Geeks will go crazy over anything that can be remotely controlled. So I am fairly certain that this is up a geek’s alley. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Egofly Hawkspy radio-controlled helicopter (LT-712) from Xenon Project which retails for $69.99. They also carry an entire line of remote control helicopters which is worth a look. What sets the Hawkspy apart from other RC helicopters is the addition of an onboard camera that can be triggered from the transmitter.
I have to be honest here, I haven’t reviewed many RC helicopters — none, in fact. But if you’ll bear with me, I’ll try my best to go over the Hawkspy. We’ll also be giving this review unit away to a MakeUseOf reader so be sure to join the giveaway and be in the running to win it.
For $70, you’ll get the Hawkspy, its remote control (transmitter), a 1GB MicroSD card, a (very bright orange) MicroSD card reader, a spare tail blade, 4 landing skid rubbers, a wall charger and the user manual. The first I did was throw away the user manual — it was most probably written and printed in China and therefore extremely confusing. I learnt more about flying an RC helicopter by browsing on YouTube for instructional videos. There was however, one important fact about the Hawkspy that did come through the user manual — it shouldn’t be charged any longer than an hour to 75 minutes. That was about it.
The helicopter unit is smaller than I had anticipated; measuring at 12.5 inches, which is roughly the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger on an average human. It’s also extremely light, being made out of mostly plastic trim and an aluminium frame.
The main attraction of the Hawkspy is most definitely its onboard “spy” camera which is mounted at the bottom of the unit. The fixed forward-facing camera is activated by a button on the transmitter and once enabled, it records video only at a resolution of 720×480 in MJPEG format directly into the MicroSD card.
Where the MicroSD card slots into the camera unit is pictured below. There’s also an LED light to indicate when recording is in progress. Although the camera isn’t capable of recording in high definition, I found the quality of the video to be acceptable even in low light conditions. There are quite a lot of videos recorded by the Hawkspy on YouTube so I won’t bore you with any of my test footages. The only thing that’s missing from the entire setup is a way to remotely view the captured video without actually having to remove the MicroSD card and inserting it into the reader. It would have been nice to actually see what’s being recorded in real-time. But then again, for a $70 toy, that is probably asking too much.
Now, operation. The mode-2-ish transmitter requires a whopping 6 AA batteries to operate. The retractable antenna is able to control the helicopter up to 90 meters away. On the left, you’ll find the throttle control (makes the helicopter fly higher or lower). The rudder and the forward/backwards flying directions are controlled on the right. The power slider is smack right in the middle, which an LED indicator right above it. RC helicopter hobbyists will probably point out that the cyclic controls are sort of inadequate — the right/left cyclic controls are missing so the helicopter isn’t able to pitch to the left or right.
There is also an additional slider below each control toggle. The one of the right is the ST trim slider, which needs to be adjusted if the helicopter spins to the right or left on its own while in the air. Unfortunately, the slider on the left is a dud and the transmitter is missing throttle and pitch trims.
The two additional buttons on the left and right of the power slider controls the landing and rudder LED lights on the helicopter and the 2-speed mode (which didn’t make any difference during testing) respectively.
On a full charge, the Egofly Hawkspy provides you with 10-15 minutes of flying fun. The included 1GB MicroSD card is more than sufficient to record your entire flight session.
The Hawkspy is a novelty toy with the added capability of recording video. It’s certainly a fun toy to have around. It’s small, light and pretty durable. If the flight time could be improved, I’d easily recommend it.
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