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139 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for performance and 1 star for Setup. Getting through the firmware update and Setup was difficult, but all is well.
Published 6 months ago by David Gorley

versus
31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Return home my rear end!
UPDATE: Well I DID love this drone and really loved the so called GPS return home feature except it DID NOT WORK! After owning this drone only a couple of weeks we were flying it this afternoon to take some arial shots and before I knew it I was helplessly watching my beloved Phantom fly away! Nothing I did brought it back. We searched for hours looking for it till 10pm...
Published 3 months ago by Larry Roberts


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139 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for performance and 1 star for Setup. Getting through the firmware update and Setup was difficult, but all is well., January 22, 2014
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Length:: 1:45 Mins

Another update: After owning my Phantom FC40 for over 3 weeks, today I experienced what can only be described as a fly away. I've owned my Phantom long enough to know it and to fully understand how it works and how to maintain it. Despite routine IMU and compass calibrations and ALWAYS waiting for green lights, I experienced a fly away with my Phantom FC40. In fact I'd performed a compass calibration earlier in the day after returning from a trip. I was flying in a large hay field behind my home. I've flown in this field nearly everyday since owning the FC40. I've never experienced any issues like this until today. I was flying at approx. 100-150 feet when suddenly the Phantom began to free fall. Despite pushing the throttle all the way up I could not maintain any altitude. Moments before impact the Phantom seemed to respond but still slammed very hard into the ground. At this point I assumed the phantom would power off, but it did not. Without any input at that time the Phantom quickly flew upward and to the right of my position. It was flying quickly as I frantically tried to regain control. There were moments when I seemed to have partial control, but the Phantom would not respond long enough for me to land it. After a minute or so I did regain control by switching off the controller and setting it to Atti mode and I landed the Phantom. A close inspection revealed that the landing gear is bent beyond repair. I bent the landing gear back into place. Performed an IMU calibration and compass calibration and took the Phantom out for a test run. It seems to fly ok, but I do need new props and landing gear. I did manage to reach DJI and they agreed that this was not user error and have issued and RMA for repairs. DJI seems to be upping their game in customer support and this it great news.

This is an update. After owning my Phantom FC40 for almost 2 weeks it has begun to develop some problems. The battery door is not very secure and on one occasion when the Phantom was flying backwards the battery slid out and disconnected from the Phantom. The battery and the Phantom both fell to the ground. Luckily the Phantom was about 15 feet in the air and the fall did not cause any damage. On another occasion the battery slid out and I was able to land the Phantom. Also the camera mount is not very secure. On more than one occasion the battery mount door will come open and the camera will fall from the Phantom. This happened once when I was landing the Phantom and it was only a few feet from the ground. The second time it happened it fell from about $150 feet and I never found it. I have made two complaints with DJI and they have yet to respond. I'm actually concerned flying the Phantom until the battery door issue is fixed and the battery mount is secured better. I'd hate to have the battery fall out at a high altitude.

The video is a short clip of a 12 minute flight I took around our farm. The on board camera takes pictures and live video at a higher resolution, but I lowered the quality so that Amazon would accept the clip for this review. The FC40 camera does produce better result than this video clip shows.

I'm giving this quad 5 stars although setup deserves less than a star. Updating the firmware and setting it up is confusing and time consuming to understand. Once you move beyond those steps everything else is a breeze including calibrating the compass.

If you are like me and this is your first high tech RC Flyer, I suggest reading everything you can about setup before it arrives. DJI recommends updating the firmware before first use and if you've never done it before, it's confusing. You Tube is your friend and there are a few well made videos which will help you through the process. Don't bother calling DJI. They don't answer their phone. I called several times only to be greeted with a recording and the voice mail in box was full so I couldn't leave a message. Totally useless solution in my opinion.

Having worked through all that I'm pleased with my purchase. It's a dream to fly. It's so stable and easy to control. It's very responsive and smart! It stays where you put it (within tolerances) in GPS mode and this is the mode I've been using it in. I'm mostly interested in flying around and I don't care so much for stunts so it's perfect for me. It does have an attitude mode where it will behave more like any other quadcopter (drifting) and while it does not have the same stability as GPS mode it's still very easy to fly.

