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Apr 132017

CRASH N BURN – The Hover Passport Camera Review (Video)

Something different and something short today! A FLYING CAMERA review, or, well…a first… A Negative Review from me, Steve Huff! I usually only review items I love or like a lot. But this time, I had to write this and do the short video as this is a $500 product that works as good as a $80 product.

BUT Ahhh!!! Technology. I love it. When I first saw this Hover Camera I wanted it. For a year or two I have been looking for a small, VERY SMALL, drone to do follow shots for video projects. I have a large project coming up and needed something small, portable, simple. Something that was no muss and fuss. This appeared to be what I needed and even though the video quality is below average I figured it would be good for my needs, and at $500 it is not exactly cheap, so I assumed it would be rock solid and work well. (I have a Mavic Pro already but that is not designed for what I was wanting).

My video review in 5 Minutes


So here it is! The latest version of the HOVER PASSPORT FLYING CAMERA. I have been eyeballing this thing for a while now and yesterday it launched at all Apple Store locations, as they are to be the official retailer of this Hover Camera. The Hover has new firmware that added ‘Owner Mode” and when you take this guy out of the box you will marvel at the small, light beautiful device. Then you will wonder “Will this work good”?

This flying camera is one that has the ability (or so they say) to track and follow you (Owner mode). To give you a sky high camera angle while you do whatever it is you want to record yourself doing. No tripod, no camera..just push a button, twice..and let it go. The Hover will indeed hover in front of you and look for the owners face via its camera. It will find you, sometimes.

Fold it up and hook up via USB via a special USB cable to unload footage. (it does not take SD or even come with the special USB cable needed)

Now, when I opened up my Hover I dowloaded the latest firmware as I was instructed I needed to. Once that was done I registered my face following the instructions in the app and it then registered me as the OWNER of this Hover Camera. From this point on, Hover states you can just turn it on, let it go and it will follow you/track you. Since it tracks the face, you have to look at it for it to keep tracking you. But even that does not work as my Hover, over four attempts followed my face for a moment and then it would spin, and sometimes spin out of control and crash into my ceiling if indoors or go wild if outdoors.

First test in the house went bad (see video above). I then took it out in my backyard. After finding me, it tracked me for 10 seconds and flew over my pool and started lowering itself! I was able to get it before it took a dive but when I recharged the battery I took it out front where I had more space. After finding me and following my slow as molasses movement it turned around, and flew at its top speed across the street, low flying, and into my neighbors house.

That was it even though I did try to fly it with the app controls. It did OK with that but it is like a $80 drone toy in this mode. It’s wobbly, it is loud, the camera is average, there is no REAL stabilization like a gimbal and you can not even insert a memory card into it. To get your footage off you have to hook it up to your computer via a special USB cable that is not included (or use the app to wirelessly download your footage to your phone, but for me it never worked). The Hover comes with two batteries that should last you 10 minutes. My 1st one lasted 6 minutes and took about an hour to charge on the included dual charger. It does come with TWO batteries and a decent dual charger but overall this Hover Camera is a toy at best IMO. While the design is amazing, it does not do what it advertises that it does. It’s unstable, and in Owner Mode it just has a mind of its own. I just do not have time for this, and I consider my Hover experience 3 hours wasted from my life ; )

See the video says it all.

They advertise tracking, it should work. It does not.

They advertise 10 min battery life, truth is expect 6-7 – They need to get it to 15 usable at least IMO. 

It does not come with the USB cable needed to download 4K video from the device, and it is not a normal USB cable. I mean, this would cost Hover around $2 to add. 

No case, just a cloth bag to carry it in (which I liked actually, kept it small for travel)

The app is bare bones, and minimal. I mean MINIMAL.

No spare props are included. Just two batteries, charger and the Hover with cloth bag.

When I picked it up after its crash it was still going full speed on the ground and even when lifting it as they tell me to the blades did scrape my finger as the plastic guards bends when you pick it up. 

For $500 more one could buy a Mavic Pro which is 1000X the flying camera this is. One could go for a Go Pro Karma Drone, the new fixed version and get a Go Pro 5 for $600 more, Handheld gimbal, drone, remote with LCD screen and a backpack case! One could buy a parrot bebop 2 FPV kit with goggles and controller for $600, which is a better drone and experience all the way around. 

No, these three drones are nothing like the Hover (they are real drones) but they are so much better, so much more tech there and abilities. I feel the Hover would be OK at $99 or even $199. Let’s say $199. At $499 for me, it is a no go.

The good news is when it crashed into my neighbors house it did not break or even create any damage. This was good as I knew as soon as it did that it was going back, as it could have caused some issues. If a car was driving in my street at that moment? Iy would have flown right into the car, which could have caused an accident.

The Hover LOOKS cool, and it is a great concept but it seemed to me like a Beta product. Surprised Apple took this one on. Anyone else here have a HOVER? What do you think of the new Owner Mode? Did I get a lemon?

If you still have interest in this you can buy one at your local Apple Store or buy it from Apple online. I will try again when they release the Hover II ; ) 

If you want a real drone, I have tried and used the following and highly recommend any of them over this guy:

DJI Mavic Pro

DJI Phantom 4 Pro

GoPro Karma Drone

Parrot BeBop 2 FPV Kit



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