Oct 30th, 2016

The GoPro Karma can fly for 20-minutes on one charge. Not great – not really even good – but consolation comes in three forms:

  • Spare batteries are only $100
  • Replacing the battery is quick and easy
  • Karma carrying case fits 3+ spares

Unfortunately, the GoPro Karma Battery is listed as “Coming Soon” on GoPro’s website and 3rd party retailers turn up nothing. That makes for an incredibly irritating experience for Karma users, even more so for those who are first-time drone users.

I took the GoPro Karma out for my first flight today in Baltimore, joined by two friends (thanks Michael and Julia!). Michael brought his DJI Phantom 3 and we flew them in tandem. I’ve got a lot to say about the Karma itself and will at some point post a full review, but my initial experience was sullied by the 20-minute limit.

We initially flew the Karma off my roof:

After quickly losing GPS connection, we decided to take the battle elsewhere, staking our poles in a parking lot near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in Fells Point. By the time we took off again and got familiar with the controls, the remote warned us our time was just about up. Time for the kids to get out of the pool.

We retreated to my house to charge the battery, which takes 2 hours. Perfect timing for a sunset flight over the water, or so we thought, but a storm rolled in and it wasn’t worth the risk. Tomorrow I’ll try again…

My first flight was satisfying and fun, but the time constraints made it extremely frustrating. The fact that a solution exists but is currently unattainable magnifies that irritation.

The GoPro Karma is currently on back-order, with new Karma bundle purchases shipping November 28th. If they’re saving batteries for bundles, then it may be quite some time before current owners are able to stretch their flight time beyond 20 minutes. That’s incredibly disappointing. Not only does it diminish the value of taking your Karma out for some flight time, but it also dampens my interest in traveling to a great flight spot, knowing the travel time will far exceed my time in the air.

It could be worse. At least Karma batteries aren’t exploding left and right.

Head on over to our GoPro Karma Forums for more discussion.

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