Traxxas LaTrax Alias Quad-Rotor Helicopter Review
LaTrax is actually a sub-brand of Traxxas, a well known maker of radio controlled cars and boats. They’ve been around since 1986 and are probably the first company in the U.S. to provide fully-assembled, hobby-grade RC cars. They are also pretty well known for having a strong focus on customer service, with dedicated phone lines to answer questions or fix problems.
It seems the company now wants to complete the set of land, sea and air. The Alias is the cheapest of the three quadcopters Traxxas currently offers, going for $100 if you’re lucky. The other two machines, the Aton and Aton Plus, will set you back about $400 and $500 respectively. These are serious performance quads with top speeds in excess of 50 mph, and they are priced accordingly.
The RC car and boat pedigree really shines through in the Alias. The canopy looks like a scale Le Mans car or powerboat, whichever you prefer. There are a variety of bold colors that aid visibility, and the craft splits the coloring between the front and rear so that you can easily tell which way the quad is facing.
The boom arms have integrated LEDs that light up the whole thing, so from below there is no doubt about orientation, especially at night.
The attention to detail and high-quality materials and molding really make the Alias stand apart from many similarly priced products from the East that were clearly rushed out as quickly as possible.
This is one quadcopter that gets top marks from me in this regard.
Apart from the quad itself you’ll find a 650 mAh battery back (extras cost about 12 bucks), a USB charger, a hex wrench, batteries for the radio (hallelujah), and some extra hardware.
This is a ready-to-fly package and comes with a no-nonsense, boomerang-shaped transmitter that looks to be a good quality unit from a materials point of view.
Let’s talk about the TX for a second. Ergonomically, it seems to be a good size and shape. Lots of RTF radios are, frankly, a waste of plastic and require you to stretch your fingers in ways that aren’t comfortable.
The radio also has a small LCD display that shows you how much battery power is left in both the TX itself and the quad. You can also adjust the trim levels and which mode you are in.
There are shoulder buttons too. The left one does different things depending on the flight mode you are in. In the stunt mode setting, pushing this button – followed by inputs on the cyclic or rudder within three seconds – will initiate a flip or pirouette. The right shoulder button simply toggles the onboard LEDs.
There are various modes you can activate for the Alias. Three in fact.
In easy mode you’ll have full auto-leveling from the six-axis gyro and limited pitch angles. Nice and easy for those just getting their feet wet. In fast mode, where I suspect most people will spend their time, you still have gyro leveling, but aggressive flight angles and one-button stunts are now active.
The final mode is known as “expert” mode and you really have to know what you’re doing here. In this mode, leveling is your baby. All stunts are fully manual. Basically, only people with experience flying things like collective pitch stunt helicopters need apply here. There is, however, an emergency auto level recovery button in this mode, so if you really overcook it you can still pull your butt out of the fire.
I think the three modes have been thought out very well indeed and it makes the Alias one of the best quadcopters to grow your piloting skills. I mean, you can even customize your rate setting!
The Alias has motors rated at 50% more power than the average for drones of this size. Coupled with a top-notch gyro and this thing really tears it up. The materials are also pretty tough. The makers claim that the Alias is “crash proof”, but I don’t suggest you test that claim. It is pretty tough though, by all accounts. I mean, they have a video where they ride over the thing with a bicycle and really try to crash it:
One thing that really stands out to me about this quad is how modular it is. Almost everything pops out for easy replacement, and LaTrax has designed the Alias so that you can do just about all your maintenance using nothing but the included hex wrench. It also makes the qiaf quite mod-friendly and I have already seen people replace the motors with even more powerful ones.
One key fact about the Alias has more to do with the company than the particular quad. Traxxas has gone to a lot of trouble to provide high-levels of support.
Spare parts are readily available, people are on call to help you with various issues, and the company has made a series of videos like this one to help you get the most out of the product:
That makes the already competitive price seem even more enticing. There’s nothing worse than spending money on a RC craft and realizing after your first serious crash that you basically have to throw the whole thing away simply because you can’t get any parts.
LaTrax has even included spare hardware in the RTF box! This is really superb and one of the reasons this product appeals to me so much.
Do or Do Not, There Is No Try
This is such an easy decision. I’d buy the Alias in a heartbeat at twice the price. The only reason you wouldn’t want it is if the 200-ish size was too small for some reason or you had to have a camera.
For those of us who just want to fly, this is without a doubt so far ahead of the competition that I couldn’t in good conscience tell you to buy anything else.
LaTrax says this is a “clean sheet” design and I believe them. This is a quadcopter that takes all the design weaknesses of older quads and just does away with them. It is the most rugged thing I’ve seen. It’s easy to maintain and fix, its control systems are well thought out, and I forgot to mention that it can fly for up to 15 minutes. Usually such a long flight time would be a key feature, but in this case it’s completely overshadowed by everything else.
If you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced pilot you should buy the Alias. It’s the king of the hill as far as I am concerned. However, if your budget won’t quite stretch to it, I strongly suggest you look at my review of the Dromida Ominus