I have always considered the market of drones very interesting consumer, especially until I had one of my own: it's a very interesting world, certainly not a must have device that I would recommend to anyone, but if you are a lover of photography, video editing and nerdery in general, then without a doubt I advise you to approach this world full of surprises and fun.
The latest innovation that I happened to try is called HoverAir X1, and it is anything but a traditional drone: it practically fits in the palm of your hand, and does not follow the usual logic of drones that can be piloted at will which, on the contrary, require a bit of skill in use. This is a selfie drone, and its essence is contained precisely in this definition.
HoverAir X1 review: the photographic drone that fits in the palm of your hand
Design and Materials
Ok, what I noticed at first glance is the extreme care taken in creating the packaging: impeccable on every front, every single aspect is cared for carefully and the various dimensions studied down to the millimetre. As for the product, however, I noticed a bit of fragility, but let me explain better.
Aesthetically speaking, it is made entirely of plastic, white in colour, and has a square shape when completely opened: the propellers are well protected by a grill both above and below, and it is precisely this part that appears most fragile at first glance, although appears to be perfectly adequate for the solution. A device so small, despite the presence of four propellers, it needs to be as light as possible, which is why it is clear that the company had to make some choices.
Its "rest" position, however, allows you to close the wing section and store it comfortably in your pocket with a very small footprint as well as a unique lightness; L'HoverAir X1 it is meticulously engineered, because it is clear that every single detail is in the right place, starting from the battery housing in the upper part, up to the precise and impeccable closing mechanism.
On the right side the company has inserted a USB-C connector for charging of the battery; in our bundle received for testing there is also a second additional battery and a charging base, should you want to recharge them both at the same time. On the front, however, the main heart of this little game appears HoverAir, or the camera complete with Gimbal that records photos and videos which I will tell you about shortly.
At the top, then, the company has two buttons: the first is used to turn on, off and start the device, while the other allows you to move between the 6 photo and video acquisition modes present, since the flight of the drone is automatic and regulated by this button. Finally, underneath there are three sensors that allow the drone to take off and land directly on the palm of the hand.
Performance and methods of use
La managing the drone proved to be incredibly intuitive, extremely different from the experience you would have flying a real drone. Here you simply turn it on with a long press of the main button and select a flight mode, just by tapping the smaller button. As I anticipated, there are six modes of use and each of these is characterized by a different type of movement of the drone which, consequently, will record a different video.
There is no need to remember the actual mode, since a voice will communicate your choice, although everything happens only in English or Chinese language. Once we have identified the mode we are interested in, a short press of the power button while holding the drone with the camera pointed towards your eyes is sufficient to start the flight.
During the correct phase of flight, the light under the camera lens turns red, signaling that recording has started. I spoke to you at the beginning about drone selfies because, in fact, HoverAir X1 it follows you through its main camera and artificial intelligence, without the need for manual guidance or other sensors.
Each command behaves as a single action, after which the drone is ready to return: as for the start, even to stop the drone it will be necessary to place the hand on the lower part again to make it land on the palm. Don't worry, it's a perfectly safe operation given the insulation of the propellers, so all you really have to do is open your hand and wait for landing.
I obviously used the drone outdoors, where despite the presence of a bit of wind, it performed rather well. The indoor performance, however, they do not exactly reach expectations, firstly because the sensor requires a little light to recognize the face and function, and secondly because the various modes of use allow the drone to rise up to 5-6 meters high. height, which I don't recommend you try indoors for obvious reasons, especially because the drone does not have anti-crash sensors, so if you encounter obstacles you could damage it irreparably.
Il manual flight it is only unlocked after at least 5 attempts and requires using the app on your phone to control. Intriguingly, the on-screen control layout is vertical, not horizontal, which may seem unusual, but is a sensible choice for a short-range device like this. Again via the smartphone app you can follow and monitor each flight, as well as post your content on the company's community, make updates, learn from tutorials and much more.
Furthermore, the drone has a 1050 mAh rechargeable battery, which cannot be inserted larger due to the weight of only 125 grams; in any case, the autonomy is on average about 10 minutes, not very much to be honest, but in the drone sector even the largest and most expensive models do not really exceed 30 minutes of use.
In this regard the camera integrated on this HoverAir What I can tell you, first of all, is that it has a good system single axis stabilization, a mix of mechanical and electronic technology that allows you to obtain stable videos in any context.
The camera shoots in MP4 and JPEG format and has a length fixed focal length of 19 mm as well as an f/2.4 aperture, so nothing exceptional, but the bitrate which varies between 30 and 50 kbps makes it more competitive. Photos are sharp with a resolution of 4000 x 3000 pixels; sure, it's only 12 megapixels, but, like a good cell phone camera, each pixel has its own detail and you don't find yourself suspecting that the sensor actually has a lower resolution.
Honestly speaking the quality of the photos left me surprised, and almost made me doubt my DJI Mini 3 that I personally own. Even the videos, which can be recorded at a maximum of 2,7K, are comparable in quality to the Mini series drone.
Price and Considerations
At the time I am writing this article, and until December 20th, a promotion is active on the company's official website which discounts theHoverAir X1 in Combo version (therefore with two batteries and an extra charger) for only 379 dollars, therefore poco less than 350 euros. Among the primary reasons why you should buy this drone, I can certainly mention its size and the fact that it does not require knowledge or authorization from any body to fly practically anywhere.
If you are a beginner and are looking for a product to take some selfies while on holiday, or some small souvenir videos, then it represents the ideal solution, even better than a traditional drone. If, however, you need a product that allows you to fly long range, get cinematic shots and you are willing to practice, a lot of practice, then you could focus on DJI's Mini series.
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