It never ceases to amaze me the number of features available in the current crop of cost-effective drones. As features trickle down from the expensive units to the budget-friendly versions, beginners have never enjoyed more quality for the money.
One drone that is firmly in this department is the Force1 U49W Blue Heron. This drone has standout features such as a 720p HD camera and plenty of automated flight modes.
If the Force1 U49W Blue Heron supplied all these features at its current price all on its own, we could simply stop here as a recommendation. However, plenty of other drone producers have had the same idea, offering tons of features in a cost-effective package. The Force1 U49W Blue Heron isn’t just about what it can offer, but if it can also match up to the rest of the competition.
The Force1 U49W Blue Heron is part of a five drone lineup, with the other models offering different quality cameras, maximum flight distances, and flight times. The U49W is the middleweight in the lineup, offering usable features such as a 720p HD camera, a 150m maximum flight distance, and a 12-15 minute flight time.
The package itself comes with the more or less complete drone, a 120 degree wide-angle 720p HD Camera, two batteries, a USB charger, extra propellers, tools, and a user manual. The drone itself is made from hard-wearing ABS plastic, with built-in propeller guards which are most needed for your first bunch of flights.
Landing pads are built into the unit, keeping the drone and camera well away from wet or rocky surfaces on takeoff or landing. The camera is capable of taking both stills and video and accepts a microSD card for storage.
The included controller feels well made and although it has simple controls, a smartphone can be easily attached and used with the included app. The use of the smartphone opens up the full set of flight features along with first-person view capabilities.
Lots of beginner-friendly features have been included which make takeoff, landing, and even stunts a breeze to achieve. These include a headless mode, altitude hold, and one-key takeoff and landing. The drone can also perform a 360-degree flip with the push of a button if you want to impress your friends.
The drone works with Wi-Fi in first-person view (FPV) and for additional beginner-friendly features, there are various speed modes. These are most helpful when you don’t want the drone to go full tilt on your first few flights, when you’re still getting the hang of how the thing flies.
These beginner-focused features are a great way to build initial confidence and to allow time to study how the drone reacts in different weather conditions. On that note, the drone can handle the odd gust of wind, but it doesn’t exactly like very windy conditions.
The only downside to consider at this point is that this is not a foldable drone, but it’s still reasonably sized and lightweight enough to be easily carried around.
The Force1 U49W Blue Heron in Use
The two included batteries each provide up to 15 minutes of flight time. With up to 30 minutes of total flight, this in itself makes the package feel like a more expensive option. Setup and configuration of the drone is a simple and straightforward process, made much easier when the drone is controlled via the included app.
Initial flight is easily controlled by automated features. Most needed for the beginner is automated takeoff and landing along with altitude hold. Although you won’t be straying too far from home on your initial flights, the 150m control distance is well within the limits for this price point. Plus, considering the unit doesn’t work with GPS, the drone is still very controllable within its range.
The Force1 U49W Blue Heron is definitely a fun drone to fly and although the camera footage isn’t exactly broadcast quality, it’s still high-quality enough for home use.
How Does It Compare?
At this end of the price range, you only have to spend a few dollars more to get a hike up in features. The SNAPTAIN SP650 1080p costs a bit more than the Force1 U49W, but for the extra money, the drone includes a 1080p camera with a very solid design, not dissimilar to the DJI Phantom 4 Pro.
The SNAPTAIN has some unique features in the form of voice and gesture controls. There’s also gravity control which can steer the drone according to the movements of a smartphone. The SNAPTAIN is also capable of capturing 1920X1080 video footage at 25fps, which would make a better option if video quality is your priority.
|Force1 U49W Blue Heron||SNAPTAIN SP650 1080p|
|Maximum Flight Distance||150m||80m|
|Flight time||15 minutes||12 minutes|
Considering the very reasonable price of the Force1 U49W Blue Heron, it has all the features you would need for your first steps into drone flight. These include simple controls and automated flight features which are incredibly useful for the beginner.
The drone has a high enough build quality to take a few bumps and scrapes, with the built-in propeller guards being a very worthy inclusion. The included controller is well made and has just enough features to make initial flight easy, while not being overwhelming.
The speed modes offer a gradual learning curve for the beginner and the extended smartphone controls allow for an FPV mode for when you want to get a little more adventurous. It’s unfortunate there is no GPS/GLONASS positioning system included, but the makers can only cram in so many features at this price point.
Lastly, the inclusion of two batteries extends the flight time, rounding out the whole package to be extremely good value. This is the main takeaway with the Force1 U49W. An extremely good value drone, which offers all the beginner and teen-friendly drone features you could ever need.