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GoPro Karma Review: The Practical, Portable Drone

October 5, 2016
Product Comparisons, Shopping
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GoPro is known for its line of action cameras. Now it’s launching its first drone, the GoPro Karma. The Karma works in tandem with a GoPro camera to let you capture footage from new vantage points.

If you’re considering buying a drone, we’ll help you decide whether the GoPro Karma is the one for you.

What is it?

goprokarmaThe GoPro Karma, like other personal-use drones, is a remote-controlled gadget that’s used to take pictures and videos from high positions. It can fly as high as 14,500 feet, resist wind speeds of up to 22 mph and has a battery life of up to 20 minutes.

The Karma measures 12 inches long, 16.2 inches wide and 4.6 inches high. It’s designed to be lightweight and easy to carry, weighing just over 2 pounds. It has four arms extending from its black-and-white body, each with its own 10-inch propeller, that can fold up for easy storage.

The drone has a detachable stabilizer located in front, which is the mounting component that holds the camera in place. It’s compatible with the GoPro Hero5 Black, Hero5 Session, Hero4 Black and Hero4 Silver cameras, all of which are sold separately.

» MORE: GoPro Hero5 Black vs. GoPro Hero5 Session

Features and accessories

The camera features and image quality will depend on which model you pair with the Karma. But regardless of the one you choose, the drone gives you:

  • Karma controller. karmacontrollerUse this included hand-held controller to choose a flight mode, fly the Karma and see from the drone’s point of view. Its 5-inch, touch-screen display, flight simulator, joysticks and one-button takeoff and landing function are designed to make operating the drone easy for beginners and experienced users alike. The battery lasts up to four hours.
  • Karma Grip. The Grip is an 8-inch-long handle that attaches to your GoPro camera’s stabilizer. You can hold it or mount it to your gear when you’d rather take photos or videos from the ground. It’s equipped to handle motion and can capture action shots that won’t turn out blurry. The Grip has built-in controls for power, mode selection and recording, and it has a 1.75-hour battery life.
  • Karma case. The Karma comes with a backpack-like carrying case for easy transportation. It has a built-in mount for the Karma Grip, so you can record hands-free while the drone is packed away.
  • Battery indicator lights. Lights located on the drone’s battery let you know when it’s running low on power.
  • GoPro Passenger app. The iOS- and Android-compatible app lets your friends see your footage in real time and control the camera from a smartphone or tablet as you fly the drone.
  • High-efficiency propellers. These are designed to help the drone operate smoothly while keeping noise to a minimum.

» MORE: DJI Phantom 3 Drone vs. 3D Robotics Solo Drone

Price and availability

The GoPro Karma is priced at $799.99. Remember, it does not come with a GoPro camera. If you don’t already own one of the compatible models, that’s another cost you’ll have to factor in. You can get the Karma bundled with the Hero5 Black camera for $1,099.99.

The verdict

The GoPro Karma is a good fit for a wide range of users because it’s simple to operate. It’s especially fitting for those who already own a compatible GoPro camera, because the two will work seamlessly together. Plus, you won’t have to fork over a few hundred dollars for a new camera on top of the price of the drone.

The Karma is also useful when it’s not in flight. Its detachable stabilizer and included Grip allow you to keep your camera rolling from the ground. And you can easily pack up the drone and take it with you when you travel thanks to its collapsible arms and carrying case.

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Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.