As technology moves forward in the drone world, high-end features start to trickle down to the budget-friendly models. This means smarter and easier to control units are popping up all the time. It’s really quite remarkable. Today, you can buy a budget level drone which features loads of automatic flight modes, decent quality camera, and a reasonable amount of flying time for not much money.
The Amcrest A4-W Skyview is one such budget drone which has a lot of features crammed into one package. A taste of the higher-end units, quality features, and a way to practice your flying skills without breaking the bank. You cannot really argue with the price point, but is this unit still worth buying in such a competitive niche?
Straight out of the box the Amcrest A4-W Skyview has an air of quality. There’s definitely some DJI Mavic influence in the design, which isn’t a bad thing as it’s one of the go-to drones in the modern era. The tough ABS plastic body and prop protectors should go a long way to take a few knocks and crashes in the learning phase. The other big part is a built-in 720p HD camera.
Included in the box are the drone itself, a wireless controller, spare propellers, a USB charging cable, and the user manual. Specifications for the built-in camera are 720p @30fps video with a 1.3-megapixel camera. There’s also a microSD card slot to store all image data, which can hold up to 32 GB. The wireless controller is 2.4Ghz with a six-axis built-in gyro. The range is 100m with a seven minute flight time.
This thing is also quite small with the dimensions being 6.9×6.9×1.6 inches. The battery is a modularized version, which basically means protection from overcharging along with better flight times and performance. The flight range is reasonable and while the seven minutes flight time may not seem like much, it is the rough standard in this price range.
Amcrest A4-W Skyview in Use
For such a small drone, you would think the Amcrest A4-W Skyview would get blown away in a small gust of wind and would possess only the most basic of features. This drone on initial impression is definitely more stable than expected and flies with precision. It’s also quick to react to control movements.
There is a tiered speed mode so you can ramp up the speed as you progress. The default setting is on the slowest speed, which means basic flight controls can be learned in a manageable way. Once you get the basics down, you can start to ramp up the speed, which is also a great way of pushing against any strong winds. Not that you should be flying a drone of this size in any strong wind conditions, but a bit of extra speed never hurt.
The other benefit of having such a small drone is that it can be flown indoors. Not recommended in the house, but if you have access to a large indoor area, then this is a definite advantage.
The remote controller has basic features, but this is an advantage to the beginner. Just enough controls for everything you need, but not completely overwhelming. The two main levers control the movements, altitude, and rotation, with two trim buttons on each lever to fine-tune the flying experience.
The buttons can also be used for different flying functions. Additionally, to expand the functionality of the controller, there is a built-in mount for a smartphone, which can use the Amcrest drone app. This isn’t just for previewing video footage, but also for basic flight information.
As the drone is clearly aimed at the beginners market, you need as much help as possible to get liftoff. Various flight modes are key in this department not only for ease of flying, but also to give initial confidence.
Altitude hold is included which holds the drone steady when hovering. Headless mode basically switches the control orientation from what the drone sees to the remote controller. In other words, the drone will fly in the direction you are pushing the movement lever. An easy way for beginners to get the hang of the flight controls. Other handy features include a one key return which brings your drone home automatically and a 360-degree stunt flip function to impress the neighbors.
As for image quality, the 1.3-megapixel camera is really only good enough for generic aerial shots, but the 720p camera is much better in quality, providing reasonable footage. Just remember, the camera is part of a budget package, which means you will get aerial footage, but it’s not going to be in the ballpark of a $1,000 unit. So, you should treat this drone as a beginner’s unit and a steppingstone, which just so happens to grab you video footage at the same time.
How Does It Compare?
This end of the market is highly competitive. It can be just one or two features that make the difference, not including price. This includes the Snaptain S5C drone, which has a nice 3-D view mode, enabling you to put your smartphone in VR glasses for a first-person view. Add into this gesture controls and a longer flight time and you have a nice offering for not much more money.
|Amcrest A4-W Skyview||Snaptain S5C|
|Camera||720p @30fps||720p @30fps|
|Flight Time||7 minutes||15 minutes|
For the beginner who is looking for an easy to use drone which doesn’t cost a fortune, the Amcrest A4-W Skyview definitely fits the bill. It’s well built, has a reasonable amount of functionality, and acts as an easy way to get into drone flight. The flight modes help as fantastic training aids and the build is rugged enough to take some of the initial knocks and bruises.
However, it’s not all plain sailing or should I say flight for the drone. The battery life isn’t great in comparison to the drone above, it only needs one extra tasty feature to swing customers the other way. Still, the Amcrest A4-W Skyview is a very good drone for the money and will serve you well as your first drone.