Professional drone pilots and drone enthusiasts rely on several accessories to make things easier for them. These accessories are specially useful when a drone is used for commercial purposes because the goal is to produce the best possible aerial footages. Most drone accessories for commercial use are especially designed to protect drones, speed up work, and improve the end product. One accessory that meets all those criteria is DJI CrystalSky, a dedicated monitor for drone pilots.
CrystalSky Monitor: DJI’s Expansion to the Pro Space
DJI is a world-renowned brand well-known for its recreational drones. The brand is top-of-mind when it comes to high-quality, top-of-the-line drones. Why then, did it decide to create the CrystalSky monitor?
DJI recognizes the fact that drones are transforming various industries, and they are rapidly becoming an important tool for commercial and industrial use. In a bid to stake a claim in the commercial space, particularly solutions for supporting professionals, DJI came up with a range of products that they would need to make their work more efficient at a lower cost. These products are designed to support their already robust line of drones. Launched in 2017, DJI CrystalSky was one of those products.
Initially, CrystalSky didn’t create much excitement or interest because after all, it was seen as just a screen. Drone pilots have been using smartphones or tablets and have never had major issues with either one. Another thing that raised eyebrows is that the specialist monitor is almost as expensive as a drone. What is so special about CrystalSky?
As it turns out, there are a lot of special things about it. You will only truly appreciate the CrystalSky monitor once you use it and when you see it at work.
This comprehensive DJI CrystalSky review will provide information for those who are thinking about purchasing it as a support accessory.
The Problem with Smartphones or Tablets
When companies develop a product, they usually start with a problem or a pain point from the consumer’s point of view and brainstorm ways on how to solve it or make life easier for them. CrystalSky is the solution to problems that you didn’t know you had.
Here are some problems that you may encounter when you use smartphones or tablets when flying drones:
- Screen Glare
When you use a smartphone or tablet when flying a drone on a bright, sunny day, you experience screen glare, which makes seeing what your drone sees a big challenge. When this happens, you will not be in total control of your shots, resulting in mediocre or sub-par images.
When you use a smartphone, another challenge that you’re faced with is scale. When you’re flying with a small screen, it is also a challenge to clearly see the shots that you made. The resulting images may not be as steady, well-lit, or focused as you thought they were.
- Call or Notification
When you’re using your smartphone or tablet while flying a drone, it is also possible that you might receive a call or get an email/app notification. After all, our smartphones and tablets are not primarily used for monitoring drones. These constant interruptions will interrupt your flow.
The bottom line is your smartphone or tablet should not perform a function that it is not designed for – a monitor for aerial photography. DJI saw this gap in the market as an opportunity to develop a specialized monitor. This is where CrystalSky meets the gap. It is a dedicated monitor specially designed for outdoor aerial imagery. It is designed for professional photographers/videographers and serious drone enthusiasts so that they can work seamlessly outdoors, even in bright conditions.
Features and Benefits
Here are the features and benefits of CrystalSky:
- It has an ultra-bright screen.
CrystalSky is meant for users to see the screen clearly under the intense heat of the sun. With 1,000 cd/m2 (High Brightness version), it is 4 times brighter than mobile devices. The 7.85 inch Ultra Brightness version has 2,000 cd/m2. Just as a point of comparison, the maximum brightness on most smart mobile devices is around 500 cd/m2 to 705 cd/m2. The image on the CrystalSky screen is visible even under the brightest conditions. This gives the drone pilot a clear view of all the shots. It also allows the pilot to correct issues on the spot.
- The screen has a low reflection rate.
This is another advantage of the CrystalSky monitor. It is difficult to see usual monitors under direct, bright sunlight and under intense heat. It gets harder to see the monitor as you go farther because of reflective light. But with CrystalSky Monitor and its dedicated Sunlight Readability Enhancement (SRE) mode, you can easily see your images.
With SRE, users have the option to increase the highlights or shallow of an image, helping them see specific areas of the screen more clearly when the sunlight is very bright. SRE technology is one of the best features of this product.
- It features an IPS display and a customized OS.
CrystalSky features a multi-touch display with IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology. An IPS screen also features a wider viewing angle.
The dedicated monitor runs on Android operating system. The customized Android system takes out unnecessary apps. It is also resistant to junk software and viruses. The user will only see the functions that have something to do with CrystalSky.
- It used optimized video decoding.
CrystalSky uses optimized video decoding to produce less latency. The dedicated decoder makes live video feed very smooth and fast, without choppy frames. The video is decoded clearly in real-time, unlike in smartphones and tablets where video transmission is less than ideal due to limitations in software access. To compare, real-time video decoding latency on a usual smart mobile phone or tablet is 220 ms, while CrystalSky only has 180 ms.
- It responds rapidly.
The CrystalSky monitor responds rapidly when it receives the drone pilot’s flight commands. It also quickly streams video feeds. Its Android interface is very responsive, loading the application very fast. Smartphones and tablets do not hold a candle to its rapid video monitor response.
