I have been flying the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium for over a month now. During that time, I have crashed, missed landings, made landings, taken beautiful videos over the top of a northern pine forest, and dealt with the nuances of a new product. Here are some of my thoughts so far.
- For the cost, this is a great and easy to fly mid-level drone.
- I have some concerns how it will compete in the long-term with DJI, especially with the ongoing lawsuit.
- I have not seen any 3rd party accessories or additional accessories from Autel. The top of my list includes sturdier propeller guards to keep them out of videos and photos on windy days, and a battery charging hub.
- The latest concern is with quality control. I upgraded the firmware to version 1.2.8 about 3-weeks ago and flew a bit and noticed a lot of drift when hovering, and it was really pronounced when nearing the landing zone. I visited the downloads recently checking to see if there was a new version, and now only 1.1.3 is available. There was no information on the site regarding the issues and I received no emails or notifications,. Only by contacting support did I find out that drifting was a known issues in the 1.2.8 release. I requested a list of other known issues and when they might be fixed, but received no response. Issues can and should be expected with new products, but support and communication are critical and will be the key difference when someone is deciding between 2, 3 or more options as the market becomes more flooded with drones in the price range.
While I am in the beginning stages of building a business around commercial drone operation, my experience so far is showing me that the Autel Robotics is not quite ready yet. I have been looking into adding a second drone, and was considering another Autel, but have decided on the DJI Phantom 4. The Autel is still a good drone, but would be better for learning and practice flights.
Once I get some flight time with the DJI I will post a more thorough and side-by-side review.