Syma X5SW Camera Quadcopter Review
Syma is a pretty well-known and respected RC aircraft maker and what it almost exclusively makes are toy-grade fliers. Many proficient RC pilots got their chops inexpertly flinging a Syma product around.
Looking at the product shots, though, you may have to do a double take, because the X5SW is riffing very hard on the DJI Phantom series. That rounded Fisher-Price body shell is a dead-ringer for the much, much more expensive product from DJI.
I get why Syma did this; it’s the same reasons we have fake Transformers toys. But they are one company that didn’t need to do it.
Looks to Meh For
Do I like the looks of the X5SW? Well, this is about as vanilla as a drone design can be, so frankly it doesn’t move me either way. At least it isn’t actively offensive to my eyes.
In the box you get quite a few things. You get the copter, the transmitter, THREE batteries, only one set of blades, one USB charger, and the support frame.
These are 500mAh batteries that take two hours each to charge, so it’s a pity that only one USB charger is included. Some other manufacturers have seen fit to include one charger for each battery, which is something I applaud. If you have a third-party balance charger it will probably do a quicker job. People have also reported success fitting larger capacity batteries in order to extend the flight time, which is a good thing, as you shall see.
The X5SW has a diagonal motor distance of 230mm, which makes it not quite mid-sized, but getting there. It uses 8mm coreless motors that are well-enclosed to keep hair and other nasties from jamming the motor and burning it out.
The maximum control distance is about 160 feet and you’ll get six to eight minutes of flight if you ditch the prop guards and camera, but fully loaded the X5SW will be out of puff in a mere four minutes. See why you’ll want a higher capacity battery?
FPV for a Penny
While the camera on the X5SW is not particularly impressive, as you’d expect from a sub-$100 drone, it’s probably the best cheap FPV experience you can have. The quality of the footage isn’t going to be something anyone would pay for, but as a cheap way to get a bird’s-eye view I can’t think of anything more affordable that would be worth it.
Of course, as is always the case with WiFi FPV, there’s about two seconds of lag between what the camera sees and what’s happening right now. So piloting exclusively via FPV is not recommended. The rules in most regions say you have to maintain line of sight anyway and the range of 167 feet basically makes that a given, but it’s still worth keeping in mind.
Another rather big problem is that the X5SW records the video stream on the phone itself, not locally on an SD card. This means any signal issues will show up in the recording, and there will be signal issues – believe me.
Breaking Bank, or Not
So, just so that everyone remembers, this is a drone that costs a little over sixty bucks. That is cheap, cheap, cheap. I mean why are you even reading this review? Most people spend more money on a decent lunch. Just buy one; heck, buy two.
Still here? OK, if you really do care then this is probably the cheapest FPV slash Camera drone where I actually care about the camera feature and the camera is actually useful. I always feel that the cameras they throw in on these are a marketing afterthought to sell them to people as an extra feature to put on the box.
The X5 series that the X5SW is based on, though, is already a solid little drone family. Syma changed basically nothing about the X5 and simply added an FPV WiFi camera.
Despite the dodgy streaming and the short flight time, you can actually use the X5SW for stuff. You can scout from the air and survey things. You can take pictures that are good enough for Facebook or Twitter. Most importantly, you can just have some good old-fashioned fun. Syma has sold a butt-ton of X5 series quads and with damn good reason. They are worth way more than the asking price and will make you happy.
Beginners or just people who want a cheap camera drone to play around with while the DJI is in the shop can put down a few Jacksons and just go for it. Just remember to invest in a balance charger and some higher capacity batteries and you’ll be fine.