Yuneec recently launched a new model in their Typhoon series, the Typhoon H. Retailing for $1299, it costs about two times as much as the Typhoon Q500 4K

The world first saw the Typhoon H at the 2016 CES, where Yuneec put on a pretty amazing demonstration of the craft's new obstacle-avoidance feature. Few realize this demonstration was actually carried out by Ascending Technologies, a company owned by Intel. Before the demonstration, they installed a motion-capture system — called VICON — in the obstacle course, mounting light-reflecting balls on the biker's helmet and on the aircraft, itself. Then, pre-mounted infrared cameras analyzed the balls' location and speed. In that way, the VICON system helped the Typhoon H react to the biker's motion.

Three months after CES, Yuneec still hadn't officially released or started to sell the Typhoon H with Intel's RealSense technology. Speculation was that the technology was still under development, with no clear date when it would be complete. Numerous reliable sources say the distance detection and obstacle-sensing performance of RealSense was disappointing in direct sunlight, which may be why – according to buzz on the Internet — why the Typhoon H's outdoor obstacle-avoidance videos were shot in cloudy weather. As Yuneec started to ship in May, only the version of the Typhoon H with ultrasonic avoidance was listed on the company's English website, at a $1299 retail price.

Industry's Latest Drone - Yuneec's Typhoon H
Typhoon H (PRNewsFoto/dronecompares.com)

The Typhoon series was launched in 2015, first with the Q500+, then followed by the Q500 4K, and now, the Typhoon H. The Q500+ came with a camera that captured 1080p video, a WiFi video-transmission system and an Android-powered touchscreen. The original Q500+ was superseded by the DJI Phantom 3 series soon after launch, in April 2015. Yuneec then released the Q500 4K, priced at $899.

For drones targeted at aerial photography, the flight experience and shooting performance are determined by video-transmission range, video smoothness and quality, both of which are areas where DJI's HD video downlink excels. The DJI Phantom 3 4K was launched soon after the Typhoon Q500 4K, at a price that was $100 lower. It, too, had a WiFi-based transmission system, a 4K camera, but a smaller size and a live view feature for mobile phones connected to the remote controller. Within its app, it's also possible to edit videos and instantly share them to social media. All of this is why the Phantom 3 4K has been the strongest competitor to the Q500 4K.

In terms of design and specs, the Typhoon H is only slightly different from the Q500 4K, namely with the introduction of a 360° rotatable gimbal, six foldable airframe arms and a front-facing ultrasonic module. Both are equipped with CGO3 gimbals, WiFi video-transmission systems and Android touchscreen displays, though the Q500 4K also includes a handheld gimbal.

Why, then, is the Typhoon H $400 more than the Q500 4K? When it comes to hardware, the Typhoon H has the six foldable arms and the ultrasonic module, but the 360° rotatable gimbal isn't going to mean that much for a single operator. To fully realize the benefit of that full rotation, you need a second person to operate the camera and gimbal. From the aspect of flight safety and ease of transportation, a hexacopter design is not more reliable than a quadcopter because reliability depends on flight controller, batteries, sensors, etc. A hexacopter consumers more power, and this aircraft is large, even when its arms are folded, so it's not that great for transport. The front ultrasonic module above the camera can sense obstacles, but it makes no sense to detect obstacles if it cannot keep track of them. So, for photography, flight experience, safety and ease of transport, there's very little separating the two Yuneec drones.

The Typhoon H and Q500 4K essentially occupy the same position in the market, but the premium pricing of the H seems to contradict this. The Typhoon H has the same design and user experience as the other products in the Typhoon series, but when it comes to functionality, the DJI Phantom 3 4K is more powerful, flies better and has better photography, editing, and sharing features that make it a better choice for new pilots.