The Altair Aerial AA108 is a drone aimed at the beginners market for those on a budget, but it doesn’t necessarily have basic features. There’s plenty packed into this drone to make it the ideal starter package, with decent build quality, a built-in camera, and plenty of flight features.
The other standout feature is that the drone is made by Altair, based in Nebraska. This is counter to most of the Chinese made drones on the market. Not that Chinese made products are a bad thing, but having a domestically made product of good quality, always stands out.
From initial observation, the Altair Aerial AA108 is a well-made product constructed from tough, ABS plastic. Although the dimensions are small at 183mm x 198mm x 43mm and it weighs only 85g, the body feels sturdy enough to take a few knocks and bruises during initial flights. A 720p HD camera with a 120-degree view sits at the front of the drone, with propeller guards on both sides.
The full package contains everything you need to get started. A controller, propellers plus extras, two 3.7v LiPo batteries, a few tools, memory card reader, direction book, and a USB connector. The drone has a flight time of eight to ten minutes for each battery charge and a range of up to 100m.
The remote control is simple to use and has everything built-in needed to fly. There’s also a latch on top of the controller for holding a smartphone for first-person view.
Simple buttons are used for on/off, headless hold mode, and takeoff and landing. There’s also a nice card overlay for the controller, which highlights what each function performs. Very handy for initial flights.
As many people will be buying this drone not just for its beginner capabilities, but also for the camera, means that it has to be of reasonable quality. The forward-facing, 720p HD camera can take stills or video footage which is fine for candid shots, but as there is no built-in stabilization or gimbal, you don’t get stabilized footage.
However, sharpness and colors are reasonable and will at least give you an initial impression of aerial footage. In other words, you have to factor in the quality of footage you get at this price point of camera drone, which isn’t broadcast quality, but good enough for the price.
Altair Aerial AA108 in Use
As with many budget drones these days, there’s built-in facilities for not just a beginner, but more advanced flyers. There are three basic flying modes for beginners to advanced users, which change settings for the speed and agility of the drone. Basically, starting off flying slowly and then with more skill and confidence, you can get into the more advanced flight features.
There’s also a one-button takeoff and landing feature, which linked with the altitude hold feature is a great way to first get the drone in the air and gain flight confidence. There’s also a facility for an audible sound when the battery gets low on power, so you can fly the drone home or it will simply land itself when it is running out of power.
Other basic flight features include a Headless Hold mode which allows you to fly the drone from your own orientation. This is basically an easier way to fly for the beginner, rather than predicting the drone’s own position.
There’s custom route mapping which allows you to draw a route for the drone to follow. This is also a great included feature to initially show how the drone reacts and flies depending on the weather conditions.
On the initial flight, the Altair Aerial AA108 is very easy to control with the automated flight features. Basic altitude hold helps you tentatively move the drone around until you gain confidence and then build to more confident flying patterns.
Hooking the controller up to the smartphone app is simple and straightforward and provides a worthwhile FPV feed. This is also a small drone, which means it needs more or less ideal weather conditions to fly, but can cope with the odd gust of wind, due to the built-in stability features.
How Does It Compare?
For just a few hundred dollars, there are quite a few drone options on the market. Some better than others, but one in particular, that gets a lot of attention is the Force1 U45W Blue Jay. This is a quality made drone that has a 720p HD camera with arguably better stability of footage.
The Blue Jay feels like a more robust unit, with its dedicated landing gear and slightly larger frame and also lets you progress from beginner to more advanced flying, with more advanced features and similar price.
|Altair Aerial AA108||Force1 U45W Blue Jay|
|Camera||720p HD||720p HD|
|Automated flight Controls||Yes||Yes|
|Flight Time||10 minutes||8 minutes|
Overall, you cannot fault the Altair Aerial AA108 for its basic features, beginner-friendly approach, and reasonable camera. The FPV feed is a fun way to view your drone’s environment and the built-in flight features make initial flight very easy. Also, features like the low battery and out of range warnings are great additions along with the custom route mapping.
However, the package isn’t completely perfect. GPS would have been nice, stabilization added to the camera, and a few extra automated flight controls would have rounded off the package. Also, dedicated buttons for recording video and switching features on and off may be something that comes with the updated editions.
Overall, the Altair Aerial AA108 has everything in the package for beginner to get an initial hang of flying a camera drone and capturing their first footage. You can then progress up to more advanced flying features without buying into a more expensive unit. In total, a quality made product and at a reasonable price point.