- It has a lot of ports and network connectivity options.
CrystalSky has more ports than a laptop computer and has two slots for micro SD cards, so it is possible for the drone pilot to edit shots on-the-go. It has a USB Type-C port, USB-A port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a micro USB port, and an HDMI port.
The fact that it has two micro SD cards is one of its best features. Aside from its built-in 64GB/128GB RAM/ROM memory, pilots can now carry a higher memory capacity by inserting micro SD cards. A big memory capacity is ideal if you’re flying a DJI Inspire 2 because it records videos at 60 frames per second on 6K resolution, which eats up a lot of memory. As mentioned earlier, the higher memory capacity also makes it possible to edit shots on the device itself. There is no need to transfer it to a laptop.
The HDMI port also allows CrystalSky to output up to 4K videos to FPV goggles as well as other display devices. It transmits a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160.
The Micro USB and UB-C ports enable the monitor to connect with a remote controller and other devices.
The CrystalSky monitor can connect to Wi-Fi networks or hotspots, but Bluetooth is not supported. When it is connected to the internet, the device gets access to livestreaming, system upgrades, data synchronization, photo sharing, video sharing, and more.
- It has an exceptional screen resolution.
One of the best features of CrystalSky is its crisp and clear resolution. The 5.5 inch monitor has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, while the 7.85 inch version has a resolution of 2048 x 1536.
- It has long battery life.
You can use the CrystalSky monitor for over 6 hours on a single battery. It also supports quick charge. It also has a secondary external battery (two-cell 4920 mAh) so that it operates longer than mobile devices. Since it uses detachable batteries, CrystalSky will automatically charge or discharge.
Another remarkable feature of the battery is that it can also withstand extreme temperatures. It easily withstands cold weather to as low as -300 Fahrenheit. It can also withstand heat up to 1040 Fahrenheit.
- It is compatible with many DJI devices and apps.
It is designed to seamlessly work with the DJI GO, DJI GO 4, and DJI Pilot apps. CrystalSky also supports third-party apps. The user can install up to 20 apps on the device. The embedded DJI GO app enables it to have full access to all its features such as camera control, aircraft parameter adjustment, playback, and footage management. The user can also use offline maps.
The DJI CrystalSky monitor can connect to the following DJI drone models: Inspire series, Osmo Series, the Phantom series and the Matrice series.
- It features several system languages.
Anyone in the world can use CrystalSky. The system languages include Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese, and English. There are plans to add more languages in the future.
- It is durable.
The CrystalSky monitor is encased in aluminum, which makes it very durable. Since it is meant to be used outdoors, it is made of premium, high-grade materials.
- It supports customization.
The CrystalSky video monitor is flexible because it has programmable application buttons. These customizable buttons give the user full control of the settings and applications of the device. They can capture a screenshot or do a recording, set switch to maximum brightness, or adjust Wi-Fi settings.
Pros and Cons
After testing the CrystalSky monitor, we have come up with its Pros and Cons.
If you need drones in your professional life, there are innumerable ways to use the CrystalSky Monitor. This device opens up a whole new world of possibilities. In fact, its introductory video shows a broad range of commercial applications for this device.
This video monitor is designed to deliver a smooth and fast video experience, which is a valuable thing for commercial drone pilots. This is important especially for piloting the drone in VR mode. It also has reliable connectivity, another essential factor for drone use. Users don’t have to worry about getting choppy frames or losing connectivity when they are using this device.
One of the best things about the CrystalSky monitor is that the details on the screen are very clear and sharp, making it easier to fine-tune image composition and edit on the spot. Being able to see exactly what your drone’s camera can see is essential. If you want to produce more high-quality videos and screenshots, using this monitor is recommended. It is fast, responsive, and easy to use.
Apart from being heavier than a smartphone or tablet (which is a minor setback given its premium features) and the fact that it is only limited to DJI drones, the CrystalSky monitor seems to be perfect in every way. That is, except for one thing: the price. The 5.5 inches High Brightness version retails at USD $469, while the 7.85 inches High Brightness version retails at USD $699. The most expensive version is the 7.85 inches Ultra Brightness, which retails at USD $999. With all its great features, the price tag is justified. The question is, is it worth purchasing? It really depends on how often you plan to use the monitor and how much you need it.
The Bottom Line
With its expensive price, CrystalClear may not be worth purchasing if you are not a serious enthusiast or professional pilot. If you won’t use it for your profession, it is not worth your investment. If it is absolutely essential in your line of work, then it is a worthy investment.
CrystalClear provides the user with a streamlined, high-quality aerial video feed. It offers very powerful features with an aesthetically-pleasing design and perfectly intuitive system. If you want to produce high-quality videos and if perfect aerial imagery matters a lot, this versatile, durable, and powerful device is a definite must-have.