The new modern solution to capturing a group outing is to let a palm-sized yellow drone named Pixy hover in front of you and do it automatically. In addition to hovering, this cute little mechanical photographer is also able to circle around you, follow you, and expand the landscape, all while recording memories. I went out in the field with Pixy to see how it works and if it’s as cool as it looks.
There are some notable limitations that should be addressed from the start. The drone can only fly for about 5 minutes on a single charge. Its image quality can vary greatly depending on the lighting conditions. But, just as Instagram initially found a way to scroll through grainy smartphone images through its use of filters, Pixy has overcome its hurdles by allowing anyone to capture moments like never before.
Pixy simplifies drone photography to the point of just turning it on, turning a dial, and then letting it take flight on its own. But does it provide enough to be useful?
- Simple to use
- Small, almost pocket-sized
- Easy editing via Snapchat
- Very short battery life
- Image quality is acceptable, but not excellent
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How does Pixy work?
Unlike other drones used for logistics or racing, Pixy is only made to use its camera. That’s it. There is no controller to fly the drone. There’s not even a trigger to be able to tell Pixy when to start and stop recording. Its sole purpose is to automatically record videos.
It may seem tightly crafted, but it’s the type of product I’ve wanted for a while – and I suspect others would too. Why? Because the first time I flew a drone almost a decade ago, I recorded myself flying it into a tree and crashing into a car. Most people understand the appeal of drones, but even now they still have work to maintain, lug around, and operate.
That’s not the case here. Within 5 minutes of taking it out of its packaging, Pixy was flying as a personal videographer. To start it, you turn the dial to select its flight style and press its single button while holding Pixy in your palm. The forward-facing lights will indicate once it starts recording. To reign it, all you have to do is raise your palm and it should detect it and land in your hand.
Is Pixy a good photo drone?
As a product, Pixy works extremely well. I would actually say that Pixy works so well that it makes all of its shortcomings extremely obvious. The most concerning aspect is the battery life of the product. Its flight time, per battery, is measured in minutes you can count on one hand.
Once you start using it, you don’t want to stop, but every battery wears out quickly. When Pixy has had enough, it will float to the ground instead of returning to your hand, so you’ll want to make sure you’re somewhere safe or have a fresh battery. I saw this happen when I let it fly from a second story balcony. It took off and hovered for a while before spinning on the ground. It was undamaged and there were no real marks to show.
There’s a five-point battery indicator on the bottom of the drone, and it’s pretty easy to pop a battery in and out of the slot. However, it becomes boring to constantly juggle identical batteries. Especially if you’re hoping to be ready for the magic right time.
Snap sells extra batteries, and you probably shouldn’t buy this product if you’re not buying the extra power. A dual battery charger comes with it and can charge two batteries at the same time for $49.99. If you don’t buy it, you’ll need to charge one battery at a time in the Pixy itself. Be aware that additional batteries will increase the overall cost, but not extravagantly.
Pixy image and video quality
Pixy’s other shortcoming besides its battery life is its image and video quality, especially stills. Each of its various modes can be customized in the settings to capture video only, or images and video. Because the photos are so candid, however, I didn’t see any that I wanted to save. I relied on using the device to take videos rather than photos.
Pixy takes 2.7K resolution videos with up to 30 frames per second. It has a 12-megapixel camera that can produce solid videos, but your results will really depend on lighting and weather conditions. If her camera is staring at the sun, she probably won’t be able to overcome this obstacle. Windy weather will also disrupt its flights.
Almost all the videos I took were more than watchable. Some of them even looked really nice. There were a few in which people’s faces were covered in dark shadows and the results were unfortunate.
The drone has 16GB of onboard storage and will be able to store around 100 videos or 1,000 photos. In practical terms, this means that you can swap the battery around 20 times before having to empty its storage.
- Pixy uses the Snapchat app to upload photos and videos which can also be automatically added to your phone’s photo library.
- Snapchat lets you trim videos, add music, add text, and do other editing tasks with minimal effort.
- Pixy is not water resistant.
- The drone comes with a lanyard to wear around the neck. It’s neat, but I probably would have preferred a cheap little case instead.
- Pixy does not record sound. You’ll probably only hear the sound of the propellers anyway, so that’s understandable.
Should you buy Pixy on Snap?
Pixy is less a drone than a personal photographer. This really answers the question of why an average consumer would want a drone: for selfie photos and videos.
Without a professional need, I’m not sure there’s continued good use for most consumers to purchase a drone. I’ve tried drones many times, and they always go unused. It’s been the same for other people I know. After a few weeks of curiosity, the excuses to turn it on run out and he only uses it once or twice a year.
It’s debatable whether the limited battery life and poor pictures are worth the price for all consumers, but regardless, Pixy can still be considered a hit for people who want to add a dose of fantasy to their memories. As long as Snap keeps its foot on the pedal, the second generation of this product will be exponentially better. As it stands, Pixy looks like a fun breakthrough product that demonstrates the future of consumer photography.
Buy on Snap from $229.99.
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