A Close Look at Dobby, the Flying Selfie Drone

A selfie stick with propellers.

By David Isaac

Selfie Sticks might be going the way of the dodo bird thanks to Dobby, a flying selfie drone that takes pictures and video. You'll be forgiven for thinking a selfie drone is a bit ridiculous (or perhaps even an April Fool's joke product). I did. But the more closely you examine Dobby, the more impressed you become. It's loaded with features and made by Zerotech, a serious drone company known for its flight control systems.

It Fits In Your Pocket

First of all, Dobby is compact. Its propeller arms fold up to reduce carrying size. Ready for travel, it measures 5.3 inches X 2.6 inches X 1.4 inches. It has a smaller footprint than an iPhone 7, though it is clearly a lot thicker. Nonetheless, it will fit in your pocket, and weighs about 7 ounces.

Picture Quality Delivers

Dobby's camera is pretty darn good (for nonprofessional use--you won't make a feature film with it). It features a 13 megapixel camera and shoots video in 1080p FHD (1920x1080).

You can angle the camera for seven different shooting positions, from 22.5 degrees to -90 degrees (that is to say, pointing straight at the ground). Dobby's shooting modes include real-time, delayed self-timer, and continuous burst.

You can use the trajectory video shooting mode to film yourself as Dobby flies away. Select the camera angle you want and send Dobby aloft. With the countdown timer, Dobby flies away while shooting for a specified period (say, 10 seconds). Release the countdown timer button and Dobby automatically returns to you.

Dobby also features facial recognition and target tracking. So it can keep its eye on you (after all, you're the star). This tutorial video shows how target tracking works:

It's Super Easy to Fly

Dobby is a fun drone meant to take selfies, not to fly aerobatics.

So flying is made simple. Your smartphone is the joystick. Drag your finger across the screen and Dobby goes up/down or left/right. There's also an option in which you can move Dobby by tilting your phone. You can even fly by gesture control and take off using voice command.

Takeoff and landing--often the hardest part of flying drones--are simplified to one click.

As easy as it is to fly, Zerotech recommends you practice first in an isolated area. With an eye on safety, the company also sells a propeller guard--a plastic ring that encircles the drone and its propellers. It costs an additional $13.

Battery Life Could Be Better

Dobby includes just one 970 mAh battery and people who have tested the drone (and liked it) say that the battery life is closer to 5 and a half minutes than the advertised 8-to-9 minutes. It may pay to buy a second battery depending on how much you use it. Batteries sell for $65 so you might want to hold off until you're sure you need an extra.

Ready to Fly

Zerotech isn't the first to attempt a selfie drone, but it is the first to succeed. It's definitely worth a close look if you're searching for a unique holiday gift for someone who loves selfies, photography, or going for hikes and capturing sunsets. Dobby: The Flying Selfie Drone retails for $400.

Here's what you need to know about Dobby's key specifications:

Folded dimensions:   135mm x 67mm x 36.8mm
Weight:    199g
Camera:   13 Megapixel Photo / 1080p FHD Video / 75°  lens
Shooting modes:   Real time shooting / Self-timer shooting / Burst
Positioning: Outdoor: GPS + GLONASS Dual Satellite Positioning
Indoor: Sonar + Optical Flow positioning

Other features:
Voice enabled control
Palm take-off and landing
Motion guided control
Target tracking
3-axis electronic image stabilization system
One-click sharing to social media
10 second auto track short video
Face recognition