Walkera QR X350 Premium Quadcopter Review
The QR X350 Premium from Walkera is basically an upgraded version of the plain QR X350. I don’t know Walkera, maybe give it a more unique name? It’s also known as the “Ultimate” in some regions, which is not that much better.
It’s a pretty solid looking drone and seems to have quite a bit of power in flight. Is it a contender in its class? Let’s find out.
To me the design of the X350 is more than a little reminiscent of the original military Predator drones. The nose and that little GPS mast keep making me think it almost looks like a scale model of it. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your opinion) the X350 does not come with tiny hellfire missiles, but it does have some other things going for it.
I really do like the design, though. It’s not Apple-esque like so many new drone designs are trying to be, and it doesn’t look like yesterday’s technology either. It’s a bit future-industrial, which is right up my alley.
The X350 Premium really does show lots of iterative refinements. It’s becoming clear that camera drones are maturing as consumer products and customer feedback is having an effect on the design and functionality of new products.
I’ve heard some bad stories about earlier models from the 350 series, but in general those seem to have been sorted out with this latest addition to that family.
I really like the rear flight condition indicator panel that shows you if all the flight conditions are green before takeoff. At the very least this should help prevent GPS and compass calibration lock and calibration-related flyaways.
The battery also has clear indicator lights that show you if everything is OK or not. Everything is done in a modular snap-in way, with no fiddly, snag-prone wires anywhere. All in all this is the result of research and development paid for by the many less-refined products that have gone before.
The reliability of earlier 350-series drones has been addressed with the Premium in spades. There is now a dual positioning system that uses GPS and GLONASS – in case one fails, the other should take over. If there’s an unacceptable voltage drop, the X350 will come home – if you’re within 0.6 miles, that is. Finally, if the radio connection becomes weak or broken, the drone will come home. Hopefully this particular model of X350 is not flying away to far-off lands any time soon.
Camera of Choice
I have to say something about the modular front camera on this thing. It comes with an semi-integrated fisheye 1080p camera. You slide it in and out just like the battery module at the other end. So you can fly with no camera, or attach one of the many Walkera gimbals to the X350 and use a GoPro instead.
The fisheye camera is not going to give you much in the way of usable cinematic video, but it can give you that action-cam vibe or simply a great field of view for first person flying.
The included transmitter is pretty feature-complete, if you ask me. It’s the popular F12E unit with built-in screen, so there is no need for a tablet or smartphone. People seem to like this radio and, if you look at the general opinion, it does the job pretty well.
There are a host of useful smart features such as a “follow me mode”, the ubiquitous return home function, and automatic landing and takeoff. There’s also an automatic circular flight mode. These are all things that I’m starting to think of as standard. Very importantly, it has “Hyper IOC”, or “intelligent orientation control”, which lets you pilot the quad relative to your position, and not where its hypothetical nose is pointing. This simplifies one of the hardest things for pilots to learn, which is absolute orientation, requiring a bit of brainpower to master. For people who just want to take good pictures, an IOC function is a godsend.
It’s worth going over some of the numbers that go with the X350. Excluding the optional gimbal, it weighs 3.6 lbs. It has a high voltage 8S 3000mAh battery which provides a maximum flight time of 25 minutes, conditions allowing. That’s really all anyone cares about, I suppose. The flight time is not bad considering its weight and size.
Dammit, I Like It
There’s not much I can criticize about the X350. One owner did mention that the props are a bit flimsy and don’t make full use of the 8S battery power, but perhaps stiffer replacement props would make things better. In general though, it seems as if you can fly the X350 a bit like a racing drone for fun, but then attach a gimbal and camera if you want to do something productive, or also fun.
That’s a nice range of versatility. A good overall RTF package with good options. I think Walkera has a real contender here.