Friday, July 01, 2016

Gear Closet: Vivitar Air Defender X Camera Drone

If you're like me, you've probably been intrigued with the potential of drones over the past few years, but put off by the steep price of entry to buying one. While the prices of drones have continued to come down, and their sophistication and functionality have gone up, it can still be a bit intimidating to think about purchasing one and learning to fly it. Fortunately, there are some new options that make it easier to buy in, and discover what it is like to actually use one of these things in the field. For instance, the Vivitar Air Defender X Camera Drone is an affordable and fun UAV that has a lot of the same options as other drones, but at a fraction of the price.

Okay, before I go too far into my thoughts on the Air Defender, lets be clear what this drone is and is not. For example, it is not a competitor to the DJI Phantom line of drones, which are larger, more powerful and definitely more pricey. Instead, this is a lightweight, easy to fly, and very affordable entry-level drone that you'll probably have a lot of fun with.

Checking out the specs on the Air Defender you'll discover that it has a lot of options for the price. For instance, it comes equipped with 16.1 MP camera that is capable of streaming video and images to your smartphone when it connects to the drone via WiFi. It also has a range of about 200 meters, and a flight time of about 20 minutes when using the two supplied batteries. It is also wrapped in 64 individual LED lights, which makes it easy to spot even in dark conditions. This also gives it a fun, unique look that helps in navigation too.


Inside the box, you'll find the Air Defender itself, a full-featured remote control, complete with smartphone holder, two rechargeable batteries for the drone, a set of regular AA batteries for the remote, and a USB recharging cable.

It takes about 2 hours to charge one of the batteries using the proprietary USB cable, so when you get the drone home, you'll have to be patient for a bit before you start using it. I'd recommend charging both batteries before making your first flight, because you'll burn through the rechargeable battery pack quite quickly, and you'll want to be able to put the second one in and fly some more before you run out of juice.

Piloting the Air Defender takes a bit of time to master, in part because it is surprisingly quick. There is a switch on the remote that allows you to limit the speed on the aircraft to 30, 60, or 100% and I definitely recommend keeping it on the slower speed when you first start. I expected the 30% setting to be slow and easy to master when starting out, but it was surprisingly quick even on that setting. At 100% power you'll want to have plenty of room, because it is fast, fast, fast.

After some practice you'll start to get the hang of flying this drone, as the controls work as you would expect for the most part. The only issue I had was getting the drone to fly at a level hight, as the joystick on the remote that controls vertical doesn't have a "return to zero" setting. This would have come in very handy, but instead I often find myself having to make minute adjustments to the stick just to get the drone to fly at a height that I would like.

If you don't want to use the included remote to pilot the drone, you can also connect it to your Android or iOS device via an app as well. This gives you the ability to fly the UAV as well, and activate its camera. In fact, you can actually get a drone's eye view of the flight right on your mobile device's screen. This is of course a lot of fun, and gives you the option to snap photos or capture video footage as well. Personally, I preferred using the actual remote control, but would have still like to have been able to use my iPhone as a screen and to control the camera. I haven't figured out if it is possible to do this however, as it appears that only one of the remotes can be used at a time.

As you've probably noticed, there is one word that keeps appearing in this review over and over. That would be the word "fun." That's because it is the best way to describe what it is like to fly the Air Defender, and judging from the crowds that gather when I break it out, a lot of people seem to find it enjoyable to watch as well. While it may be true that this isn't a professional grade drone used for filmmaking and photography shoots, it is still just a blast to fly it around, capturing images of your own.

As fun as it is to fly, the absolute best part of the Air Defender just might be the price. The drone costs just $99, which is well below the entry fee for most other drones that have a decent set of features. Basically, for $100 you can get a UAV that gives you a taste of what the more expensive drones can do, allowing you to consider investing in something more sophisticated, or simply enjoying the aircraft for what it is. That alone makes this worth consideration.

You can probably tell that I have really enjoyed flying the Vivitar Air Defender X Camera Drone. Yes, it has some limitations, but it also has a surprising amount of technology packed in as well. As long as you go in knowing that, I'll bet you'll have fun with this drone too. Honestly, it's hard not to like it.

14 comments:

jack said...

This looks fantastic! I'm a keen sandboarding blogger who'll in the future will need something like this to take good photos and videos around sand dunes to get an idea of height, distance of the dune range, places with good slopes, etc... Do you think this will be suitable for my needs and if so, is shipping available to the UK?

El Gringito said...

You actally can use the camera with the app on your smartphone and fly it with the remote at the same time.
Turn the drone on. Turn the remote on and let them sync like you werent gonna use the camera. THEN....Connect to the wi fi from the drone and open the app. You should be seeing the camera now on the screen. There is a button at top of screen that says on. Hit it and it changes to off and the throttle and directional disappear. Now you can just use the phone as a video monitor and use the remote to control the drone. Hope this helps. Mikey

Unknown said...

I can't get the remote controller to work

James Kateron said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WildLatin said...

Nice initial review, Thanks!

DOMANIO ALKATRAKS said...

I just bought this and i cant get it to hover straight up or straight down. It always lift and tilt why is that? It nevera stay on a steady hover....can someone please help

Bishop Cross said...

Bought this drone very fun to fly. However im not sure to recomend this drone because of the remarkably short flight time it has,after fully charging the battries the flight time was about ten mins at best after using both of the batteries not sure where the author got twenty.

Other then that it is a very easy UAV to fly, is very fast good camera and very durable.

Kraig Becker said...

I was getting between 8-10 minutes of flight time per battery during my testing.

Bishop Cross said...

How did you manage that and does anyone know what batteries fit this drone would love to get a 1000 mah bat or higher

Bishop Cross said...

Anyone have a link to a more powerful bat fir this uav? Looking for 1000 mah or higher i use this drone for training hoping toget a phantom for dronography

Kraig Becker said...

I believe it depends on your flight conditions and how fast you're going. Higher winds will cause it to have to struggle to maintain flight, and go through battery life more quickly. Also, I tend to fly it on the lowest speed settings (30%) which should increase battery life as well. All I know is that I generally get 8-10 minutes per pack.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know the total weight of this drone

Antwan Pope said...

Does anyone know the weight of this drone/quadcopter

Unknown said...

You have to use the trim buttons those are the little buttons by the control knobs each set represent each control... set drone as if you were gonna fly set controller to 30 percent then increase throttle just enough to where it wants to take off but dont leave the ground you will notice it wanting to move in a direction, with the trim buttons if the drone is wanting to move backward press the button that is represented as forward by the joystick one press at a time u will notice it will start to level out and you do this with every control button until trimmed when trimmed to the best u can on the ground u will notice it to start to free float like a puck on a airhockey table once there take off to a hover and trim settings one beep at a time until set to a desired operation once complete you should only have to make minor changed every once in awhile