I’ve had this puppy for a year now and it’s time for a review!
The Hubsan X4 is a series of compact quadcopters that come in a few different varieties. The one up for review today is the simplest model with a built in standard definition camera, called the H107C. There is also one without camera (H107L), one with an updated HD (“HD”) camera and one FPV version.
What’s in the box?!
Everything you need is included!
- Quadcopter (duh)
- Remote controller
- Blades protection cover (for newbie/indoor flying)
- Extra set of blades
- Blade detach tool
- 1 battery, 380mAh LiPO
- USB cable (for charging)
The quadcopter is fairly simple in it’s design. The only moving parts are the rotor blades on top. The battery is inserted into a slot in the back of the copter, but there isn’t really any way to secure it. This hasn’t proven to be an issue though, as it sits quite snug in the slot. The cable connecting the battery and the copter on the other hand is pretty awkward. There doesn’t seem to be a proper way to secure it out of the way, but twisting it and squeezing it under the cover seems to do the trick most of the time. Alternatively, you could just leave it flapping in the breeze, but it might affect airflow.
There are LED:s at the ends of the arms, the front ones colored blue and the back ones red, to help orientation in dimly lit or dark situations. The blades follow this pattern as well, with the front ones being black and the back ones being a color of your choice (currently red, green or white, depending on model).
The wireless controller comes jam-packed with features. You have the regular controls; two thumbsticks for controlling tilt, spin and elevation, so all movement basically. They can be configured in two different modes, surprisingly enough called MODE 1 and MODE 2. The one I’m using means controlling tilt (moving in a direction) with the left stick, while the right one controls spin (turning) and elevation (going up and down). This works very well, and is basically all one uses. The controller can also toggle LED lights on the copter, toggle the so-called “expert mode”, which basically let’s you to sharper turns, and finally both thumbsticks have fine-tuning controls that you can tune if the copter doesn’t level properly. Generally, it is enough to use the builtin quick calibration feature which runs every time the copter starts up or when you trigger it from the controller. Did I mention that the controller has a display that neatly displays all these settings and values?
The controller has a really nice range. It is specified to 100m (330 feet), which is enough to make it hard to see in the distance, so really, the limiting factor is visual range. A 100 meters may not sound like much, but when you fly that high straight up in the air it’s hard to stay unimpressed.
You can’t review the H107C model without talking about the built-in camera. It’s a fairly low resolution (720×480) camera that outputs video onto the micro sd card, which is inserted just below the battery. To start filming one has to press a button on the side of the copter, so unfortunately it can’t be controlled from the wireless controller. Like mentioned, the camera has pretty low resolution, but what is worse is the field of view. For some reason they didn’t go for a fish-eye on it, which makes the video seem extra shaky and zoomed in. It is also slightly tilted downwards, so normally what you get video of is the floor or everything just below the horizon line if you’re flying outdoors. To summarize, the camera is probably the weakest part of this copter.
Handling & Performance
I didn’t expect too much when I ordered it. Obviously it looks to perform very well when you check it out on YouTube, but I had a hunch that the people flying it had had a lot of practice to be able to fly that precise. Generally speaking, small and cheap flying machines are about as easy to fly as balancing ruler on your pinky. To my surprise this was not the case. Of course, you won’t be doing flips and zooming around obstacles five minutes after unboxing, but if you’re careful you might not even crash it the first few flights (that is, unless you get adventurous!).
The Hubsan X4 does not favor windy environments. Of course this rings true for all aviation, but especially so for the X4. While it seems fast zipping around your back lawn, it isn’t really a match for the stronger winds which can easily carry it away. I know this because I’ve crawled around my fair share of forest floors looking for it. One of the more notable cases was when I was flying it in my back yard and I decided to go a bit higher. As soon as it went over the house roof, I learned that the house had been protecting us against the wind. It was swiftly carried away, and there was nothing I could to as the tiny motors tried to fight the wind, and eventually I gave up and let it crash before it went completely out of sight.
As with all flying machines, when things go wrong they tend to go very wrong. The only quick way down is the hard way down. So this is clearly an important factor deciding upon purchase. Thankfully, the Hubsan X4 is pretty near indestructible. Of course, the blades quickly take a beating if you run into things, so expect to change them every so often. Surprisingly though, I’m still using the original blades, and with some dents and scratches they still seem to work fine.
The legs are built for breaking, which freaked me out the first time. What does that mean you wonder? Well, the legs (on which the rotors sit) are built so that they snap in a controlled manner if they experience too much stress, such as when smashing into the pavement. What happens is that they snap out of place, and you have to snap them back. Even here though, sometimes you won’t notice that it has happened as it only affects flying performance slightly.
The availability of aftermarket parts is simply great, and they’re usually dirt cheap. Personally, I’ve ordered a handful of extra blades and 4-way charger including four 500mAh batteries. The last one there is a life-saver. As mentioned, the included battery drains awfully fast when you’re out having fun, so it’s great to have replacement batteries that (in theory) lasts about 30% longer (so in practice about a minute). They’re not impeccable though. First of all they’re a bit longer, which make them stick out a bit. I haven’t noticed any problems affecting handling of the copter due to this, though. The second and a bit more annoying issue is that they’re a bit thinner than the original battery. This makes it to slip out during crashes or hard accelerations. This issue can be resolved with some tape.
If you feel that I’ve left something out or something to comment on, feel free to comment on the post!