Rating: 1/5 stars
If you fancy the idea of immortalizing your greatest adventures or some special moments from several angles and without effort, you will be inherently drawn to Lily Flying Camera and the innovative concept behind it.
It is a portable device acting like a drone. Once tossed in the air, it can fly by itself at a speed of up to 25 mph, taking pictures and recording audio files and videos from a distance ranging from 5 ft to 100 ft.
Created four years ago in the robotics lab of the University of California, Berkeley, by Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow, this product managed to raise the huge amount of $34 million from pre-sales only, considerably enriching the company’s accounts.
The developing team built five hundred cameras and entrusted them to beta testers. The feedback received from these users showed that Lily Flying Camera is the best fit for recording videos featuring family members and pets.
The good news is that 60.000 products sold out before even reaching the market, in the pre-order stage. The bad news is that the company failed to deliver the promised, already paid for products after an endless wait, and left its first buyers to prey to a bitter disappointment.
At this point, everyone wonders if the frustratingly renewed delays are really the result of the ongoing development process aiming to solve the technical glitches involving mainly the flight controls or the product is a scam. Let’ s try to sort out this dilemma!
About Lily Flying Camera
The most appealing feature of this device is its capability to follow the user anywhere and to start recording films as soon as the user throws it in the air. You can even use it underwater, as it is waterproof to a depth of maximum one meter.
Lily can record videos in full HD 1080p/720p at 60 frames / second or take 12 MP still pictures. Fitting easily in an ordinary backpack, it weighs only 2.8 pounds, needs no setup and can fly autonomously, without using a joystick controller.
To track the user’s position, coordinates and speed, Lily Flying Camera connect to a wrist GPS tracker the user should wear. Users can even instruct Lily to record specific events in slow motion.
Although the pre-ordered products should have reached their owners in February 2016, the only things the customer received from the company were some email updates on the product improvements. Tired of waiting forever, many of these disappointed buyers pulled out and asked for a refund.
If the initial price of the camera was $499 and then rose to $599, the latest price posted for pre-sale skyrocketed to $899. While the estimated delivery time is now the winter of 2016, the natural question is why potential buyers should invest so much money in a product that has not yet seen the market.
How Lily Flying Camera Works
To put it simple, this product is basically a drone you just toss in the air and then wait to be recorded or photographed knowing that the device will follow your footsteps everywhere you go, just like a pet dog.
More specifically, using GPS and computer vision, this small drone-like camera can take HD pictures, record sounds and videos focused on you from 5 to 100 feet distance, the best pictures being the ones shot in the 10 to 30 ft range.
Its continuous flight time is only 20 minutes. When the battery begins to run low, it notifies you and, if you don’t bring it to ground, it lands automatically after a short while. To recharge it, you need approximately 2 hours. In other words, this camera is not the ideal recording device on long bike rides or hikes.
Having a sealed body and an insulated motor, the Lily Flying Camera is waterproof to a maximum depth of 1 meter. It can even float, so you can land it on water if you want to, or you won’t have to worry if it battery dies while you are out boating and it lands by itself.
Looking like a big wristwatch, the GPS tracking device can track your basic coordinates, such as distance, speed and position, while maintaining a preset angle, including slide-up, lead, side, loop and many others.
The catch about this camera is that you can operate it without using the traditional joystick, so, once it is in the air, you can practically rely on it to do the cameraman’ job without any further maneuvers or instructions.
Having about the size of a standard laptop and weighing only 2.8 pounds, the Lily Flying Camera isn’t the smallest drone on the market, but it will fit in a regular backpack.
This product has 3 main functions:
- Taking HD Photographs – Similar to other drone-like devices, this product can shoot 12 MP still pictures within a range of 5 – 100 feet from the target, flying at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour.
- Recording Videos – Thanks to the external microSD card slot and its 12 MP Sony sensor – the same one used on the Ion Air Pro action cam and GoPro Hero 3, Lily Flying Camera can take video records of approximately 45 minutes, its internal storage capacity being of 4 GB.
- Audio Records – The tracking device that is synchronized with the video function also allows audio recording, which makes Lily a great tool for film-maker wannabes and a significant leap forward in videography and cinematography.
Given that the actual product has yet to reach the market, and potential customers rely in nothing but blind faith when ordering it, the information available is based only on the developer’s. There is no guarantee or proof whatsoever that the Lily Flying Camera will work as advertised.
So far, the whole story is only a matter of hoping that, sometime in the future, the actual product will live up to its alluring presentation and the company will actually start delivering the real thing instead of a bunch of nicely-wrapped promises.