The camera that is included is easy to setup, no problem at all. It works with Android devices and iOS devices. I use an older HTC EVO 3D when I'm flying and after I'm finished flying I connect the camera to my 10" iPad to few the photos and videos. You can also connect the camera directly to your computer via the included USB cable to copy the hires video to your computer for editing. A note about using it with iOS devices. You must select the FC40 camera as your WIFI network under settings before it will work. With android devices you can select the camera within the app so it's a bit simpler in my opinion with android devices. Also before you can use the camera you'll need a micro SD memory card before you can use it, not included. It supports up to 64GB memory cards, I am using a 16GB card that I had on hand.

One more thing, the FC40 has a tendency to tilt over when landing especially if it is auto landing after signal loss. If it does happen to tilt over the props on the tilt side will rev up trying to stabilize the quad. If this happens your props will grind into whatever surface you are landing on. For this reason I suggest keeping extra sets of props on hand or catching the quad by hand as it makes it's approach for landing. The FC40 does include 1 extra set of props, but I suggest having more on hand. Unfortunately my local hobby store does not have these on hand and yours may not either. It's sad to be grounded waiting for new props.

ALL E RC answered the Phone every time I called and they are very knowledgeable. Shipping was fast and I won't hesitate to order from them again.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, fun, aerial platform for photo or fun, March 10, 2014
By 
forkm "forkm" (Anchorage, Alaska USA) - See all my reviews
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After owning a Parrot ARDrone 2.0 for the last year, I wanted something with more range, capacity, power, and ability to use other cameras. The Parrot is a very fun, really easy to use quadcoptor for indoor and limited outdoor use, but it leaves a lot to be desired. After doing a lot of research, I decided a DJI Phantom was a good choice for a ready to fly, easy to use, stable camera platform. I used the ARDrone for some aerial footage for work, I really wanted a better camera.
I was a bit worried about all the all the reports of problems with the Phantom, especially the fly-aways, but ordered one anyway. The Phantom arrived (from intelligentUAS) very fast, and with everything it was supposed to. The FC40 camera was in a separate box from the Phantom, but in the same shipment. Assembly was easy, I only had to install the props, and attach the landing skids. While charging the battery, I downloaded the drivers and software for the GPS and NAZA flight controller. Pay attention to the instructions for the installation of the driver and software. I installed them in the wrong order and spent an hour sorting out the connection problems. Once I followed the instructions, setup was fairly simple. The most recent firmware was already installed, so not much was required.
After calibrating the compass, I took the Phantom outside, plugged in the battery, turned on the control, disregarded the flashing LED's, and took off......right into the side of my truck, spinning the props into the tires, the ground, and everything in the immediate vicinity. I paid attention to the instructions this time, including calibrating the compass outside, and waited for the appropriate LED's. The Phantom behaved wonderfully. Setting up the FC40 camera was very easy, and worked exactly as was supposed to.
I've had the Phantom for a month now, and have flown it every day. I learn to fly it better every time I fly it. I admit I crashed it a couple of time the first week, and a lot of that was getting used to the controls after flying the ARDrone (some of the controls are reversed). The FC40 camera is a pretty good camera, and with a 100 meter range, it's great for FPV flying. I've mounted a few other cameras with mixed results, but the Phantom performs great. The 5.8 Ghz controller doesn't interfere with surrounding WiFi signals. I mounted a Sony Action Cam, and the WiFi link with the camera doesn't cause any problems, either.
This is a very powerful, versatile platform that can be used in many configurations. I've used this for work taking aerial videos and photos of construction sites and projects, and everyone loves it. I bought a second battery, and will order a couple of more soon. With the lightweight FC40 camera, I am getting 8 to 10 minutes per battery. In windy conditions, and with a heavier camera, 6 to 8 minutes is about all I'm comfortably getting. I've only had the Phantom try to land itself due to low battery once, but I try to pay attention to the LED's. I did invest in the prop guards, and I'm very glad I did. I've clipped a few branches, and bounced off the side of a house or two, with no ill effects. I also ordered taller, wider landing skids to accommodate the anti-jello mount I installed, for using cameras other than the FC40 camera.
The Phantom is fun, impressive, and quite frankly the coolest "toy" I've ever owned. DJI seems to have come a long way in solving fly-away issues, though a lot of those seem to be user error anyway. I thoroughly enjoy flying the Phantom. I haven't experienced the problems that some have had, and haven't damaged the Phantom, so I'm pretty positive about the experience so for. I may upgrade to a larger, more powerful multi-rotor in the future, but I doubt I will find one that is so well integrated and put together. There is also a very large community of Phantom users out there, so if you have a problem, chances are, someone else out there has also had it, and can offer some insight.
For a beginner getting started with aerial photography, to just plain fun flying, you won't regret getting a Phantom.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome UAV, February 10, 2014
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Before I purchased this drone I looked at YouTube videos for several days trying to find out which one I wanted. That being said, I choose this one because of the included camera, I was afraid that I would crash it and destroy both the drone and my GoPro. By the way I have crashed it numerous times in the first week of flying, the first crash was into a tree. Needless to say the drone has a few scuff marks on it but no real damage.

