In the Field with the Power Vision PowerRay

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Thanks to its 4K video capture, precise controls, and real-time streaming capabilities, the Power Vision PowerRay is one of the leading underwater drones available today. However, does being the standout among a burgeoning—but still relatively new and niche—category warrant a purchase? Find out in our review, below.

Power Vision PowerRay Wizard Underwater ROV Kit

History

Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROV) have been around for quite some time. They were first used as underwater military mine-sweepers, then later for industrial purposes and subsea construction. Recently, though, following the unprecedented success of consumer aerial vehicles, ROVs have moved from the military and industrial applications into the consumer tech space, where they are commonly referred to as “underwater drones.” The PowerRay is one such drone, and in many ways, it is the standard bearer of what these devices should be.

Design

The general design of the PowerRay draws from the ROVs of old: a tethered mobile vehicle, capable of floating on or diving below the water. Its 18.6 x 10.7" body weighs approximately 7 pounds and is a combination of the traditional box frame and torpedo-shaped ROV configurations, resulting in the sea-ray-like appearance that inspired its name. On the front of the PowerRay are its camera and two adjustable LEDs; on the back are a tail LED and dual thrusters. There’s also a port on the bottom for attaching the optional fish-finder module and an additional thruster. The 210' tether runs from the top of the PowerRay to the on-land Wi-Fi Base Station, to which you connect with either the remote transmitter, your smartphone, or both. It might sound like a lot of moving parts, but the truth is, once you’re familiar with how it all works, it takes less than 30 seconds to unpack the PowerRay, fire up the app, and start submarining.

Camera

The PowerRay offers several camera modes and options that allow you to capture some pretty outstanding underwater footage. For video, you can choose from multiple resolutions and frame rates, including 4K UHD at 25 fps and 1080p HD at 60 fps. You can also snap hi-res 12MP stills. Beyond frame rates and resolutions, there are multiple shooting modes to choose from, including burst mode, slow motion, and live streaming in 1080p. The live streaming feature is particularly engrossing because it allows you to immerse yourself in an underwater FPV experience—just strap on any set of compatible VR smartphone goggles and you’ll soon be swimming with the fishes. Of course, all your footage is reliant in the surrounding water, so if it’s murky down there, the 4K camera is going to send back some 4K murk.

Performance

Camera capabilities aside, the PowerRay lives up to most of its promises. It’s easy to set up and use, handles very well, and even though 4 knots doesn’t sound very fast, the thing can really move. We didn’t get a chance to try out its fish-finding capabilities, but most users report solid performance. Battery life ranged from good to great, depending on how fast you’re driving and whether you’re constantly recording. On average, we got between one and two hours of use, which, when compared to its aerial brethren, is exceptional.

Application

One of the best things about the PowerRay is that, despite belonging to a niche category, its applications are widespread. Use it for fun, for exploration, for work, even for fishing. The numerous use cases help justify what is—let’s be honest—a not inconsequential cost.

Conclusion

Compared to many other drones in its class, the PowerRay’s performance is unquestionably superior. The camera delivers relatively crisp video footage and stills. The controls are responsive, allowing you to dive, dart, and turn on a dime. With its additional fish-finding capabilities, it serves multiple purposes. However, as excellent as the PowerRay’s performance is, some aspects are still beholden to its environment, i.e., the water. And no matter how great an underwater drone’s camera is, it can’t unmurk the water. However, if you have regular access to moderately clear bodies of water and/or are a fisherman who wants a little technological edge, then I would definitely recommend the PowerRay. If you’re looking for a consumer ROV, and it’s within your budget, the PowerRay is one of the best options out there.

Are you looking into underwater drones or ROVs? Any questions? Be sure to let us know in the Comments section, below!

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