The Holy Stone U818A Drone adopts a slightly different school of thought compared to the latest crop of drones. In this instance, it’s a more simple unit, which relies more on the pilot’s skill rather than automated flight features.
This would be more of a selling point for those who want a more hands-on experience of drone flight. This means more minimalist design and features, but the drone also comes in at a reasonable price point. Therefore, let’s check out the features and see how the drone compares to the rest of the market.
A bare-bones design is a definite theme with the Holy Stone U818A. The lightweight plastic frame, which includes the circular, propeller guards, is attached to a small central hub containing all the drone’s workings. It may be small, but it easily houses the petite, 500mAh battery, micro USB card for storing video footage, and a camera that hangs underneath.
Each propeller measures 5.25 inches and is secured in place with small screws to stop them accidentally coming off in-flight. Each propeller is surrounded by a very useful plastic, circular guard, which is a much-needed feature to take the initial knocks which you were going to get when fully controlling a drone at the beginning stages. Each motor has a blue and red LED, with white LEDs in the center of the drone for easier detection when it’s up in the air.
As for the controller, it is clearly aimed at being more manually controlled, with a plethora of switches for various operations. There are buttons for turning on and off the LED lights, stunt mode, controlling video footage, and flight modes. They are also trim buttons on each joystick for fine control.
The controller has a large LCD screen which is bright and provides a good deal of data, like signal strength and flight time. There is no smartphone app that comes with this drone, just manual flight control all the way.
As for the other features, the drone stays steady with a 6-axis gyro, the included camera comes in at 720p, a low battery alarm, one key stunts like flipping the drone, Headless Mode, a 40 feet range, and reasonable flight time. All pretty basic features, but enough in the package to cover all the bases you need for drone flight.
Holy Stone U818A Drone in Use
The Holy Stone U818A is very lightweight, which means it’s quite maneuverable, but also susceptible to wind. It can handle a light breeze, but can easily get buffeted in anything stronger.
Although the drone is aimed at more manual flight, there are two flight modes aimed at beginner and advanced pilots. The first mode limits how fast the drone will turn and climb for beginner pilots. While mode two is full speed for more experienced pilots. Mode one is recommended for everybody to start with until you acquire the full feel of what the drone can do.
There are also automated flight features which can perform things like backflips. You have to go into stunt mode and it’s more reliant on the skill of the pilot to control how these stunts end up. It would have also been nice if automatic landing and hover was included.
As for the included camera, think of it more as a unit for practicing than anything else. It’s a very small thing which shoots video at 640 x 480 pixels and 30fps saved as Motion JPEG files. The camera works best with reasonable light levels and can start to get noisy footage as soon as the light levels drop. As for still images, they come out at 1280 x 960 pixels.
Unfortunately, there is no stabilization, so the vast majority of images may look soft or slightly blurred. There’s also a tendency for the camera position to be knocked out of alignment if it takes a crash, which is something to be aware of. At least the drone comes with spare rotor blades if it does take a few knocks.
As for flight time, the 500mAh battery wasn’t expected to give much, but at around eight minutes, this was about average for the price of the drone. Charging takes just under two hours, but needs to be done from the mains.
There is only one battery supplied and there is no way to recharge it from USB or even a car battery. Not great for when you’re out in the field, but spare batteries are available to buy for quite cheap. Thus, it is advisable to buy a bunch of batteries for when you’re out in the field.
In essence, the Holy Stone U818A is fun to fly and has basic facilities which should cover all the bases to make you into a competent drone pilot.
How Does It Compare?
Holy Stone has quite a few drones in their lineup which are of high quality. The newer versions bring a lot more features for not much more money and could arguably make initial flying for the beginner far more straightforward. One such example is the Holy Stone HS100 FPV RC, which feels a lot more up-to-date with more automatic flight features, a 1080p camera and the ability to use a smartphone with an included app.
The decision here will mainly come down to if you want the option of a stripped-down drone experience with the U818A or more up-to-date features in the HS100 FPV RC.
|Holy Stone U818A||Holy Stone HS100 FPV RC|
|Charge Time||2 hours||3-6 hours|
|Flight Time||8 mins||12-15 mins|
It may seem that the Holy Stone U818A Drone has a lot of negatives, but it is very fun to fly, especially if you want to be completely hands-on with the flying experience. And this could also be seen as an advantage.
There aren’t any complex GPS facilities, but the drone is very reactive and can get up to a reasonable speed if you let it. The bonus here is that it may take initially longer to learn, but with more manual flight experience, you will be more skilled in the long run.
However, compared to the latest crop of drones aimed at the beginner, it does lack up-to-date features. But, the Holy Stone U818A comes in at such a low price point that it could also be considered as a very cost-effective way to own a drone which is quite capable. Not the most up-to-date unit on the market, but still very usable in the right hands