The first MUST have is the propeller guards, at $15, they will save both damage to the propellers and the drone. Second get more batteries and an extra charger, as of now I have 3 batteries with the fourth one and the extra charger on the way. Third watch the videos. Fourth WATCH THE VIDEOS!!!! There are not many videos on the FC40 but the ones for the Phantom and Phantom 2 will help.

The GPS flight control is awesome and makes learning to fly the drone so easy. I have not taken it out of GPS so I can not comment on ATTI mode for now.

Connecting to the computer and doing the firmware up grade was easy, however reboot your computer after you install the DJI programs. The app for FPV is easy to use and connects to the camera easily. If you are using an IPhone you will need to go to settings and connect to the WiFi there before it will connect to the camera.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Return home my rear end!, April 24, 2014
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UPDATE: Well I DID love this drone and really loved the so called GPS return home feature except it DID NOT WORK! After owning this drone only a couple of weeks we were flying it this afternoon to take some arial shots and before I knew it I was helplessly watching my beloved Phantom fly away! Nothing I did brought it back. We searched for hours looking for it till 10pm with no success.
Be warned: This so called return home feature may not be all that it appears. All I have left is the remote. I did register the drone so my hope is that somebody will find it and contact me but at this point I think it's gone for good.

FIRST REVIEW: If you want a drone of any kind at all, this is the one. Top quality build and materials and so easy to fly due to the GPS. The camera can be a bit confusing and it would be nice if the WIFI had a longer range but it really is a nice drone. The kids and myself fly it about every other day. Good price also. Highly recommended!!!!
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40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product, February 9, 2014
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I totally agree with David Gorley's review of this product. The only thing lacking is more cohesive information on setting it up. After figuring out the firmware upgrade and interpreting the mysterious flashing colors (red, green, orange) from the LED, this thing is really easy to fly for a beginner like me. Things I learned that might help others (not necessarily in this order):

1. Charge the camera using the USB cable plugged into a regular plug socket with an iphone adapter. My PC USB port would not charge it.

2. The GPS mode is great for flying when there is a wind, you have much more control. My experience was in a 10mph breeze where I switched to Attitude mode and lost control so much so that I had to hit the down lever and land it immediately.

3. Wait for the LED to blink only green, before taking off. This means it has recorded its home position and is using the satellites for positioning.

4. Insert the battery in the phantom (after connecting) before trying to put the cable in. Then slide the cable and connector above the battery on the top left side, where you'll see a small cutaway in the battery door frame that allows you to do this. When removing, pull the cable out first. I'm not sure why but several reviews I read say to leave the battery hanging until you have your LED flashing green before you put it in the Phantom.

