Drones aimed at the beginner seem to be all the rage at the moment. No wonder when prices have dropped so much over the last few years, with more and more functionality being offered for the money. One such drone in this department is the Altair 818 Hornet Drone, an updated version to the popular AA108, which hit the mark with hobbyists and beginners alike.
With a great foundation to build on, let’s see what the latest version of the drone can do and if it’s worth the money.
The Altair 818 Hornet Drone comes with all the essentials you need to start flying and capturing aerial footage. This includes the drone itself, one controller, a USB charger, four propellers, a user manual, and two 3.7V batteries making it a nice affordable camera drone package.
This is not a small drone. It has dimensions of 14.4 x 14.2 x 5 inches, which is probably the reason it needs putting together when you first get it out of the box. This is a quick and easy job, only needing things like the propellers, landing gear, and camera attached. Conveniently, the box acts as a nice little carry case.
A smartphone is needed with the required app (Flyingsee by UDI Rc) for things like FPV video and basic controls. There’s a very nice card overlay for the controller pointing out what each aspect of the controller does for the drone. A very handy feature when you’re first getting started. The controller itself is simple to operate, with just enough features for basic controls.
The whole unit is made out of durable plastic with this design being more like the DJI Phantom with large, built-in propeller guards. These feel very robust and are built into the whole structure. Much-needed for those initial knocks and crashes while learning. Each propeller has its own landing light for low light flying or locating the drone at any time.
A 720p camera with a 120 degree, wide-angle view is included and hangs statically from the bottom of the drone. A 60-meter range is available using a phone or tablet and 15 minutes of flight time per battery. That’s 30 minutes in total for both batteries.
The whole thing weighs in at 2.9 pounds. Not exactly small and lightweight, but solid feeling enough to carry the camera payload and take the knocks and bruises of initial beginners flight.
Altair 818 Hornet Drone in Use
The initial set up and flight with this drone was straightforward. There are different speed modes depending on your skill level, with the lowest speed mode being the best for beginners.
There are a host of beginner-friendly modes to take on the heavy lifting for your first flights, which include the following: a Heading Hold mode points the drone in the direction you are looking, simplifying flying. One-Touch Takeoff and Landing does what it sounds like and makes it very easy to take off and land with the push of a button.
An automatic emergency landing is built-in for cases like the battery running low, with additional beeping and landing lights to prevent crashes. Altitude Hold catches smooth footage while being held at a constant height. Other features include automatic orientation adjustment aimed specifically at the beginner, allowing you to pilot the drone with ease.
One point to bear in mind with the size of this drone is that it is susceptible to wind. The large propeller guards and weight of the drone mean it’s not the most ideal for flying in windy conditions. This is a symptom of a lot of beginner drones and something to bear in mind for this type of unit.
One definite plus point is the 15 minute flight time per battery. A great feature for a budget drone and with two batteries coming with the purchase, you have a total of 30 minutes of flight time and the ability to charge one while flying at the same time. This makes capturing footage more convenient with the 720p HD wide-angle camera. The first-person video is a benefit when lining up shots from a far off distance.
The stills and video footage itself may not be broadcast quality or on a par with the likes of the DJI Mavic 2, but it’s perfectly acceptable for generic footage. As the angle of view is so wide, horizons do tend to have a curved look, but realistically you have to judge the camera as part of the whole package and you can only expect so much for the asking price. In total, a good amount of features and usability for the money.
How Does It Compare?
Initial comparisons are going to be with the original Altair AA108. The original AA108 was designed to work both indoors and outdoors and proved to be a great little unit for the beginner. It’s still a great drone in itself, but things like longer flight time, a larger camera, and the more robust chassis of the new drone could just tip the balance.
|Altair 818 Hornet||Altair Aerial AA108|
|Flight Time||15 mins per battery||8 mins per battery|
|Range||60 meters||60 meters|
The Altair 818 Hornet Drone is a clear winning upgrade to the original AA108. A redesigned chassis means more stability in flight and makes it more robust for the beginner. There are also more features that come with the new unit, but on the flip side a heavier unit is harder to control and the price point has jumped up by $50.
You are getting more for your money than from the original. The camera has been improved along with the ability to take video and stills, as well as the extended battery life. This means that you are getting a lot for your money packed into the Altair 818 Hornet. Plenty of features and a robust design make this a very appealing drone for the beginner or amateur aerial video or stills shooter.