Hover Camera Passport Review

It seems like everyday drones are gaining more and more features, they’re always evolving and improving. However, some manufacturers are beginning to build them with specific features that target a certain type of use – like FPV, racing, or filmmaking.

The ZeroZero Robotics Hover Camera Passport is a good example of this trend. Instead of being a drone that has all of the available features stuffed onto one aircraft, it focuses more on being the best at taking selfies and follow footage. We tested the Passport out for a few weeks to see how it compared to some of the other drones on the market.

FEATURES & SPECS

One of our favorite features is the ability to fold the drone for easy transportation. This is one of the most portable drones we’ve ever gotten our hands on. It was designed to be able to easily fit in a backpack or purse, so it’s always there when you need to take an epic selfie.

The drone also comes packed with a very nice camera. It shoots video in 4K, still images at 13 megapixels, and it even features a built-in flash – something we’ve never seen on a drone camera before. But what really makes the Passport stand out among the other portable drones is the image recognition software. It’s supported by a quad-core Snapdragon processor, which allows the aircraft to sense and track faces and bodies, while maintaining its position in space without using GPS.

 

 

You’ll also find some great autonomous flying and filming modes. It features the standard Follow and Orbit, a 360 Panorama feature that you activate simply by pushing a button, and Beast Mode, which turns off the software-imposed motor limitations allowing you to follow fast subjects.

BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN

The Hover Camera Passport definitely has one of the more innovative designs we’ve ever seen. It has the ability to be folded up like a book when not in use, hence the name Passport. The slim “spline” is responsible for housing all of the electronics, and the propellers under the spine swing out like pages of a book. When the drone is all closed up, it measures only 1.3 inches tall, and is about the same size as a VHS cassette. It also only weighs 0.53 pounds with the battery; therefore you won’t have to worry about registering with the FAA before taking flight.

Another big feature that we love is the Passport’s carbon fiber prop cages. They help to protect the propellers from run-ins with obstacles, which bring down the probability of a crash. We intentionally flew the aircraft into walls, but thanks to the cages, the rotors didn’t skip a beat, and it managed to return to a stable hover most of the time.

More importantly, the prop guard help to protect the pilot and bystanders from the spinning blades. You can even launch the drone from your hand or grab it out of the air when flying it. In our opinion, this makes the drone more approachable and gives it a friendlier feel. Since we don’t have to worry about injuring people or objects, you will feel comfortable flying the Passport in small tight spaces indoors. There’s definitely something to be said for the comfort and stress less feeling the prop cages provide.

FLIGHT PERFORMANCE, AUTONOMY, AND RANGE

While the Passport is fun to use, if you’re looking for high-performance flight, you may want to look elsewhere. It tops out at 17 MPH in manual mode, a max range of 65 feet, and doesn’t have a GPS. Therefore, it’s obvious that this drone isn’t as nimble or sporty as some of the higher-end drones available.

However, it was all done by design. We like to refer to the Passport as a flying camera robot – and its specifications and abilities reflect that. It was designed to be able to stay close to you and follow you wherever you go. Instead of having extremely responsive manual controls, its designed to fly itself so you don’t have to. The facial/body tracking software ensures you won’t even need to worry about what direction the camera is pointing. This thing was definitely developed toward autonomous flight, so if you want a drone that allows you to show off your pointing skills, you should look elsewhere.

While the Passport wasn’t really designed around flying it manually, there’s still an accompanying app that gives the pilot a good amount of controller layout options. You have the option to fly with two virtual joysticks of you’re familiar with traditional controls, use a simplified layout to get the camera in position, or turn on tilt mode and steer the drone by tilting your smartphone in any direction. The smartphone-based controls did seem slightly imprecise occasionally, but we still love the ability to change up the control options.

The autonomous modes is where this aircraft really shines. It does a 360 Panorama mode, which will cause the drone to perform a 360-degree spin and then put together a single panoramic image; as well as Orbit mode, which will make it fly in a circle around you no matter where you move.

The two modes that we are most impressed with are the two that utilize the image recognition software: Face Track and Body Track. To use these features all you need to do is tap on the face or body that you’d like to follow, and the aircraft will keep the subject in frame. The passport’s software isn’t as robust as DJI’s Active Track feature, but it’s very effective and gets the job done.

BATTERY LIFE & RECHARGE TIME

First, we tested the drone by allowing it to hover in one place and we found that it stayed in the air for about 11 minutes. When we flied it more aggressively, we got about 10 minutes of flight time. When we performed a test flight in on a breezy day in Beast Mode, we saw 8 minutes of flight time in our rigorous tests. Also, since it comes with two lithium ion batteries, you can get a total of around 16-20 minutes of total flight time. We found that when charging a fully depleted battery it took an average of about 45 minutes to reach a 100 percent charge.

CAMERA, ACCESSORIES, AND UPGRADABILITY

Remember that the Passport was designed to be a selfie camera, so the camera isn’t the latest and greatest when it comes to its capabilities. It can shoot in 4K, 1080p, or 720p, but it’s limited to 30 frames per second regardless of the resolution you’re using. There’s also no gimbal, and it relies on a single-axis swivel and digital stabilization to stabilize images. However, those two things working together produce nice video footage with little to no shakiness.

Although the camera does have some shortcomings, they are easily forgettable due to the many clever features that help utilize the camera’s usefulness. In addition to the face and body tracking software that will lock onto your subject, the camera also features a built-in flash, which makes it great for snapping images of groups and selfies.

There aren’t many accessories and upgrades available yet. The firmware seems to get upgrades frequently, and we’ve heard from ZeroZero Robotics that new abilities/modes will be added in the near future.

IS THERE A BETTER ALTERNATIVE?

The Yuneec Breeze is the closest competitor to the Passport. It has slightly better specifications in regards to image quality, battery life, and range. However, on the downside, it’s not as portable, lacks image recognition abilities, and it doesn’t have a flash. Therefore, we would definitely say that the Passport is the better choice if you’re interested in mostly taking selfies. The Breeze would be better suited for pilots who are planning to practice their flying skills or snap pictures of landscapes.

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

Definitely yes! As we mentioned before, if you’re planning on using the Hover Camera Passport to shoot videos and pictures of you and your friends, then this is a great option for you. The Passport isn’t the greatest option for anyone looking to perfect their flying skills. It’s an excellent selfie drone all the way through, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve found the best choice.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

DEVICE CAMERA BATTERY CHARGER
Folded Dimension: 182x132x33mm³ Sensor: 1/3.06" (CMOS); Effective pixels: 13M Capacity: 1360mAh Input Voltage: 11-20V
Weight: 242g (including battery) Lens: FOV 78.4°; 28mm (35mm format equivalent); f/2.0; Depth of focus: 1.2-6.7m Voltage: 7.6V Power: 36W
Max Service Ceiling Above Sea Level: 2000m (6562ft) ISO Range: 100-3200 Energy: 10.34Wh Output Voltage: 8.7V MAX
Operating Temperature: 5-35°C (41°F-95°F) Pitch Range: -90° to +30° Battery Type: LiPo 2S Output Current: 2.8A MAX
Wi-Fi Frequency Bands: 2.4GHz; 5GHz Image Max Size: 4208×3120 Weight: 71g Adapter Input: 100-240V~50/60Hz, 1.0A
Video Recording Modes: 4K: 3840×2160 at 30fps 1080P: 1920×1080 at 30fps 720P: 1280×720 at 30fps Operating Temperature: 5-40°C (41°F-104°F)
Photo/Video Format: JPEG/MP4
Storage Capacity: 32G (including system files)

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