I received a SYMA X5C Explorers drone for my birthday. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.
All the positive elements of the drone.
At roughly $50, this drone really does not cost much at all, especially compared to other quadcopters on the market. Even with extra blades and batteries, my entire order was under $75. That’s nowhere near the hundreds or thousands that I hear of people paying for more powerful drones. I could buy and crash several SYMA quadcopters before I even come close to the price of a DJI or other high quality drone.
Ease of Flight
While more advanced quadcopters have complicated interfaces and control schemes that require quite the learning curve, the SYMA drone is extremely straightforward. The left stick controls throttle and left/right turns. The right stick controls tilt in any direction. The shoulder buttons allow the drone to flip in whatever direction it is currently tilted. Small sliders near the sticks allow for fine trim adjustment, and the vertical slider on the left allows you to start and stop recording video. There is a small LCD display to show controller battery life, throttle level, and what I believe to be the status of the 4 props (not entirely sure about that).
Syncing the controller and drone is super easy. You flip the switch on the drone, push the slider on the controller, push the throttle all the way up, and then back all the way down. The lights on the drone flash to indicate what state of sync it’s in, and it produces audible beeps when pushing the throttle up and down. I’ve only had an issue with syncing once, and that’s because I wasn’t aware the drone prefers to be upright on a level surface before syncing. Power cycled a few times and it worked like a charm.
Everything negative about the drone.
While the price is one of the best things about the drone, the build quality is arguably one of the worst. It looks and feels impossibly flimsy. Obviously, it has to be lightweight to be able to fly, but something can be lightweight and not feel like I might break it by looking at it too hard. The battery housing fits snug, but can easily flop open if you bump into something when flying. My wife accidentally broke the included USB charger, just by trying to detach a battery. Luckily, I bought an additional charger that can charge up to 4 batteries at once. I haven’t yet broken the drone in a few weeks of flying, but I won’t be surprised when I do finally destroy a prop or some other piece of it.
No ActionCam Support
ActionCams like the GoPro have blown up in recent years, but sadly the SYMA drone is incompatible with them. The drone is so small that any extra weight is too much for it to handle, as light as these cameras might be. It does have a mounted camera included, but it cannot be removed or replaced as far as I’ve been able to find.
While the included camera claims to be HD, the quality really isn’t that good. I have some footage on my YouTube channel, but it really isn’t impressive. While you *could* use the drone to record stunt footage and the like, I wouldn’t advise it. The audio is completely dominated by the loud whir of the props, the video quality is mediocre, and there isn’t any sort of gimbal for stabilization so it shakes when you tilt the drone.
The SYMA X5C is a fun drone that you can get for cheap, giving a small investment option for learning how to fly a quadcopter. At the $50 price point, it’s nearly disposable and reasonably the best seller in Amazon’s “Hobby RC Quadcopter & Multirotors” category. It has a camera included, but the quality isn’t anything to write home about. It’s great if you just want an RC quadcopter to play with, but don’t expect anywhere near the power or features of more expensive drones.
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