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 above..it 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:
You are right about the USB cable, that really is a disappointment.
As for flying, I have never had problems. Even during the learning curve it was always safe and could fly slow, hover and move as directed. I did need to get use to camera angle but images, both stills and video, were satisfactory.
Kids can fly it.
I think it is good for what it is.
Thanks Steve for saving me $500. I to really like the design / size. It just sounds like it is several software versions from being ready for prime time.
I really think you started the thing up while covering with the proximity sensor and the positioning lens on the bottom of hovercam. This would automatically cause it to crash and dive thinking it should be over a finger less than 1cm away to hover. When you remove those fingers, it sees itself a meter off the floor without the landscape of your fingers to tell it where it is flying above.
My experience definitely not as bad, understanding fully well that this is not a flying drone in theMavic or GoPro catergory. I even call it a flying camera.
Nope, this thing is a NO GO IMO. All tests it was useless for what it is advertised for. I even gave it one more shot before packing it up, out in the park. Was erratic, and would not track me for more than 5 seconds. If I moved in super slow motion it would sort of track me, other than that it would lose me, and just take off either up or straight ahead. I felt as if it were a Beta product.
Order a Vantage Robotics Snap!
Spooky dangerous. Glad nothing got broken or hurt. Looks like a flying window vent fan.
Very, very negative, Steve. Or was it positive? Who guessed, constructive criticism has a very important place, after all.
Well that was almost fingers off instead of a hands on review.
But ok you tested it and that’s the way it is; in my younger days I did have toys from time to time that did not work so well, also planes that never did fly, but ok that never was a 500 dollar toy………
But thanks for the information anyway I think I will pass on this one.
Greetings and be careful out there ok………you need some fingers to press some buttons in the future tests I guess.