Keeping in mind that the camera has a couple of downsides hard to ignore, such as its incapacity to avoid obstacles, the short flight time, or the lack of a transmitter, it would be quite unreasonable to encourage anyone to invest in something inexistent.
Lily Flying Camera Features
- Rather small size, comparable to that of a standard laptop;
- Built-in, lithium-ion rechargeable battery, allowing for a 20 minute-flight corresponding to a battery life of 4 hours, rechargeable in 2 hours with a 10A charger;
- Rated IP67 waterproof;
- Photo resolution: 12MP;
- Lily Flying Camera video resolution: 1080 pixels at 60 frames per second/ 720 pixels at 120 frames per second in slow motion mode;
- Video format: H.264 codec, .mp4 file;
- Fixed focus;
- Image stabilization;
- Digital gimbal stabilizer;
- The Lily Flying Camera uses several sensors: GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, three-axis gyro, barometer, front- and bottom-facing camera;
- Internal memory capacity: 4GB micro SD;
- External memory card slot;
- Lily Companion Application available on iOS and Android, allowing various camera settings, customized shots and content editing and sharing;
- The package should include a micro USB cable, a brick charger and a user manual.
Lily Flying Camera Pricing and Return Policy
This long-waited, yet to be released flying camera is only available as pre-sale through the official website, at $899/piece. Its regular retail price, as shown on the manufacturer’s website, will be $999. There is no mention of any discounts on the company’s website.
For the time being, the product can only be shipped in US. For the shipping, buyers will need to pay an additional fee of $20, regardless of the number of devices ordered. As advertised on the above-mentioned website, the first generation of Lily Flying Camera should be delivered with a one-year limited warranty, but the company does not give further details on how they intend to cover it.
The manufacturer also claims to offer a 30-day money back guarantee as long as the item is intact and within warranty. Also, given the very long waiting period, until the product will be effectively on sale, the buyers can ask for a refund, to be granted within five to ten business days. We have to admit, refunds for pre-ordered products are quite rare, and they give hope that this is not a scam after all.
Lily Flying Camera Strengths
- Simple and funny concept – A Frisbee-like camera that starts filming and taking photos of you as soon as you throw it in the air can definitely appeal to a lot of people. The best thing about it is the fact that it works without a flying stick or remote control.
- Autonomous operation – While working, this device doesn’t need any intervention from the user, who will be followed everywhere and recorded on camera from above, as long as he/she doesn’t engage in adventurous sports, like mountain climbing or skiing.
- Water resistant – Designed to withstand plunges to as deep as 1m, this product can also float and land on water, allowing the user to engage in entertaining summer activities, like swimming and diving.
Lily Flying Camera’s Weaknesses
- No deliveries yet – There is no way of knowing if the product will finally live up to the manufacturer’s promises or the actual release will be postponed again, as it has been so far.
- No obstacle avoidance – The most important shortcoming of this device is the lack of an obstacle avoidance function. Filming in a city environment or a forest, with obstacles every step of the way, could be quite risky with such an expensive investment.
- Short flight time – Only 20 minutes of flight and filming are possible, after which you need to take a long break, since the battery cannot be replaced and takes 2 hours to recharge.
- Only one target – The Lily Flying Camera can follow only one target at a time, even though the developers have promised to come up with an enhanced version capable of solving this downfall.
- No refunds after the product will be released – Despite the one-year limited warranty, the company offers refunds only in the pre-sale stage. Unless this policy will be changed at a later time, it is not a very encouraging offer, especially considering the rather high price.
The Bottom Line about Lily Flying Camera
The first common sense rule of any successful purchase is to never pay for something that has yet to reach the market. At this point, the naked truth is that Lily is nothing but a concept, as promising as it may sound.
Another big issue with this gimmick is the very long period of time its developers take to complete their work and start delivering. As normal as it is to fix bug and glitches in the development process, this endless postponement suggests a defective management policy that makes the entire company look bad. How can people believe that their Lily Flying Camera will be worth waiting for, with no concrete evidence to support such naïve trust?
Why is the company so quick to raise all that money on pre-orders and then so slow to deliver what so many people paid in good faith? Wouldn’t it have been fair to make all those improvements and development in the first place and only then encourage people to start investing their money in a product they can actually see and touch?
Before you decide to invest in a concept, check out the reviews available online. Although few, they are all negative, leading to a rating as low as 1 star out of 5. It is a real shame to see a product that sounded so promising go down this way.
The safest alternative would be to wait until the product is actually available and user reviews and feedback become available online. Otherwise, you risk losing no less than $899 or keeping your money blocked for months or years, receiving a defective or low functioning Lily Flying Camera and regretting your investment.