One of the great upcoming contributors on the drone market is, of course, the Holy Stone Company from China. For instance, the Holy Stone F181 drone – a product that was released about a year ago –is quite a popular device (worldwide). Actually, this is the product that presented the Holy Stone Company to the western market.
While it is true that the drone’s competitive pricing (about $100) has played a great role in its sales, the key aspect to the drone’s growing popularity however, can be linked to the drone’s unmatched capabilities and its portability.
This drone surely does have a special charming attraction to many drone hobbyists and even photographers, which is why we decided to examine and bring out the finest details of the F181.
- Equiped With A Key Return & HEADLESS SECURITY SYSTEM
- 4 Channel Transmitter
- A Key 360° 4-Ways Flip(left,right,forward,backward), Continuous Roll For Perfect Action And Wonderful Performance
- Remote Control Battery: 3.7 V 750 mAh, Control Mode: 2.4GHZ
- Range: About 50-100 Meters. Battery Run Time: About 7-9 Minutes. Charging Time: : About 80 Minutes
But, before we start with the actual review, here are a few things you should know:
- This drone heats up a lot: if you ever have tried flying the F181, it is evident that the drone gets very hot after its 10-7 minutes of flying. As such, it’s advised that you always give the drone breaks of 10 minutes between flights in order to prevent it from burning up.
- The charging system of the drone is also limited to a currency not exceeding 0.5A beyond which the drone’s USB charger may as well burn up. Always ensure you stick to these limits.
- The controller of this particular drone is a little fragile. Never force the throttle/controller too hard, it may break quite easily.
The F181 drone is packaged in a Ready-To-Fly state. Thus, it can actually takeoff right of the box. Still, the device comes with a series of other elements like:
- The Holy Stone F181 drone
- A 2.4G remote transmitter
- 2 USB charging cables
- 2 drone batteries of 3.7V 750mAh
- 2 landing slides
- 4 rotating blades/propellers
- 4 protecting frames
- A screwdriver
- The user manual
Though the F181 is actually one of the best welded drones, the Holy Stone Company still ferries it with an additional screwdriver. So, you may not have to use it immediately. Still, it will definitely be of much help in case the drone gets damaged after a crash (which is very common) or just in case you want to make sure all screws are well-tightened.
Also, both the propellers and the protecting frame do seem to be made of the same plastic type, thus both are prone to be broken. However, it is advisable to always keep the protecting frames intact in order to protect the blades.
Being a RTF version, basically nothing much is required besides just charging the drone’s battery and plugging it into the battery slot (placed on the top of the drone). Next, you can either choose to throw the drone on air or press the takeoff/land button that is placed in the middle of the transmitter.
Design & durability
The F181 design is quite common for a quad. However, it does come with a unique feature: a curvature at the top that helps it cut through air better. Also, it is equipped with a flashlight at the front of the drone that makes it very easy to use at night.
The material used for the body frame is durable plastic which makes it quite resistant to mild crashes. An average of only 3 in 10 users had issues on its durability due to crashing. In addition, the spare parts of the drone are always readily and easily available online just in case your drone will encounter a failure of its hardware.
Then again, as noted before, this drone does come short, considering the fact that it can’t regulate its own heat system. Thus, if you want it to resist longer, you will have to be patient between flights and wait for things to cool down. Along with the heat regulation, you should always try to avoid using this drone in windy conditions as it is not well-suited to resist strong winds.
The Holy Stone F181 comes fully fitted with a 2MP camera that is able to record videos and take snaps of 720p resolution (1280 X 720 pictures and videos at 30 frames). These can be stored in the default 2GB SD card which comes with the drone or an alternative attached flash disk at the drone’s USB drive.
Even though the quality of the camera is obviously somewhat pretty, it still doesn’t qualify for professional photography. Besides, the drone still does have the normal shakiness when recording videos, which means it isn’t very stable despite the 6-axis gyro. Thus, the only use for the camera is for fun.
Battery and flight time
This quadcopter takes about 80 minutes to fully charge and discharges within 7-10 minutes when in continuous use. Now that is obviously unsatisfying, isn’t it? Luckily, the Holy Stone Company offers two batteries per drone. Thus, you can charge both batteries and use them one after the other in order to reduce the lengthy waiting time of charging.
One important battery advice is that, you should always drain the battery completely before recharging it again so as to increase the battery’s lifespan.
The F181 uses a modified manual controller that resembles a typical PlayStation pad with an additional LCD screen attached on the front end to offer direct images from the drone. It is equipped with buttons and joy-stick-like controls that will enable you to control the drone’s stability, agility, and sensitivity as well as to help you switch on or off the drone’s lights and camera.
On the other hand, the LCD screen will enable you to check the drone’s sensitivity levels, recording status and its signal quality.
Owing to the transmitter’s ease of use, there are actually several moves you can perform with the drone. You can have a look at the common controls in this video.
The drone is also able to perform rotations, spins and many other drills that will certainly thrill you.
To have a look at some of the popular drills you can perform with the drone, just watch above.
If you’re used with quadcopters with manual controllers, you will certainly find this drone pretty easy to understand. However, the situation may be different for a total beginner. While the controller does look simple, it has great controls that may prove a challenge to master from the onset. Nonetheless, with continuous use, the piloting skill can be perfected easily.
The F181 is a very stable drone in flight. With the aided boost of the 6-axis headless gyro system, this drone does have a great stability on air and can be able to perform most of the popular drills like 360 degree rotations, complete airborne spins, and many other similar stunts.
It is able to make complete flips in any direction but it is quite slow when performing such drills. In addition, these stunts have a powerful effect on the stability of the drone’s video footage.
