Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter Drone Review
Like other products sold in the U.S. by Holy Stone, the F181C is actually from a company known as DFD. It doesn’t really matter, since Holy Stone is actually bringing in brands from all over and unifying them under one name. This makes sense in order to build a brand identity, but it also means that if the model numbers are obviously different, then two Holy Stone drones don’t necessarily have any relation to each other.
The F181C is yet another member Holy Stone has brought into the fold. It’s reasonably priced, but is it worth the dough or just a deflated souffle?
You’re Under Arrest, Punk
If you’ve seen the reboot of RoboCop then you have to admit that the F181C has more than a little resemblance to the newer, blacker addition to Detroit’s finest. Man, this thing looks military and menacing in its black color scheme. The blue “visor” in the front also has a whiff of Cylon Raider from Battlestar Galactica too. What I’m saying is that I like it, and if you don’t like it then we can’t be friends.
The box contents are more or less usual. Well, until you realize that they’ve provided two 3.7V batteries, each with its own USB charger. This is a great move from the manufacturers, since having at least two batteries is an absolute minimum and everyone will buy an extra anyway. So this scores big brownie points in my book.
Of course you get the quad itself too, along with protective frames for the rotors, a 2.4 Ghz transmitter, and other essentials like the landing skids. It doesn’t include spare blades, so maybe buy some at the same time or make sure you use those protectors.
The F181 is not an FPV drone, so there’s no video screen attached to the transmitter, but there is a neat little LCD screen bolted on there that shows you your trim settings, battery level, and signal strength. It’s genuinely useful.
This drone is also one of the many new cheap fliers that have headless mode functionality and a one-button return feature. Just make sure there’s nothing between you and the drone, because it will come in on a straight line. A GPS DJI this is not. The F181C can flip in all four directions in the right mode and the radio will reach between 50 to 100 meters – about 160 to 330 feet. I have to say that’s a big range difference, so maybe keep it within the minimum range just to be safe.
The F181C will fly for between 7 and 8 minutes, according to the makers, and takes a whopping 80 minutes to charge. So it’s a good thing it comes with two batteries and two chargers. They recommend that you should give the quad 10 minutes to cool down between flights, which is probably good advice. It doesn’t just have a roll feature, it has a continuous roll feature; but since flipping a quadcopter usually makes you lose significant height I doubt you could do that too many times before having a meeting with Mother Earth.
Good Beginner Snapper
There’s little info about the camera. The still resolution is 1280×720 and it takes 30fps video, but that’s the only technical information I could find. Customer reviews on camera quality range from “not that bad” to “really good” though, which is surprisingly positive. It’s probably the best you can get at this price level.
What’s the Word?
People who have bought the F181C like it’s flight abilities. It can handle outdoor conditions well enough and can get quite a bit of height; apart from a slow yaw rate it does pretty well for the price. The camera seems to work pretty good as well, but don’t buy this drone for that reason alone.
People are pretty positive about Holy Stone’s U.S. customer service; replacements and fixes seemed to be no trouble. It’s clear why this is one of the best-selling quads out there.
There are a very small number of build-quality complaints, but given the volume of these things sold, that seems to be in line with normal manufacturing error rates. Holy Stone has proven to be an easy company to deal with when it comes to after-market sales support.
Whether you are a complete beginner or an intermediate flier it seems that the F181C is a good product to own. Simple and durable enough to learn, but providing enough real-world flight time to up your game. It looks great, it flies well, and it won’t break the bank, so I recommend it wholeheartedly.