Quadcopter cameras, which let you fly around and take cool video from strange new exotic angles, are now becoming very popular. This is mostly because the range of prices and features to choose from is growing hugely, which means you can now find something for everyone. The products at the budget end are really the most exciting though, because, like smartphones, they’re getting cheaper and cooler every day, which is good news for wannabe pilots everywhere.
We took a look at a new Syma X5C Quadcopter Camera the other day, and were blown away by how far these little budget priced craft have come in just a single year. This puppy is just $59.29 (£37.97) to buy, and yet performs brilliantly as a flyer indoors and out.
The quad comes in a nice looking box, along with the control unit, spare props, prop guards (nice touch), the usual USB battery charger for the 500mAh battery pack. There’s also a handy little microSD card reader which you can use to move the video over to your computer of portable device for later viewing, and the product also comes with a 2 GB microSD card included. Everything’s ready to use and there’s no major configurations you need to do, except a quick calibration by turning. Then you’re ready to run.
The new quad has been updated with 2.4GHz radio control, and it really makes a huge difference to the stability and responsiveness of the craft in the air. While previous versions had the same kind of erratic reputation that we’ve found with other budget quadcopters, this model is silky smooth indoors and offers the kind of stable flying that you’d expect only with much more expensive products. Credit must also go to the 6 axis stabilization system, which really is remarkable. It’s almost hands-off steady. Check out our video below to see what we mean.
As you might expect from a budget product like this, there’s not really a lot of high quality involved in the materials. So the controller is quite spartan, with some cheap looking fake buttons, and that slightly dodgy fake chrome plastic, but once you get over that, you’ll find a rather nicely designed product all round. For example, we really like the fact that the quad has an on-off switch, which you don’t even find on the more expensive quads sometimes. The dual mode camera and battery compartment is also a nice touch, and we’ve already mentioned that we like the fact they’ve included prop guards in the box as standard. These are nice touches.
There are also a number of nice touches on the controller. The LCD screen gives a useful live reading of battery life in the quad and the controller itself, and the control levers are really nicely responsive. This means you can get used to the flight characteristics in a few minutes even if you’re not that familiar with quadcopters, which is great for beginners. Let’s make it clear though, that this is not as totally beginner friendly as a Parrot Bebop, but then again there’s a $600 price difference between the two!
The other important thing about a flying camera is of course, the camera footage quality. Here again you get what you pay for. The 2 megapixel camera delivers a surprisingly good result, we were definitely impressed by how sharp the focus was, and how well th lens handled low and patchy light conditions. You can see this in our test video above. The still images however leave a little to be desired, with lots of noise and pretty bad aberations. It’s a shame, but for some reason video on budget products is typically much better than still images nowadays, so we weren’t that surprised. It’s also nice that the video will play easily on your computer or smart device (although you may need to install an .avi player on your phone or tablet).
We went into this review not expecting very much at all out of a product this cheap, but it really surprised us. The flight time is claimed at 7 minutes per 90 minute charge, and we found that to be pretty accurate. The only really issues we had were flying outside in a somewhat strong wind, which made flight time and control really patchy, so we recommend that you only fly outside on very calm days. Our conclusion is if you’re looking for a budget quadcopter to learn on, or to enjoy as a second quad, then this should definitely be on your list. Nice!
Price: $59.29 (£37.97)
Camera Pixel: 200W
Video Time: About 30 min
Photos : About 800 pictures
Memory Card : 2GB
Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Li-poly
Battery for controller: 4 “AA” batteries( not included)
Charging Time: About 100 mins(USB charging)
Flying time: 5-8minutes
Controlling Distance: About 50 meters