The DJI FPV Digital System caused a lot of hype last year, with many opinions from both ends of the spectrum. What can be said for sure, however, is that this release by DJI was hugely popular and was able to alter the landscape of FPV as we knew it.
I think that the DJI FPV system changed the FPV game because of two things, mainly the immersion experience and the shift in rules when it comes to flying FPV cinewhoops or racing drones, both of which would be discussed later on.
One year in, any Google search about digital FPV will result in pages related to the DJI FPV system. This is because the company has pretty much cornered this section of the market. They’re like the Apple of the FPV industry - their products are good, and they most likely would not like to share with others when it comes to access and compatibility.
There are many factors that can be argued for and against analog and digital systems. However, it cannot be argued that, when it comes to true FPV, digital transmission cannot be beat. While this will always come with a footnote depending on things such as signal interference, range, and latency, it cannot be denied that pilots flying digital FPVs will have a more immersive experience than those flying with analog UAVs.
If you want full HD videos streamed to your goggles, then digital is the way to go. When it comes to clarity of your feed, which can not only translate to better sensory satisfaction but also safety in flight, nothing can top digital except maybe for top of the line analog systems that can cost a pretty penny.
In pretty much Stephen Curry broke the NBA, DJI’s Digital FPV System also broke the unwritten code when it comes to the FPV industry. There was a time - and that time still does exist - that these types of drones should be built from the ground up. It is rare to have pilots randomly meeting and having the exact same setup for their UAVs. Even ready-to-fly quads would need to be modified and customized, as if it’s a rite of passage.
Continuing with our NBA analogy, now we have smaller teams with their best players shooting from way beyond the three point line. Three-point shots are being shot per game at a frequency unheard of. Now, more and more are going digital, with less work needing to be done since components of the system now work on a closed loop.
From the paradigm that quads would require dozens of individual parts to create a working drone, digital systems are purportedly “all-in-one solutions” that are pretty much plug and play, requiring little to no skill to assemble compared to the old days when everything had to be built from scratch.
I think that the biggest change that the DJI Digital FPV System made to the industry is that it now gave us a choice. Of course, there will be some who will be resistant to the change, as there are still things that analog quads can do. A prime example of this would be in the racing industry where racing drones cannot afford even a millisecond of delay, something that digital FPV is not yet capable of providing.
Thus, the market has been segmented from those who are staying loyal to analog drones to those who are more accepting of the new type of technology. Other companies have even followed in the footsteps of DJI and have come up with digital FPV systems of their own, although most of them are just playing catchup at this point.
Competition from the market and competition from rival companies will only make the industry stronger, in my opinion. In a climate where everything was analog, the introduction of an alternative to FPV cinematography and racing was just what was needed to shake things up, and these discussions and arguments about digital FPV will only make the market healthier with more and better options in the future.
And, perhaps, that future may be nearer than anyone may think. With rumors (and confirmed leaks!) of the new DJI Digital FPV System set for release probably in the coming weeks quickly becoming one of the buzzing topics in the drone community, only time will tell if the FPV drone industry will be rocked to its core once more.
For any comments on opinions on whether the DJI Digital FPV System, both present and future, had or will change the industry as a whole, feel free to provide your feedback. Thanks for reading!
A digital FPV system is something people have been interested in for a while, though I think if this comes to modular parts that can be put on FPV builds, it would have the biggest impact. With a digital FPV RX and TX you'd be able to get higher quality video with little cost to range, unlike the FPV that uses WFI, which has a somewhat limited range. I'm personally waiting for some sort of encoders that you could use with an analog RX and TX, which you'd just put before the send and receive on their respective inputs and outputs.
As it stands now, it just seems like another cool DJI product, which is nice if you aren't looking to do more performance-oriented flying on more capable platforms.