I remember years back on one of my annual trips to CES, a company called PowerVision was getting into the drone game. They had a conventional drone on the market, the Power Eye, but what caught my eye was the Power Egg. Here literally was an egg standing up vertical, that sprouted arms for propellers and legs for landing. If I recall, my first reaction was, “You’re kidding me, right?”
Now, several years later PowerVision has decreased the overall size of the egg and let it work horizontally, calling it the Power Egg X. I have to say, and this is no yolk, (sorry), this is one cool little bird! The question is, do you call this a drone first or a gimbaled camera? You see, this product easily converts to a palm-held gimbaled camera as well as a tripod mounted AI camera. And the options don’t stop there, you can also attach specially shaped Styrofoam floats to the landing gear, put on a clear plastic waterproof housing, and take off from a body of water. They say you can fly in the rain, and you can, but we’ll get to that later in the review.
If versatility were a big factor in one’s decision to buy a drone, Power Egg X wins hands down. Let’s start with the flying camera. Power Egg X begins and ends with the main egg shaped body. This palm sized body houses the removeable batteries, the motor, and the 3-axis gimbal/camera. The sensor size is 1/ 2.8, 12 mp photos, with choices of both jpeg, RAW and both. There are lots of choices on the video side, going all the way up to the holy grail of video choices, 4K/60 fps. Removing the top eggshell (sorry) reveals the contact points on either side, where the propeller landing gear fits to make electronic contact, and folds out for the quad propellers. Now our flying egg is ready to scramble! (sorry).
For such a compact little drone, Power Egg X packs a very nice bundle of features once you install the Vision+ 2 app on your smartphone. As with most drones in this price range, camera settings are given in both Auto and Manual. You have the freedom to tweak ISO, shutter speeds, EV and white balance as you would expect. The choices of video resolutions and frame rates are enough to satisfy most videographers. What’s really impressive are the number of autonomous flight modes available for this little guy! You have your old smart flight mode standbys like Follow, which zeros in on its subject and then proceeds to follow it at an appropriate speed, and Point of Interest, where you can fly atop a subject, lock it in, and then orbit around it, keeping the subject centered in your frame. There are the quick shots, called that because they do their thing once and then return to the point they started. Among the quick shots are Dronie, Rocket, Helix, and Ellipse. Basically what they do is lock on to a subject and do various flights keeping their subject in view. I tested all of them and they are quite fun to experiment with. While in Drone Mode, Vision+ 2 gives you a nice display on your phone with all the pertinent information at your fingertips. A cool feature shows you a moving angle of degrees as you manipulate the gimbal up and down from the controller.
While we’re talking about the Drone Mode, we can’t leave out the water options! The “Wizard” package adds Styrofoam landing gear for water landing and taking off, a water-tight clear water housing for the body, and an extra battery. Can you fly in the rain? Indeed you can, and I did test it here in Santa Clarita, CA on a rainy day. Just understand this: I know my readers here are image makers so I’m going to tell you flat out, you can’t create a good image in the rain. There is no rain “deflector”. The water housing will degrade the image and distort it a little. Water drops will drip down in front of the lens. So yes, put on some rain gear, go out and have fun flying in the pouring rain. Just fly for fun and within visual line of sight of the aircraft and if you record video, don’t expect quality images.
Now let’s remove the landing gear/propellers by removing the battery housing top shell and lifting the propeller arms off their contacts. With the camera facing forward, we’ll replace the left landing gear with the supplied tripod ¼”- 20 adapter and mount to a tripod. Now you have an “AI (which I assume will stand for Artificial Intelligence) tripod mounted gimbal camera. The Vision+ 2 app will adapt to this and give you a whole new type of display, designed to be hand-held for controlling the camera. PowerVision gives the user a convenient QR code sticker that you can see when you remove the top battery shell. Scan it right from the app to obtain a WiFi signal, and boom, there’s your picture. You have the same tweaking freedom as you did in Drone Mode to make any camera adjustments. Now you are controlling the camera completely from your phone as opposed to a controller. You have a virtual joystick to control the gimbal, you can switch between slow motion (120 fps), video, photo and time lapse. In time lapse, you have shutter interval choices of 1s/2s/5s/30s/60s intervals. You can also set your shooting duration in time lapse mode, from 30 seconds all the way to 1 hour. How’s that for options? Still need more? In Video mode, once you begin shooting video, the Vision+ 2 gives you the option to capture a still by giving you the extra small white shutter button. Note: the same batteries that give you up to 30 minutes of flight time in Drone mode give you up to 4 hours of recording time in tripod/palm-held mode.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell this quick story about a personal experience with the Power Egg X, and why it has become a favorite of mine to have around. During the course of this review I set out to test the water landing gear and watertight body housing of the aircraft. I found a large duck pond, part of a nice upper-class community not far from my residence. I installed the floaters and the waterproof housing and set out to land on the water. Power Egg X landed on the water, took off from the water, elevated up, came down…and then something happened. Probably pilot error, but the motors cut out and the drone flipped upside down and went in the drink. There it sat, upside down, props underwater for the most part. The duck pond had become a big bowl of egg drop soup (sorry). I could still see the blinking lights from within the water housing. It was far enough away that I would not be retrieving the aircraft any time soon. I thought, “Well, it was fun while it lasted.” For forty-five minutes Power Egg X drifted upside down and I thought that it was the end. I thought about the prop motors shorting and all kinds of things. I watched it drift until it was literally about 12 feet from where I was standing by the edge. An image I’ll not soon forget, several curious turtles popped up around the drone, and one of them actually helped push it closer to me! A local resident finally showed up with an extending pool pole, and the bird was finally out of the water. Amazingly, no water had gotten to the camera or gimbal despite condensation fogging up inside the housing. I replaced the battery with a fresh one and gave it a test. To my amazement, up it went as if nothing had happened! Before I knew it, I was recording a nice 4K/60 fps flyby reveal of the community as the sun was setting. Apparently, Power Egg X was not ready to throw in the towel!
The whole package, including the water floats and waterproof housing is going to cost you somewhere in the vicinity of $1250 depending on the source. That puts Power Egg X in the same company as many other drones in its class. Why would you choose it over the other tried and true brands out there? Well, consider this: How many of those other guys can land on water and take off from it? For the creative mind, this opens up a whole new world of opportunities. How many of those $1200 drones can you fly in the rain, even just for the novelty of it? How many drones in the $1200 range can you convert into a hand-held, gimbal-stabilized camera with a special smartphone app that converts just for that purpose? How many of those drones convert to a tripod mounted, gimbaled smart camera?
Do you see where I’m going with this? Hobbyist drone pilots out there will be looking for the most versatile product they can find for their hard-earned $1200. The Power Egg X is the quintessential do-it-all stabilized camera…and oh, by the way, it flies too!