The mysterious Sony Airpeak drone was first shown at CES 2021 – and it’s not exactly the DJI rival we were hoping for.
Sony first announced the Airpeak drone project in November 2020, but did not disclose any images or details about the type of aircraft it had in store. Well, now we’ve seen a few short videos of Airpeak in action at CES 2021 – and it’s fair to say it’s aimed at the high-end professional market.
What we’re looking at is a professional rival to the DJI Inspire 2, not affordable consumer drones like the DJI Mavic Air 2. This may disappoint amateur enthusiasts, but professional aerial videographers will drool over the prospect of a Sony A7S III flight that is the camera showing the Airpeak drone carrying in the air.
In a brief statement, Sony said it would launch a new business aimed at “professional photography and video production”
According to the demo video, Airpeak is capable of shooting spectacular video while traveling at fairly high speeds – in Sony’s first teaser video, the drone was shown after a prototype Sony Vision S car on a racetrack.
The only other details we can learn from the video are that the Airpeak has a quadcopter design and some impressive chariots that retract after takeoff. The video also reveals that Airpeak will be a seriously expensive kit, although Sony has not yet revealed anything about prices or availability.
While Sony revealed very few details about Airpeak, the video and press release answered the main question we had about the project – will it be a consumer drone or a high-end tool for filmmakers? There is no doubt that Airpeak is currently targeting the latter.
This is a bit disappointing for those of us who were hoping Sony would take on DJI in the drone user space by giving us aerial versions of its more affordable cameras like the Sony RX100 series.
But there is still hope. In its CES 2021 edition of Airpeak, Sony says its professional photography and video tool will be “the first phase of this project.” Does this mean that the Airpeak brand can eventually be used for more affordable drones that can compete with DJI Mavic 2 Pro-like ones? It is possible, although it would be far away.
Starting with a professional drone makes a lot of sense for Sony – this is the market targeted by its largest ground-based cameras, such as the Sony A7S III and Sony A7R IV. In addition, the margins of high-end drones are much higher than their hobby counterparts, Airpeak fits well into Sony’s position as a high-end entertainment brand for both professional directors and ambitious creators.
For now, it looks like DJI and Skydio will continue to reign in the accessible space for drones – but Sony Airpeak is certainly emerging as an extremely impressive new contender at higher altitudes.
- See all TechRadar’s CES 2021 coverage. We cover the online show remotely to present you with all the latest technical news and launches, as well as some practical reviews.