As we have already done a review of the Syma X5, we thought it would be a good idea to review what is probably its closest competitor, the UDI 818A. Both drones, or quadcopters, are available at well under the $100.00 mark, and there is a wide variety of options available.
The first place where the UDI 818A scores heavily is its weight, as at around 5.5oz, that is well below the minimum weight for drone registration with the FAA. Now that’s a lot of hassle saved and it truly means that you can be up and running in no time at all. After all, this ‘entry level’ drone is all about having fun and enjoying yourself, not getting wrapped up in red tape and governmental bureaucracy, even if drone registration is, ultimately, a good thing in theory.
However, while being light may be a plus point where drone registration is concerned, it is a minus point for stability and ease of control, not to mention the introduction of a bit of wind. This is not a ‘mini’ drone, and its size is quite impressive considering the overall weight. When it comes to flying though, its responsiveness is such that the word smooth does not really factor into the equation. Ignoring the fact that the camera image quality is not exactly earth shattering, from the image you see in the video you will quickly understand what we are talking about here. If you wanted to experience the sensation of airsickness from the comfort of your armchair, watch a video taken using the UDI 818A!
Perhaps we are being a bit harsh here though as we are not talking about a Parrot Bebop or DJI Phantom 3 professional drone and with such a disparity in price, something has to give. Instead of perhaps looking from the top down, we should look at the UDI 818A from the bottom up, whereupon the view is far better.
For under a hundred bucks you get to experience FPV (first person view) for the first time. To be able to see what your drone sees while you are still on the ground is quite an experience in itself. Better still, the earlier UDI 818 models had a poor quality camera and this has been rectified with a 1280 x 720P HD camera which makes the world of difference. Not only is the FBV better, but the images stored on the 4GB micro SD card are excellent. In our opinion this takes the UDI ahead of the Syma 5C.
Where instability is concerned, this too has been addressed through the incorporation of a 6-axis gyro, and this has increased the precision with which it can perform stunts. The manufacturers claim this also gives the quadcopter more stability in wind. We guess that depends on what you call wind. Don’t forget that despite its decent size, the UDI818A is only just over five ounces in weight, so no matter how many 6-axis gyros you have, anything other than a breeze is going to be problematic.
As for battery life, well once again you have to remember the price tag of this quadcopter. Seven to nine minutes seems to be about right for this machine, and we reckon that is more than reasonable. Better still, with this model we have reviewed, you get an extra battery, so that really doubles your flying time and the amount of fun you can have.
So, to summarize – despite the obvious shortcomings of this drone, we like it a lot. We like the design, the fact the rotors are well protected, and the controller with its own LCD screen to keep an eye on all the technical details. It is relatively simple to set up, and despite its light weight, still sufficiently robust to withstand the occasional mishap. Compared to the Syma 5C, we think this has the edge, but that may also be down to the fact this design looks more futuristic than the Syma 5C.
- Value for money 9/10
- Quality of instruction material 7/10
- Ease of initial setup 9/10
- Controllability 7/10
- Availability of spare parts 8/10
- Flight time 9/10
Average Rating 8.0/10
Other entry-level drones you might consider: