Drones

Review: Hubsan FPV X4 Plus mini drone will give you a buzz

Review: Hubsan FPV X4 Plus min...
Gizmag tries out the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
Gizmag tries out the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
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Gizmag tries out the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
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Gizmag tries out the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
A rear view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
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A rear view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
A top view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
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A top view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
An underside view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
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An underside view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus' radio remote control unit
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The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus' radio remote control unit
The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus shoots 720p/30fps HD video
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The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus shoots 720p/30fps HD video
The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus records video on a card within the copter itself
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The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus records video on a card within the copter itself
A 3.7V/520-mAh lithium-ion battery powers the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus, keeping it flying for about seven minutes per 30-minute charge
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A 3.7V/520-mAh lithium-ion battery powers the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus, keeping it flying for about seven minutes per 30-minute charge
The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus is charged via USB
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The Hubsan FPV X4 Plus is charged via USB
As can be seen, the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus is slightly larger than the original Hubsan FPV X4 (left)
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As can be seen, the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus is slightly larger than the original Hubsan FPV X4 (left)

A couple of years ago, the Hubsan FPV X4 quadcopter was billed as the world's smallest consumer drone to provide first-person-view video. That was enough to get us interested, so we reviewed the thing. Although we mostly liked what it had to offer, there were a few shortcomings. Now, Hubsan has addressed almost all of those, with the new-and-improved FPV X4 Plus.

The original FPV X4 shoots SD (standard definition) video, and records it on a MicroSD card located in the radio remote control unit. This means that the picture quality isn't great to start with, plus any glitches in the video transmission (of which there are plenty) will be recorded.

By contrast, the Plus shoots 720p/30fps HD video, and records it on a card within the copter itself. There are still some glitches seen on the 4.3-inch LCD screen of the remote, but they aren't recorded. Although better than it was, the video quality still isn't exactly going to put GoPro out of business – it's about what you'd expect from such a tiny lens and sensor.

A 3.7V/520-mAh lithium-ion battery powers the Plus, keeping it flying for about seven minutes per 30-minute charge. That battery marks another improvement, in that it simply slides into the drone, snapping into place as it does so. On the original version, wires have to be manually plugged into one another, then unceremoniously stuffed into the back in order to keep them out of the way.

A 3.7V/520-mAh lithium-ion battery powers the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus, keeping it flying for about seven minutes per 30-minute charge
A 3.7V/520-mAh lithium-ion battery powers the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus, keeping it flying for about seven minutes per 30-minute charge

It should be noted that in a few of our "rougher landings," the Plus' battery did pop part way out, causing the drone to immediately power down. Also, although the Micro SD card has stayed put, it doesn't go in with the same satisfying click as the battery, leaving you to wonder if it's really fully engaged.

Flying the original and the Plus one after the other, it certainly seems like the new one is a little easier to control. That said, you're still going to crash it – a lot. We've mentioned it before, but "drifty" mini drones like these are harder to fly than larger GPS-stabilized quadcopters. Those boys are perhaps more intimidating because they're bigger, louder and more expensive – but they're also much easier to handle.

So far the Plus has stood up to all of its crashes, despite rather curiously lacking the shock-absorbing rubber feet of its predecessor. On our original FPV X4 demo unit, the camera has stopped working since our review was posted.

A top view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
A top view of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus

The claimed maximum control and video range remains at 100 meters (328 ft) – something that we have yet to fully put to the test. Video recordings (and photos) are likewise still captured via physical buttons on the remote, with traditional dual joysticks handling the flying.

Finally, for all you absolutists out there, we should note that the Plus is indeed a little larger than the original – for that matter, the original is also no longer the world's smallest FPV drone. As far as we know, that title currently lies with Axis Drones' Vidius. That model doesn't record onboard or in HD, though … plus we think that both of the Hubsans look a lot cooler.

Our FPV X4 Plus was provided by GearBest, where it can currently be purchased for just under US$146. Clips from one of our test flights can be seen in the 30-second video below.

Product page: Hubsan 107D+/FPV X4 Plus

Test flight of the Hubsan FPV X4 Plus mini quadcopter

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