This article was originally published in the October/November 2016 issue of The Drones Magazine.
By Mike Steidley
Let’s take a look at the new HPRC 2700W PHA4COMBO, a new setup which combines the 2700W hard case with custom foam and a soft case that converts into a backpack. With this combo, you get the beneﬁts of a crush proof case with wheels. Perfect for life on set, airline travel or when you really need protection. The foam quickly shifts into the backpack, allowing you to convert your setup in seconds to a pack ready for hiking and exploring. Packaged at an attractive price, you get the beneﬁts of two products in one.
The Phantom 4 is an extremely popular drone. It’s loaded with new features and everyone is trying to get their hands on one, as well as companies oﬀering up new accessories to go with it. Will the HPRC case hold up to real world use? Will the product really serve dual duty and oﬀ er a solution for both airline travel and a backpack in one? Let’s dive in and ﬁnd out.
Distributor: B & H Photo
THE CASE — BUILT TO LAST:
The HPRC case is manufactured in Italy and is crush proof and watertight. For those who don’t know, HPRC has been making cases for years and oﬀers many types of foam solutions. From injection foam to custom milled and water cutting they have a grasp on making protection for multiple applications. I was impressed with the way the pressure valve is designed. They use a purge valve that works extremely well and can handle heavy airline travel and pressure change. The valve, called AirEx, claims to be faster than most other competitors and I certainly believe it. Unlike some cases that have O rings or seals that need to be removed for travel or valves that need to be adjusted to regulate pressure this one does everything on its own. It also remains waterproof and dust proof while doing so. When you have a big shoot with endless details on your mind you don’t want to be thinking about a pressure valve.
The wheels of the case are very durable and certainly heavy duty. You can tell they are built for the long haul and can be wheeled forever without fear of the wheel cracking or a bearing going. The case has large handles on the sides with a tiny splash of red on them to give the case a sleek look. The retractable pull handle does its job when you need to roll the case and catch a ﬂight or wheel on to a location. One of my favorite features is the clear ID holder on the outside. This may not seem like a selling point, but those silly airline tags somehow always work oﬀ the case handles. The one time the airline looses your luggage will be the time the bag ID ticket is lost as well, making it harder to locate for you. This is a nice touch that shows HPRC had a road warrior in mind when designing the case. The resin material seems incredibly resilient. Stand on it, stack things up, abuse it on set or whatever else you can think of as this case will take it. Let’s move on to the inside and layout.
THE FOAM AND THE LAYOUT:
When I ﬁrst opened the case I was really impressed with the layout and design of the foam. The foam really holds everything in securely and oﬀers ample protection for your gear. Beginning at the center, the spot that holds the Phantom 4 forms a perfect ﬁt. A side notch in the foam allows you to keep the gimbal lock on and shows they took every detail into account. A small cutout protects the back of the gimbal and has small storage for either a cable or lens pen and wipes. You can leave the props on with this layout which is convenient and time saving. Should you decide to remove your props the copter still has a snug ﬁt and the top of the case will not put any harmful pressure on the props. There is a deep cavity to the front of the case which holds all your props.
You can easily ﬁt two sets and possibly extra if you utilize your space. Even without over-packing you can get one set on the bird and two backup sets, which is practical when packing for long ﬁlm trips. There is a custom cutout for the P4 charger and cables to hold you charger in place. Directly above that space is one of my favorite details, a spot to hold three ﬁlters while keeping them close at hand. This is highly functional and you can ﬁt both DJI brand and other Polar Pro style ﬁlters in the foam. There is a decent cutout to allow you some room to reach the ﬁlters without getting ﬁngerprints on them, yet they still stay in place very well. A small cavity for the ﬁrmware updating cables sits to the lower left and in the opposite corner on the top right there is a spot for a memory card case. When you purchase the combo kit they give you a small memory card case that can hold several micro SD cards. This is really beneﬁcial if you are shooting on multiple ﬁlm tools and need to bring your cards to your editing suite and back up ﬁles. Having them in a case always ensures they stay safe and do not get lost in the mix of a busy shoot.
The case then oﬀers ﬁve dedicated battery spaces, however, if you keep one inside the Phantom you can have a total of six batteries. One of the battery slots removes to form an extra cavity for additional accessories. This promises you can truly ﬁt everything you need into one case. A designated place for the controller and a tablet holder that can ﬁt a 10-inch tablet round things out nicely. The layout and functionality of the HPRC case is highly impressive. Weighing in at about nineteen pounds it’s a bit lighter than some of the other options out there, which is a nice touch when you need to carry gear in after a long day of shooting.
Here is where it gets interesting with the new HPRC case. They supply a backpack that allows you to simply take the foam and entire case setup and drop it into a canvas style pack to become highly mobile. Unlike other backpacks, this one uses the same foam from the case and delivers a super compact ﬁt. This gives you added protection and makes for a backpack that can deﬁnitely hold things in place. Since the foam comes right from the case all your gear is in the exact same spot so you don’t have to worry if you packed everything. You can even load up your vehicle with the drone in the hard case and swap to the backpack on site. HPRC provides a drawstring bag to place the backpack in to keep things tidy. The process takes a minute to switch and is very seamless, with foam and pack you are looking at about ﬁve pounds of weight. The backpack also oﬀers two side pockets for miscellaneous things like car keys and other odds and ends. A clever idea to oﬀ er a product that does dual duty and protects your copter and valuable accessories.
The retail price on the HPRC 2700W PHA4COMBO comes in at around $314 for the case, foam, backpack and memory card holder … a great value for the fact that it gives you every type of coverage that you could want. If you purchased a case and backpack separately from a competitor you would be at almost double the cost. Grab a great product from HPRC and save some money for an extra battery or a trip somewhere breathtaking to go ﬂ ying. For more information visit the following: