Review | Yuneec Typhoon H Pro: Intel RealSense Improves the Best Consumer Drone
Launching the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro for the very first time feels like an event. Travelling at up to 43 mph / 70 km/h in its Follow Me mode, getting this thing off the ground becomes a public spectacle, with its robust size and hyper-fast whirring blades drawing eyes to it wherever you decide to let it loose.
The Typhoon H Pro is essentially the Swiss Army knife of consumer drones. Equipped with most of the technology you see in its competitors and then some, this is a drone for the dedicated hobbyist, with its high price point (around $1,419 USD, £1,279 GBP) being a considerable barrier for entry, the Typhoon H Pro does a good job of swiftly justifying its price tag to the user.
There are three things that you want most out of a consumer drone: safety, reliability and enjoyment. Yuneec has sought to cover mostly all bases in each of these categories, leading to what could well be the very best drone on the market.
If you’re handling a $1,400 piece of flying machinery equipped with six rotating blades, you don’t want to be deemed a health and safety risk for those around you. Fortunately the Typhoon H Pro prioritizes safety, making it a breeze to handle in the air.
Unlike most consumer drones the Typhoon H Pro is a hexacopter, with Yuneec adding an extra two rotors onto the standard quadcopter to provide it with additional power and stability, They also ensure that if one blade experiences some technical difficulties mid-flight it can safely fly back to the pilot, with it only requiring five rotors to fly.
Then there’s its integrated Intel RealSense technology, which provides the drone with a virtual 3D model of its surroundings in order for it to more adequately detect any obstacles it comes across. The previous Typhoon H model was equipped with sonar technology that would make the drone stop if it detected an object in front of it, but RealSense provides collision detection with a wider field of view and the ability to maneuver around obstacles. Though it doesn’t provide the 360-degree coverage you might expect, in reality the Typhoon H Pro being able to safely dodge incoming objects in its path is incredibly useful for those making use of its Follow Me mode, allowing users to travel through more crowded areas while the drone ensures its own safety.
This RealSense technology will be more appealing to those looking to use their Typhoon H Pro while on the move, with the drone tracking the user by way of the small Wizard remote (also included with the Pro bundle). This makes the Typhoon H Pro ideal for those into activities such as cycling or quad biking, with it allowing them to record themselves on the go.
The Typhoon H Pro is surprisingly portable considering its size. Collapsing each of its rotors allows it to be easily slotted into the back of a car, while its retractable gear keeps it sturdy and upright while travelling. The Typhoon H Pro also comes equipped with a backpack to fit everything in, so you’ll be able to carry it around with you with minimal fuss.
As a result of living in a city I experienced some difficulties with finding a location to fly the Typhoon H, as its built-in GPS system flagged hazards such as main roads and nearby buildings, preventing it from lifting off in the process. Though this isn’t a fault with the drone itself, it’s worth noting that I found this system a little too strict at times — for instance, I planned to take it for a spin in a massive, empty park, before it refused to take off as a result of its proximity to the local airport. Though the drone wasn’t close enough to said airport for me to reasonably interfere with any planes before it ran out of juice, it still remained planted to the ground.
In the end I was forced to travel some distance in order to get it up in the air, which is a particular inconvenience considering its short 20-minute battery life (though the Pro comes equipped with a spare battery, which is fortunate considering they cost around $85 to purchase separately). Again, the drone isn’t exactly to blame for the strict safety measures enforced upon it, though it is still something to keep in mind if you also live in a major city.
In the air
The Typhoon H Pro comes equipped with a variety of modes to try out, each allowing the user to focus on filming with its 4K camera rather than manually controlling it. Alongside the aforementioned Follow Me mode there’s also Cable Cam, which sees the drone following a set path you’ve created, or Orbit mode, which sees the drone circling above you. Both of these are useful for those looking to record footage from a specific area, and with the camera’s 3-axis gimbal allowing it to rotate 360 degrees while flying, this is arguably the best drone on the market when it comes to letting the user capture those difficult aerial shots.
The camera can also be operated using a second controller in Team Mode, allowing one user to fly the drone while another dedicates their time to using the camera, making capturing footage mid-flight more manageable. When it comes to the quality of the camera itself, it can shoot 4K in 30 fps and 1080p in 60 fps, along with being able to take 12 megapixel still photos in a 115-degree field of view. Equipped with its flexible gimbal the Typhoon H Pro allows users to capture truly cinematic footage, and with enough practice it can pull off some dynamic shots.
All of this is controlled using the drone’s hefty ST16 personal ground station, a sizable and weighty device that may not exactly be the most ergonomic controller, but it’s certainly more extravagant than those paired with its competitors. From the Android-powered ground station you can view the telemetry data displayed on its 7-inch integrated screen, browse through its autonomous flight modes and display real-time footage from the Typhoon H Pro’s camera. It may be clunky to handle, but being able to adjust options such as white light exposure and shutter speed on the fly and viewing these changes live on its display is a great feature that makes the ST16 a drastic step up from other drone controllers.
The Typhoon H surpassed the DJI Phantom 4 as the consumer drone of choice upon its release, and the Typhoon H Pro makes useful improvements upon its predecessor wrapped in a bundle that includes an extra battery, a Wizard controller and a great backpack. If you’re a newcomer to drones then you’re not going to want to cut your teeth on the Typhoon H Pro given its high price point and relatively complex controls, but for those venturing into the higher end of the spectrum then you’ll struggle to find anything better. Its camera quality may not be as pristine as the Phantom 4’s given some minor white exposure issues, and its short battery life isn’t exactly ideal, but there is so much stuffed into the Typhoon H Pro that these quibbles are easy to overlook. This is the best premium drone on the market for hobbyists with the disposable income.
Disclosure: Drone provided by Yuneec.
Paul Tamburro is the UK, Tech and Gaming Editor for Crave. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.