This quadcopter kite takes the selfie stick to new heights


Call it a selfie stick on steroids or just a less technical way to get great aerial shots. Either way, the Fotokite Phi is a camera tool that may have arrived just on time.

Instead of forcing you to learn how to fly a camera-mounted drone, the Fotokite Phi tethers the flying device to you via a leash, eliminating sometimes unwieldy software controls and shaky, newbie piloting from the aerial-image-capturing equation.

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The makers of the Fotokite Phi call it a "no-frills aerial camera," and that's exactly what it is. It means you can take better photos, but there are limitations.

First, the lightweight (only 300 grams) quadcopter does not include a camera. You'll have to provide your own GoPro camera, the device the rig is optimized for. Next, it's important to note that the Fotokite Phi doesn't rely on GPS. It works by recognizing the tether tension as a positioning guide, as well as your manipulation of the tether when it's time to adjust the device's viewing angle.

Fotokite Phi's tether is 26 feet long, which is enough to allow you to take stunning aerial photos, but not enough to capture the kind of comprehensive aerial scouting videos that have become common from drone users. However, the upside with the Fotokite Phi is that you don't have to worry about losing control of your expensive drone and having it end up in the water or shattered to pieces on the ground because some bystander decided to play with it.

And that's no small consideration. As popular as amateur drones have become, stories of losing one to damage as a new user are pretty common. With drone prices ranging from $400 to $1,000, it's not like you're just experimenting with easily replaceable sports equipment — it can get expensive.

In that respect, price may be another one of the advantages of the Fotokite Phi. Despite its no-frills approach, its creators estimate that the retail price will be about $500, which, when you consider the low risk of damaging or losing the device (compared to drones), seems relatively reasonable. Another great feature is that the device can be folded up and stored in a portable canister.


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