips the scales at just over 3 pounds.
Autel Robotics is a top notch company with a solid vision and fantastic customer service. They even offer a $150 rebate if you buy their drone and pass the part 107 exam. That is the FAA’s “drone test.” We’ve taken and passed the drone test. You can read all about that here. Not only is Autel willing to help you out, the have a sense of humor. Check out their videos below.
The Autel Robotics X-Star Premium is a very good drone and a good buy. For another $100 you can invest in a better known quantity, the Phantom 3 Pro. This package comes with an extra battery but without the case that the X-Star comes with. If you are looking to save a little money and if you are willing to sacrifice range and 4K videography, the DJI Phantom Standard 3 is a good alternative that we can highly recommend. Check out our review of the Phantom 3 here.
|Check the price of the X-Star|
|Check the price of the X-Star bundle|
|Check the price of the Phantom 3 Standard|
|Check the price of the Phantom 3 Professional|
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