5. Make your first flight outside, so the Phantom can connect to the satellites. That way you can be sure it is working correctly. You can start it up indoors (after removing the props) to test the motors but there will probably be a lot of red flashes from the Phantom's LED because it can't connect with the satellites.

6. After upgrading the firmware, my controller lost contact with the Phantom. It had defaulted to a PPM controller in the software. I switched it to DBUS and then all was good again.

This thing is fun to fly and the video quality is very good (720p).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My $500 just flew away, May 19, 2014
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I ordered this FC40 in April. Being a newbie in RC, I read the manuals many times, and watched hours of youtube videos just to make sure that I got it right. The firmware was also upgraded and I made sure that the calibration shown in the software is within the range, limited the flight coverage to a very conservative range, and that it is in the Go Home-Land mode.

Upon use in an open field, I manually calibrated until I got the green lights on, waited for several seconds before flying it to make sure the home location was recorded. The GPS setting is on... and flew it up... made a few turns, and brought it back to ground again. More confident that it is really as easy to fly and that intelligent as they said, I raised it up again, moved it several meters away from me, and then it started drifting even when I wasn't touching the controls. Then it drifted farther and quite fast. I turned off the control, expecting it to fly back to me. Unfortunately, it continued to fly fast that I wasn't able to chase it. Went over trees beyond the field, and then it's gone. My $500 literally just flew away (actually it's even more since I also purchased propeller guards and 3 extra batteries which I can't use now).

I did many research work before I purchased this. I thought that it's something that I can really use for my work. While I still need it, I'm not sure anymore if DJI-Phantom is the right product for me. Granted that it got very good reviews, I am afraid that when I get another one, it can be defective. I did everything according to instructions... how could its fail-safe feature fail? I emailed DJI 2x already but still no response.

So -- if you're considering this, especially if used overseas (that's where I am now somewhere in SE Asia), and might have difficulty getting customer support via email, buy with extreme caution. Unless you'll consider attaching it to a string on its first flight to make sure it doesn't fly away. Pretty expensive kite.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun but the range to the camera leaves something to be desired., April 12, 2014
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I would guess this is one of the best quadcopters available for the money. I would have given it five stars
if the range from the cell phone to the camera had been longer. At about 300 feet, I lose contact with the
camera and, while it continues to video, I no longer can stop, start or change the view as compared to
the control of the copter which is considerably longer. Maybe the best thing about the Phantom is that, in
all the models, if the copter loses contact with the controller it automatically returns to its home position
(the spot from which it took off for that flight) so the chance of losing your Phantom is minimal.
The battery lasts about ten minutes so the range is limited by that. The Phantom 2 Vision has a better
camera (it swivels up and down and films in 1080p) and the contact between your cell phone and camera
is longer. The batteries last about 25 minutes, which is a big improvement over the FC40; but the batteries
cost $169 as compared to $23 for the FC40 so that's certainly a consideration. I don't think you can go
wrong with either of them; but the Phantom 2 Vision costs about $700 more than the FC40.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT!!, March 1, 2014
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This has been every thing that it said it was!! My husband and I are very pleased. A friend had bought one first so we could see it in action. We went on and ordered the blade guards and an extra battery right from the beginning. Battery time is about 14 mins. give or take. camera is very easy to remove and charge, loads to your computer very easy. Pic. quality is pretty good. clear. AND YES if you start to loose control, GPS will take over and bring it back home. But just remember it will take the shortest route back to base. So if a pine tree is in your way....oh Well!!! LOL Also invest going on line and printing out the manual. Makes using a lot easier!!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It really works!!!!, May 15, 2014
By 
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I have been shopping for a drone for over two years and finally settled on the FC40 by DJI. Overall this is a really good starter drone, it has a ton of great features that work well and most importantly you can be flying within hours from the time you get the box. But here are some things to know...

1) Assembly Required - You need nothing more than a phillips screwdriver and a computer with a YouTube connection. There are no instructions in the box, because DJI believes it's so simple you don't need instructions. That isn't totally true, you will probably want to follow the DJI Phantom assembly video on YouTube. It takes about fifteen minutes to assemble the FC40, and it is rather simple to do following the video.

