It never ceases to amaze me how cost-effective camera drones have become of late. If you’re just getting started in this arena, the cost of entry has never been better, with lots of fully-featured drones readily available. One such model is the Eachine E520S, which strives to bring all the functionality of more expensive units into a cost-effective package.
This S version of the drone is a slight update to the previous model, which still provides 4K camera functionality with slightly upgraded features. A decent bang-for-your-buck purchase is one thing, but can this drone also deliver in all departments?
The Eachine E520S has clearly taken more than a few design hints from the top Mavic drones. Copying these design principles is no bad thing, as the Mavic units became so popular for being straightforward and easy-to-use flyers. In the same way, the Eachine E520S is an affordable, portable quadcopter, with the propeller arms and blades neatly folding into the body for easy transportation and storage. When the unit is folded down, it measures 5.90×4.33×2.95 inches and weighs in at 280g, meaning it will need to be registered with the FAA.
The drone’s exterior is made from tough but flexible ABS plastic, with brushed coreless motors. The whole package contains a remote control that can be used with a smartphone, a 1200mAh 7.4V battery, spare propellers, screwdriver, covers, a user manual, and (obviously) the drone.
The 4K Camera has 5G Wi-Fi connectivity, with a 120-degree, wide-angle viewpoint. The camera is in a fixed position underneath the drone, but the wide-angle view should suffice for most locations. The camera can also transmit footage from up to 250m away, which can all be stored on an SD card up to a 128GB capacity.
If you want to enjoy a FPV experience, an app needs to be downloaded to a compatible smartphone. From there, it’s easy enough to collect footage when it’s fitted to the retractable smartphone holder on the remote control. If you want to go fully immersive, there are optional VR glasses available.
The battery that comes with the drone can be easily removed, which means you can buy a bunch of spares to extend flight time. Each battery provides roughly 16 minutes of flight time and takes between 120-150 minutes to fully charge up. The 2.4GHz remote control is a basic unit and runs off 4 AAA batteries, which you will have to buy separately.
For such a cost-effective drone, it comes with plenty of automated flight features that provide a good helping hand for both the beginner and the experienced pilot. The GPS positioning tracks the flight path in real time and with the touch of a button, the drone can be instantly brought home.
The Way Point mode allows the user to draw a route on the map provided with the smartphone app. The drone will then follow that exact route on full autopilot. The Follow Me mode can lock onto a subject and follow its movements, speeding up or slowing down in tandem. Altitude Hold keeps the drone in a static vertical position, so you only have to worry about moving the drone horizontally. Orbit mode allows the user to choose a point of interest, which the drone will then circle around. You can choose the radius in midflight, without getting too close or far away from a subject.
There are also modes for auto takeoff and landing, along with a headless mode, which orientates the drone in one direction. This mode is also useful in low-light conditions.
The Eachine E520S in Use
This drone is very easy to set up and start flying with. Once the smartphone app is loaded and connects with the drone, the automated flight features can quickly take over. The motors are very quiet and don’t overheat. The majority of the time, only the sound of the propellers is heard.
The automated flight features perform as intended, making the initial flight a breeze. The drone is also very reactive to movements, so it will take some practice to keep the drone in one static position. The learning curve is shorter than expected, which means you can quickly make the most advantage of its 15-minute flight time. The six-axis gyro seems to go a long way to keep the unit steadily on track in flight.
The camera on the drone is rated at 4K, but it’s not to the same quality as the top 4K drones out there. However, the footage captured is well-stabilized and, although not broadcast quality, sufficient for candid or general output.
How Does It Compare?
The Ruko U11 drone provides a similar fold-up design to the Eachine, but in this case, it provides a 2K video output with 4K still images. The Ruko also features GPS, with a 300m range, a slightly longer flight time of 18-20 minutes, and the same amount of automated flight features.
The app that comes with the Eachine has slightly better functionality in use and the camera produces a touch better end results. The Ruko is the slightly easier unit to fly in general, but the GPS features of the Eachine seem to operate the most efficiently.
|Eachine E520S||Ruko U11|
|Flight Time||14-16 minutes||18-20 minutes|
|Auto Flight Features||Yes||Yes|
Beginners Will Love the Eachine E520S
The Eachine E520S is primarily aimed at kids and beginner drone users who want a fully-featured drone while still enjoying reasonable video output. Considering the overall price point, the drone wins in this department, providing a solid feature set and nice, automated features. The drone can take a little getting used to in-flight, as it can overreact at times. With a little practice, though, you soon learn to judge its characteristics, which is especially important for smooth video footage.