Walkera QR X800 Quadcopter – Budget Warrior
It feels sort of weird to think of something that costs 2K as budget-friendly, but in the world of professional camera drones that’s nearing the low-end of the range. For that price Walkera is offering quite a lot of value.
In fact in some ways this drone is truly amazing at any price.
Checking All the Boxes
So what do you get for your money? You get the main craft, one DEVO F12E transmitter, a G-3D gimbal, a control board, a GPS module, one battery, a charger, and an aluminum carry case. This RTF version comes with an iLook HD camera with 13MP sensor and 1080p 30fps video.
That F12E transmitter also means there’s no need for a tablet or smartphone, since it has an FPV screen built in. Another cost saver.
Despite looking like a flying bike helmet I actually quite like the look of the X800. It’s very true to Walkera’s design philosophy and doesn’t go the way of “flying iPad” as DJI has done with the Phantom and, to a lesser extent, the Inspire.
Good on Walkera for keeping the sporty looks – that’s a plus in my book.
Let’s talk about the gimbal for a second. The G-3D is a gimbal that’s compatible with quite a few drones. I’ve seen people put them on Phantoms, for example. Walkera sells them separately, and they make an affordable alternative to the more high-end Zenmuse.
While you aren’t going to be attaching big DSLRs to this gimbal, it will happily accommodate a GoPro Hero 3 or Hero 3+. So for non-cinematic commercial or enthusiast aerial photography, that’s perfectly acceptable.
Have a look at this footage taken with this gimbal.
For the price you’re paying this is pretty great, you have to admit. Especially if you already have a GoPro lying around.
Flight Of the Concorde
The absolutely best thing about the QR X800 is its flight time. When Walkera first announced this quad, they claimed a 45 minute flight time. Officially the flight time is between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the battery and conditions. This is excellent compared to more expensive drones that get 15-20 minutes.
It may not have the performance or professional-grade footage of those more expensive drones, but if your project needs endurance above all else, there are few if any drones that can match these flight times.
As standard it has a massive 10000mAh battery, but can take up to a 15000 mAh unit, which goes some way to explaining the X800’s endurance. But the rotors have also apparently been redesigned to be more efficient.
The weight saved by using a carbon frame certainly helps with weight-saving, and those retractable skids are perfect for making sure the gimbal can’t catch sight of rotor or landing skid.
The Brains of the Operation
Even at this price point Walkera has added a bunch of important software features. First of all, the X800 can receive software updates, so any improvements to the system are yours to have, should they be released.
It has support for a one-button return-to-home GPS function. It’s FatShark compatible, has low voltage protection, and works with a range of radios.
Pulling the Trigger
Is this the drone for you? That depends on whether you’ll be happy with the footage that compatible cameras can provide. The X800 provides a stable, low vibration platform to carry that video equipment, but if GoPro or equivalent footage is not enough for you, then you should dig deeper to get something higher up the food chain.
That endurance is also a major selling point. I can think of a lot of applications that don’t require perfect footage, but do require longer flight times. Aerial surveillance and surveying is one. The controller range is something you’ll have to work with (depending on which transmission and reception equipment you settle on), but you can get up there and stay there for a long time. That also makes it perfect for covering sports or other events that have breaks at intervals that fall within the flight time. One quick battery swap and you’re back in the game.
FPV experiences will also benefit from the long flight times – there’s nothing worse than having to come back down after 10 minutes in the air.
Overall I think the X800 provides a superb value proposition, if its strengths are what you’re looking for. I have no doubt that I’d personally be happy to spend this much on a craft this capable.