This drone on a leash is the affordable flying camera you've been waiting for

Fotokite PhiThe Fotokite Phi.

For most people, the average drone camera is overly complicated. Remote controls, apps, landing gear  — it all sounds great until the drone makes a beeline into the nearest tree and the app controller suddenly isn’t as precise as you’d like. 

The Fotokite Phi, a “flying camera on a leash,” keeps it as simple as humanly possible. The $US349 drone launches in whatever direction you point it at, and is guided your movements  — if you want the drone to go to a certain place, just turn your wrist towards it. 

Since it’s on a tether, the propeller-driven drone can’t go very far. It’s essentially a hybrid of a drone and a kite. Since the propellers are soft, a kite-loving kid could probably use it safely, in fact.

“Our belief is that if you’re going for a hike, you don’t want to turn into a drone-flying spectacle. You just want a picture,” says Fotokite founder and CEO Sergei Lupashin.

Lupashin was inspired to create the Phi (and it’s more expensive older sibling, the $US10,000 Fotokite Pro) after watching Russian protests filmed by drones. “I think it’s very powerful. It’s a different perspective,” he says.

Despite its tether, the thermos-sized Fotokite Phi can fly high. Here it is above Burning Man:

It’s not for everyone, which is why it’s relatively cheap for a quadcopter. The Fotokite Phi takes footage via an onboard GoPro camera, which has to be purchased separately. And since it’s charged with an onboard USB port, the battery only lasts 15 minutes. The Fotokite Pro, in comparison, can last for hours tethered to an external battery. 

But if you’re not a professional journalist looking for hours of in-the-air coverage, the Phi should do the trick. It’s available for pre-order on Indiegogo here.

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