27 January 2014

REVIEW: Hubsan Q4 Quadcopter

Size matters not.

We take to the skies once more here at The Test Pit, eager as we are to sour above the green hills of England (and to avoid slipping on all that damn ice). This time we are reviewing another quadcopter from stalwart gadget gurus RED5, who previously furnished us with the sparkly flying Quacopter with LEDs. Whereas that chopper certainly made itself known as it tore up the skies above Test Pit Towers, the Q4 is altogether a more subtle creature.

Measuring in at just 5cm across (yes, just 5!) the Q4 Quacopter is the smallest remote controlled helicopter we've ever played with, and also one of the tiniest gadgets we've ever tested. But don't let that lead you down the road to thinking this is a cheap knock-off of a chopper; the Q4 is packed with features and great design.

Just so you can get a idea of the scale we're talking about here, here is the Q4 next to the included USB charging cable:

Look at it, its wee! We knew the Q4 would be small when it arrived on our doormat, but we had no idea just how small it would be. However, for its size it feels strangely more solid than other RC helicopters we've tested and this may be due to the inspired design. The Q4's body is one continuous piece of circuit board, or PCB. On each of the four arms sits a sturdy electric motor complete with rotor blade. On top of the main body is tiny battery which is then securely covered by a plastic casing. It is a very cleverly thought out design that makes the Q4 Quadcopter extremely robust.

The controls are fairly standard for a four-rotored helicopter, yet also come in a smaller, more compact design. Although the remote looks like it might be better suited in the hands of a child, it was still very easy to grip and use in our big man hands. In fact, having the sticks closer together with easy to find trim alteration switches, made the Q4 very comfortable to fly.

A charge up session of around 20 minutes provided the Q4 with 5 minutes of flight. Less than other quadcopters, but considering the tiny size of the on-board battery, we were still impressed. There are three flight modes, accessible by pressing down the right stick. These are beginner, medium and advanced, and being the reckless sorts that we are, we went straight for option three. With the advanced setting the Q4 is far more responsive and can perform 360 degree flips. This was our setting of choice, but the beginners level is great if this is your first quadcopter.

In terms of general flying we were extremely impressed again. Even without adjusting the chopper's trim the Q4 flew pretty straight and true right out off the box. If we ever had to adjust the trim (to stop it from drifting in the air) it reacted quickly and correctly. Zipping it around both inside and out (although do keep an eye on the wind if you're outside – its only wee) was a breeze after getting a feel for the controls. We also found that night flights were particularly enjoyable due to the Q4's intensely bright LEDs.

So the Q4 is a lot of fun in its own right. Many people might buy it as an indoor practice alternative to their larger, more sophisticated quadcopters. But to be honest we would rather play around all day with this little chap than some of his bigger brothers.


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