2) Learn To Fly - Yes the FC40 is ready to fly upon assembly, but all this means is you don't have to weight balance, tune the props or do other things you might have to do with other drones. This does not mean you shouldn't take the time to learn to fly the FC40. The FC40 is NOT a toy - it can be used for commercial purposes. I use mine for Law Enforcement. How is this so? Because it has pretty advanced flight features and you really need to understand the controls or you are going to get frustrated - in fact, you might not even figure out how to turn it on if you don't understand the controls. There is no - "on/off" button for the drone. So just spend thirty minutes and watch the DJI videos on "how to fly" the Phantom. Once you are done with the videos, your batteries are fully charged, you will be hovering and swooping in no time.

3) Extra Battery - You should invest in an extra battery - it really is more fun to just swap a battery than wait for a recharge.

Flight Characteristics

The FC40 is built on the amazing Phantom platform and hence has really stable flight dynamics. It is not quiet, it can reach one thousand feet of climb (which would be illegal in the states so stay under 400), it is nimble, fast, can hover, rotate on it's axis and climb or dive quickly. It takes about ten minutes to get proficient in GPS mode, but you also have other flight modes supported (watch the videos before you try them).

Return To Home

The FC40, will return to home if it loses the connection to the remote controller. This is very cool, but also can be very scary. There is a very specific order to power up the FC40 and power it down - an actual flight checklist - if you don't follow these steps, the FC40 may take off on it's own and try to get back to the last "return to home" location. Meaning you will see it fly away and have to hunt for it. Many people have lost their FC40 because they didn't know the right startup/shutdown protocol. Follow the checklist! Under normal operating conditions, meaning you followed the checklist, when you initialize the FC40, it will record it's latitude and longitude, as well as it's orientation on a 3D plane. If during flight, the FC40 loses it's connection to your remote control, if will get to about 60' feet and then plot a course to it's original starting point and land itself within a few feet of the take off location. This is pretty damn awesome - but remember if there are buildings, wires or trees - it could crash - this is a last resort - don't rely on this - as it might not make it home!

FPV (First Person Video)

The FC40 has a wireless camera that can connect to your SmartPhone. In this mode it will stream live video to you and you can actually see what the FC40 sees in real time. There are limits to the wireless connection and so you should always rely on watching the FC40, because the FC40 can go a lot further than the wireless connection.

Distance/Altitude

It can climb to about 1,000 feet and has a range of about a 1mile...that is scary...and all depends on atmospheric conditions and the geography. Remember this - if you send your FC40 off on a long flight - and you lose site of it - you might be out your investment! Keep in mind that if the battery dies it might not make it home. Just like a real pilot - know your fuel levels or you might just become the next person who donates their drone to someone a mile away.

Camera

The camera is pretty good, but not great. If you want great you will need to upgrade to the higher end Phantoms and get a GoPro camera. For those just starting out, exploring and learning this camera is amazing. You can't make it turn or swivel, but you can control the zoom, which is really cool and you can decide when to take photos or when to shoot live video (if you are using FPV). You can also then save your video/photos to your camera and not have to transfer things from the SD card.

What else?

It is a great entry point that balances cost with features - this is really packed full of REAL features that are rather mature. Other drones have a lot of features, but they sacrifice quality and that just sucks. Overall this is a great platform for up to the intermediate drone pilot. It is not something you will outgrow overnight and it will bring out the inner kid in you!

Resources

There is an entire website dedicated to Phantom Drone pilots where you will learn a ton...so check that out as well as YouTube. The biggest thing you can do with this drone is take time to learn - it is not a toy - it is a real drone that has the same technology as some military drones.

