There’s no denying that what we get for our money at the budget end of the drone market is quite impressive these days. For less than a few hundred dollars we can capture HD video footage, still images, and have a wealth of automated flight features.
You’re not going to get advanced flight features, many manual controls, or broadcast-quality video like the expensive units, but models like the Force1 Mini Drone go a long way to give you a flavor of what is possible.
The Force1 Mini Drone provides a sleek design, an integrated 720P HD camera, and enough controls to keep the beginner happy. In this regard, let’s see what the whole package provides for the money.
The initial package contains everything you need to get going with this drone. The drone itself has a front-facing, integrated camera, 2.4Ghz Transmitter, spare propellers, two batteries, a USB charger, a little screwdriver, and user manual.
The drone is made of hard-wearing ABS plastic with propeller guards that cover each side of the drone. These propeller guards initially feel more robust than just covering each propeller individually. They may affect flight ever so slightly in strong winds, but this is negligible the majority of the time. It’s not exactly a large drone being only 26cm across.
The 720p HD camera is a fixed unit at the front of the drone. It doesn’t move, but there are other tasty video features to keep up interest levels. A smartphone can be used to control the drone and also link up to a compatible VR headset for FPV if needed.
Two batteries are included in the package, which take roughly 90 minutes to charge and provide an eight-minute flight time, 16 minutes in total. Each arm of the drone has its own LED lights which aren’t just there to look funky, but also to help orientate the drone and for it to stand out in low light.
Setup is simple and once the controller and smartphone have linked up to the drone via Wi-Fi, you’re good to go.
The Force1 Mini Drone in Use
Although you can fly the drone completely with the included controller which has simple controls, the smartphone app is needed to access the on-board camera and you will need a microSD card to record footage.
The smartphone app itself is easy-to-use, accessing all the control features and is basically the best way to fly this thing to get the full experience. A smartphone can also be clipped to the top of the controller.
Controlling the drone is very straightforward, which is helped a bunch by the automated flight features. These include Headless Mode where the drone orientates itself to your position, Altitude Hold for stationary hovering, 360-degree flips, and one key take-off and landing. The last feature is one of the best for building confidence for the beginner.
There are alarms for when the drone is going out of range or the battery starts to run down. Luckily, the range is 80m, with the alarm going off far before this point for safety.
As the whole body of the drone comes in black, the little hints of bright blue on the body and propellers make the drone easier to spot when it’s darting around. This is a very easy drone to get started with and the side rail, propeller guards do a fine job when the drone accidentally bumps into objects. I’m almost wishing this was a feature that could be installed on many drones.
Three different speed settings are included, with the slowest one for beginners which helps enormously with getting used to initial flight. The top speed setting is great for zipping around which the Force1 Mini Drone is quite capable of.
As for the size of the drone, this means it is susceptible to gusts of wind. Therefore, it’s best to fly the drone in near ideal conditions. One other point is that it’s not the most stealthy of units as the motors do emit quite a bit of noise. This is more a concern for higher-end drones which are capturing broadcast quality footage, but for a beginner drone, it’s just something to be aware of.
As for the camera, video footage is respectable, providing a 120-degree angle of view. The quality is good enough for getting candid footage considering the price of the unit.
How Does It Compare?
The beginner side of the drone market has a lot of offerings, with plenty of features. It seems you only have to spend a few dollars more for a jump in functionality and quality. In this respect, the Force1 Blue Jay comes from the same company, with a similar price tag, but slightly more features.
The Force1 Blue Jay has a movable, stabilized camera which is 720P HD and provides similar quality footage to the Mini Drone. It’s also a much larger unit, with a landing gear designed to protect the hanging down camera.
The Blue Jay also has slightly more advanced flight features, which are still very beginner-friendly, but also arguably letting the more experienced pilots out there have more manual control. Although the Blue Jay is great value for money, it’s probably the drone you would move to after mastering the Mini Drone.
|Force1 Mini Drone||Force1 Blue Jay|
|Camera||720P HD||720P HD|
|Automated flight Controls||Yes||Yes|
|Flight Time||8 minutes||8 minutes|
The Force1 Mini Drone is highly recommended for the beginner drone pilot as it’s very quick and easy to get going with your flying duties. You’re not going to be buying into the drone for superior video footage, but that’s not really the point here.
The point is to have fun flying a drone, which gives you the initial experience of flight techniques and reasonable video quality to get a handle on drone shooting. Then you can progress to a more advanced unit without the fear of wrecking something expensive.
There are clearly many drones now available on the market around this price point, but the Mini Drone seems to have all the latest features to satisfy the beginner and feel like you’re getting value for money. If this is your first foray into the drone zone, than it’s worth testing out one of these units.