There’s no denying that the cheaper end of the drone market is packing in lots of goodies with many taking their influences from the top end of the market, such as the DJI Mavic. It’s not just in the design, it’s also in the features, providing a cost-effective way to enter the wonderful world of drone flight. One such example is the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow FPV RC Drone.
This is a foldable drone, much like the DJI Mavic in looks, which means that it’s very convenient to carry around and packs some very useful flight features. In this regard, let’s check out what’s in the box of this unit and see what it has to offer as a whole.
When the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow FPV RC Drone is fully folded down, it looks more like a desktop application, than a stealthy flying machine. However, unfold the thing and it starts to look like something from a Star Wars set, modern and both futuristic looking. The whole body is made of strong, durable ABS plastic, with a front-facing camera and front and rear LED lights to easily check its position when flying.
As for the basic specifications, 6-axis gyros are used for stability, WiFi first-person view via the included smartphone app, a 3D VR Mode and a front-facing 720P HD camera. There’s also a nice bunch of automated flight features which include an altitude hold function, gravity sensor mode which follows the movements of your smartphone, one-button start and landing, and four speed modes.
The drone has an operating range 50 to 70m, a Wifi range of up to 30m and a flight time of seven to nine minutes. A VR headset can also be used via the included app.
As for the things included in the box, you get a fully built drone, a transmitter, two drone batteries, spare propellers and other spare bits which include: control sticks, a phone holder for the transmitter, USB chargers, and a user manual. The drone also only needs a quick setup and configuration before you can get going.
Holy Stone HS160 Shadow FPV RC Drone in Use
The first test here is how easy the drone is to fly. In this case, it uses a 6-axis gyroscope and a built-in barometer for keeping everything steady. It may not be as advanced as more expensive units, which generally have GPS and GLONASS features, but in general, the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow FPV RC Drone does a very good job of holding stability, unless it’s in very strong weather conditions. It’s also very smooth to control and can handle slight breezes.
There are lots of beginner-friendly flight modes here, which include altitude hold and headless mode. Headless mode moves the drone to your own position. A great feature for when you’re first starting out, but it’s advisable in the long term to fly the drone in a traditional manner.
The four different speed modes will allow you to step up the speed of flight as you get more experienced as a pilot. There’s also the gravity sensor mode, which allows you to control all flight operations by the smartphone app.
This is a fun and very intuitive way to fly and feels more like playing a game on your smartphone than actual drone flight. You can also perform a few tricks such as 360-degree flips if needed.
The flight time is about average for this cost of this drone. There are two batteries included, but it’s advisable to buy another spare to get the most out of your flight time. The range of the drone is up to 70m, being about average. But for the beginner, you probably don’t want to be that adventurous with distances anyway, but a larger range would have been nice.
Video footage can also be stored on a micro SD card which slots into the side of the drone, giving more scope for higher video quality. The video quality is set at 720p HD/30 frames per second. The footage is reasonably stabilized and can be said to have okay quality, but you have to treat it as a unit for capturing candid footage or for practicing more than anything else.
If you want the clearest and most stabilized drone footage, then you will have to jump up in price. Still, the camera is reasonable enough at this price point.
In total, the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow FPV RC drone is very easy to fly and only gets tricky in very windy conditions. The automated flight features will give plenty of confidence to the beginner and also give a taste of what’s available in the higher end of the market.
How Does It Compare?
When it comes to drones in the sub $100 range, there’s a lot to choose from. Each manufacturer is scrapping it out to offer the most features for the money. This means that just a slight hike in price means a lot more features for the money. One possibility is the Hubsan H502s X4.
This is a compact little drone with a lot of practicing features and has a respectable range of 250m. Camera quality is about the same as the Holy Stone, but it also boasts things like GPS and return home, but is also more susceptible to wind conditions. Still, the Hubsan provides a lot of functionality for the money.
|Holy Stone HS160 Shadow FPV||Hubsan H502s X4|
|Flight Time||7-9 mins.||12 mins|
|Stabilization||6-axis gyro||6-axis gyro|
In the evermore competitive, budget-friendly end of the drone market, the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow FPV RC drone slots in nicely with a rounded feature set and an easy way to start flying. Having two included batteries means longer flight times and also adds to the worth of the whole package.
The addition of a bunch of extras and a healthy aftermarket scene means you can easily buy into things like replacement motors and the like to further extend the functionality. It does lack some of the more advanced features out there, but as an all-rounder, the Holy Stone would make a good entry for the beginner into drone flight.