Here's the challenge. You're out in the field, in some pretty harsh conditions and you need save photos from the SD Card in your camera, copy some essential files from your laptop to ensure there's a backup and get photos or files off your smartphone. In the past, doing that without a laptop, an external hard drive and a bunch of cables and dongles was a pain in the butt. But the LaCie DJI Copilot gives you a PC-free way of copying essential files.
What Is It?
The DJI Copilot is a ruggedised hard drive with USB-A, USB-C, micro-USB and SD Card interfaces. It comes with a bunch of cables so there's no need to mess about with extra bits and pieces you need to source. The unit shipped with
- Power adaptor with international adaptors
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- USB-C to USB-C cable
- USB-C to micro-USB cable
- USB-A to micro-USB cable
- Micro-USB to micro-USB cable
- Lightning to micro-USB cable
- micro-SD to SD adaptor
As well as packing a hard drive for storage, it has a battery so it can be used to charge other devices.
In order to use the DJI Copilot with a mobile device, you'll need to install an app from either the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.
|Size and weight||136 x 111 x 36mm, 534g|
|Connectivity||USB-A, USB-C, micro-USB, SD card|
|Works with||Tablets and smartphones running iOS 10.3 or Android 4.4 or later, PCs running Windows 10 or macOS 10.10 or later with an available USB-C (3.1), Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0, or USB 2.0 port|
Like many LaCie drives, the DJI Copilot has been designed by Neil Poulton. It looks similar to the LaCie Rugged SECURE Drive I looked at a while ago but has a more subdued grey rubberised casing rather than the more garish orange LaCie often favours.
When you walk into retail store to buy an external hard drive, there are dozens of options to choose from. And there's always the option of buying a hard drive or SSD and putting together your own. So, manufacturers have to find ways to add value to what is a reasonably straightforward device you can rig up yourself. LaCie's answer is the Rugged SECURE. As the name suggests, it combines with physical and logical security features.
All of the ports are easily accessible once a protective panel is removed. The design of the casing, the cover and the supplied cable means you can connect your portable device to the DJI Copilot, put the protective cover over the ports and keep using the device. It's a neat bit of design that lets you keep the water, dust and other pollutants out of the drive while you're out and about.
There's just one storage option with the DJI Copilot; 2TB. But that should be enough for most people when they're away from the office.
My first test was copying a folder of images from an iPhone to the DJI Copilot and then opening them for editing on my laptop. The folder of 64 photos took just a few seconds to copy using the supplied micro-USB to Lightning cable. And if you're only going to use one of the LaCie supplied cables it folds neatly into the body of the unit and is protected by the water- and dust-proof cover.
I was then able to easily access the images on my laptop using the USB-C to USB-C cable that was also in the box.
I had a similar experience with SD card from a couple of different cameras. However, copying from an SD card requires that you use the Action Button to either confirm or cancel copying, A short press is a "Yes" while a longer press means "Cancel".
The battery in the DJI Copilot can change either over USB-C connected to a computer or using the supplied power adaptor. You can charge it using USB-C and hooking that up to a USB-C power supply you have.
Pressing the action button activates a display that is cleverly integrated into the top of the hard drive casing. It's easy to read in most conditions - I didn't have any problems reading it outdoors in bright sunlight
You do need to be a little patient with the DJI Copilot. It can take quite a few seconds for the device to react when you connect a new device or insert a card.
You'll also need to be careful with the cover that protects the ports. It's not connected to the main unit in any way. While it's not small, if you're perched somewhere copying files from a card to the DJI Copilot, it could be easily dropped and lost.
The inability to charge the DJI Copilot using your own USB-C charger is also a bit of a pain. Given so many devices use USB-C these days, having to use a specific charger means you're carrying one extra piece of kit. And while you can charge using a laptop, that takes about 12 hours whereas using the supplied adapter cuts that to three.
Should You Buy It
The use-case for the DJI Copilot is quite specific. It really is made for a niche group of users who need a ruggedised storage device and battery pack. And, as its made with those specific needs in mind, it's priced at the premium end of the market.
The recommended price is $559. However, you can find it for a little less if you shop around.
We've spotted the LaCie DJI Copilot for $519 and if you use the discount code PWOMBAT you can bring that to $469.
At that price, it's more reasonable.
If you're looking for a ruggedised drive, that doubles up as a battery pack and can backup data from multiple sources wherever you are, then the DJI Copilot is worth considering.