The Holy Stone F181 has the following main flight specifications:
- Flight control range: Between 50m and 100m
- Flight time: between 7 and 9 minutes
- Maximum flight speed: 10mph
Value for money & guarantee
The F181 costs anything between $90 and $120 in the current online sales. Though it really isn’t a very cheap drone it also isn’t too costly when considering its features and capabilities. Thus, it is appropriate to buy it when you are working on tight budgets.
The drone does not have a warranty from the producer. Even so, most vendors will always give you an assurance to replace the drone in case it arrives incomplete, broken or malfunctioning. This condition is only based on the initial agreement you make with the seller
The F181 has these two main unique and distinctive features:
- It has 4 angle rotation speeds: this drone is associated with a unique feature of varying its speed of rotation in four different speeds of 40, 60, 80 and 100 mph.
- The Headless Security System: this feature eases the pilot’s role in controlling the drone as it automates the control of the drone’s landing. This ensures that the drone does not get lost in case it wanders far from the normal control distance.
Similar models or main competitors
The Cheerson CX-10W mini-drone
The Cheerson CX-10W mini costs just about $50, which in essence is about half of the price of the F181. This drone is WiFi controlled via an app (CX-10wifi) and it comes in a RTF state. Thus, it is very easy to fly and is cheaper to acquire when compared to the F181.
Despite the cheap price, its package is equipped with a pair of replacement propellers, a battery, a charger and a user manual.
The drone also takes about 25 minutes to fully charge and it drains within a relatively shorter flight time of between 4 and 5 minutes. It also has an accompanying camera of 0.3 MP resolution. It is masterly designed to take down acrobatics like swings, spins and rotations with a great agility.
The drone’s body is also highly durable and makes it a formidable competitor to the F181 on durability. Owing to the fact that this bot is app-controlled, you truly need not to be a geek to fly; any novice will be able to make this bot move with great ease.
On an overall comparison, the CX-10 does have a prettier look, an easier to control interface and a cheaper buying and maintenance cost to that of the F181.
Nonetheless, the CX-10 still fails to be a perfect competitor because it has a relatively shorter flight time, a poor camera when compared to the F181 and a small control distance of between 15m and 30m which limits its use for indoors only. However, it is the best recommendation for drone enthusiasts and beginners.
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The UDI U818A Mini-drone
One of the perfect competitors to the Holy Stone F181 in both features and dominance is the UDI U818A. There is no doubt that anyone who loves the F181 will find the UDI drone irresistible. Not just because it’s cheaper, but also because it is truly a work of art to behold.
It has a great design that makes it greatly agile on air and protects its delicate propeller from damage thereby enhancing their durability. Since it comes in a RTF state, it requires minimal or absolutely no welding.
Just like the F181, the UDI U818A comes with a 2MP camera (640X480) that takes snaps and records images into a mounted SD card within the drone. It also takes about 2 hours (when utterly discharged) to fully charge and it discharges within 9 minutes of continuous use. And much like the F181, this drone also has a control distance of about 200m.
This drone however, does have a slight upper hand over the F181 in that it is a very stable drone and its video footage is far better. It also has GPS control that curtails its flights within the appropriate control distance and it can as well help to return this drone in case it wonders away from the limited controllable region.
Even though the UDI U818A does seem like a formidable competitor in performance, packaging and pricing, this drone still has a drawback in that the durability of the drone is lesser than that of the F181. This led to many unsatisfied users. Besides that main challenge, this drone is truly a great device to try out. It is highly recommended for beginners in flying mini-drones.
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The Ghost drone 2.0 quadcopter
Of all the drones we considered in this category, this drone is the best in both performance and customizability. But unlike the former versions that were shipped in a RTF (Ready-To-Fly) state, this bot is packaged in a BNF (Bind-n-Fly) state.
This basically means that it is packaged as a skeleton upon which you will be able to weld things like the camera and propellers. This feature allows unlimited capabilities as you are able to upgrade the camera quality by changing the camera.
Keep in mind that this drone doesn’t normally come with a camera. Even so, it is compatible with all the modern drone cameras (e.g. Hero 3, 3+ and 4). It is controlled through a special device known as a G-box which has both manual and app-like features to ease controlling.
It uses a type of advanced Bluetooth technology that enables it to have a control distance of up to 1KM/3,280ft but it can as well be controlled remotely with GPS controls. It has a special advanced feature called “follow me” that enables it to easily detect the location of the G-box and follow it. This makes it a great option for filming events like racing.
The drone takes just about 60 minutes to fully charge when it’s fully depleted and discharges within 15-20 minutes of continuous use. This places it far above the F181 drone in its capabilities. However, the drone costs about $600 which may deter many from acquiring it. Even so, this drone is perfect and is best suited and recommended for commercial usage.
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Let us now have a look at the advantages and disadvantages offered by this product.
- It is easier to control: the transmitter of the F181 quadcopter that has both the manual controls and the LCD screen make it easier to note changes in signal, connectivity and such like changes that enable better piloting.
- It’s cheaper: this drone is cheap to acquire and consequently cheaper to repair in case it gets broken.
- It’s durable: the drone is made of a covering that is hard to break.
- It has a fancy design.
- It has a camera and can thus be used on simple aerial photography and not purely on fun.
- It has a poor battery and charging system.
- It has a poor internal cooling system that may cause it to burn out when used without adequate breaks of about 10 minutes.
The Holy Stone F181 is surely a perfect drone for anyone who wishes to learn on using drones and drone hobbyists. It does have a catchy design, easy controls, and a relatively cheaper cost. It is also very fault tolerant and will allow you to make several mistakes without causing it much harm.
Though it has its limitations, it is a highly recommended drone if you are working on a fixed budget.