Required:

- 4 AA Batteries for the remote
- Micro SD card for the camera

Gotcha:

One thing that took time to figure out and a bunch of research, was charging the camera battery. The camera has it's own battery and it is charged by a micro USB cord. For whatever reason, it doesn't charge if you connect it to a computer. So invest in a wall charger and charge the camera battery using the wall charger. The camera will blink red when charging and then solid red when close to fully charged and eventually not display any light when it is fully charged. Totally whacky but it is what it is and now you know.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After a couple of bumps all is well and this thing rocks, March 21, 2014
Initially I rated this at 1 star for a broken camera and a broken charger that came with my FC40 - those defective items really messed up a big weekend I had hoped to use this on extensively.

DJI has replaced both for me so now my comments are about the product itself with everything working.

I'll start with the Cons:

Controller/remote aka "transmitter"
It's not well documented enough that the FC40 version of the phantom comes with a 5.8ghz controller which has a max range of 500m - half of what the cheaper Phantom offers on it's more traditional and more compatible 2.4ghz controller frequency band. The information is there but it's not emphasized enough, many buyers of the FC40 and the Phantom 2 vision only later learn and understand what those limitations mean and end up having to spend more money for aftermarket controllers so they can re-gain the additional controller range.

Camera
While the FC40 camera is surprisingly cool being able to stream live video straight to your smartphone as you fly, the app (as of 3/27/2014 on the latest iPhone version of the app)actually closes itself when you lose while also stopping the camera if it's recording. Having to reconnect the app every time you go out of range which is only 300 feet is annoying and nearly trumps the experience, not to mention the video quality is not high enough to prevent the eventual need for a gopro or other higher quality recorder if you start to bring it with you to document trips. In addition, the FC40 camera doesn't record sound, not a terrible thing since it would mostly just get propeller buzz but the lack of sound prevents you from having other uses for the camera at all. Honestly it doesn't make sense to buy the FC40 unless it's on a tremendous sale. It certainly is worth 10 or 20 extra bucks over the regular phantom to get the FC40 as it's 100% turn-key for a slick FPV system minus a micro SD card. A great copter to buy for someone just looking to be able to fly around, get some neighbors to freak out on how cool it is and get some cool shots of your neighborhood.

Quadcopter:
No Cons, it's the same great, enormously capable and easy to fly Phantom as the others, just operated by a shorter range frequency band.

Pros:
As a grown man's TOY, you really can't beat the FC40 at it's price point. The FC40 Camera for all it's downsides is probably the only wifi enabled live-streaming camera small enough and slick enough to do what it offers at it's price. Being paired with the copter that's configured to work seamlessly with it out of the box as a turn-key FPV solution for just $500 bucks really is the absolute best-deal for a all-in one introduction to basic FPV and aerial photography anywhere bar none. For a casual user, it's everything you need and folks will be utterly amazed at how it streams straight to your phone. The only other option for that functionality is the Phantom 2 vision which is well over twice the price. Worth it for someone wanting an actual filming platform, not worth it for someone who casually loves RC helicopters and wants a new way to film their vacations without having to become an electrical engineer or spend as much as a monthly mortgage payment to get it.

Also, the 5.8ghz controller frequency band does allow for wifi control of a gopro hero. For those who aren't interested in flying out to 1km away, trading some max range for the ability to do the wifi stuff is also a big plus for shorter-range cinematography. I once heard of a Realtor buying one specifically for that functionality as they didn't need range but they wanted to do both stills and videos of their listings from the air - a great idea.

Conclusion:

If you intend to add a gopro, a gimbal and a real FPV system you really need to get the standard Phantom or the Phantom 2 non vision which use the 2.4ghz controller allowing you to use the more popular and readily available 5.8ghz band for FPV downlink. 2.4Ghz is great for FPV but it's more expensive and the main benefit is the longer range which you won't be able to use on the limited range of the FC40's controller. You can always upgrade to a different transmitter/controller but then you render the FC40 camera useless.

Given that I got this on sale for just 10 bucks over the standard Phantom, I can absolutely rate it 5 stars. Considering that you won't find that price for the FC40 probably ever again (B&H photo/video sold out in 1 day when they did that special), I give it 4 stars - the camera this comes with isn't quite worth the regular price over the standard phantom but is absolutely worth it at just $10-20 bucks more.
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