Not long ago I was introduced to the world of Micro-sized Quadcopters. Having been weaned on 8 lb .60 sized glow fuel airplanes carrying a pound of electronics I was
amazed at how much technology could be put into something so small you could fly it in your living room.
As the saying goes, 'Technology has come a long way since this morning....'
Just this month I saw the Estes Proto X Quad, arguably the smallest production Quad copter in the world.
I was more than amazed; I was speechless, which is NOT something that comes naturally to me.
When I was offered one to review, I jumped at the opportunity. Let's open the box and see what's inside!
Small Philips Screwdriver (To install the 'AAA' Batteries)
When I had the Proto X's box in my hands, my first thought was 'this can't be right.... this box isn't big enough.'
Of course I was wrong, inside the tiny box was a TINY little quad, and a 2.4 GHz transmitter AND a USB charge cable.
I realized I'd better get used to being 'speechless'.
With a size of less than TWO INCHES square and a weight of 11.5 GRAMS (28 grams equals ONE ounce) the Proto X is simply tiny (TEENY tiny, even).
Everything about the Proto X is smaller than you're likely accustomed to, including the transmitter.
I realize it would be silly to manufacture a 12 gram Quad with a four pound radio, but if there were ONE thing I could change it would be the size of the transmitter.
the transmitter is smaller than a video game controller: it too is the smallest 2.4 GHz transmitter I've ever seen.
my first impression was that I was going to have problems with the size of the transmitter.
I was very glad to realize even though the transmitter is so small, it DOES have a good feel to it.
Even though I'm a 'Pinch' flyer, the tops of the sticks are textured which makes flying with my thumbs feel much better than I'd expected.
After cutting the Proto X out of the packaging (it's zip tied to the box) and installing two 'AAA' batteries (not included) in the transmitter,
I plugged the included USB charger into my laptop's USB port and connected it to the back of the Proto X.
After about 15 minutes, the red LED on the charger went out, and I was ready to fly.
I averaged 4 - 5 minute flight times, depending on how aggressive I was on the throttle. I have heard rumblings that the Proto X may be capable of flips and rolls. Although mine is quite nimble and lively, I was not able to get it to flip.
The instruction manual consists of three single page pamphlets: one in English, one in German one in Spanish. It's certainly adequate for this little Quad.
Zipping the little Proto X around the living room is an absolute BLAST. After having banged it into the wall a couple of times I discovered the Quad is much more durable than I'd expected. I found myself getting brave, pushing myself out of my own comfort zone.
it is very well mannered, allowing me to work on very precise flying... not only trying to land on a briefcase, but later landing on a paperback book,
then a cell phone and finally a book of matches!
After flying the little ProtoX around for a few minutes, the LEDs began to FLASH, Indicating the battery was getting low. I found this to be a VERY helpful feature, not only that the Proto X has a Low Voltage Cutoff (LVC) setting, but also that it is set properly. Too many times I've had small quads and helicopters where the LVC was set to a very low voltage. (So low, the heli would lose power and settle on the ground before LVC voltage was met) just to check, I kept flying the Proto X for one minute past LVC and STILL had enough power to maintain altitude. (Continued flying past LVC is NOT recommended for the average user, as it does shorten the battery's lifespan)
I did take it outside one evening when it was dead calm. The LEDs are extremely helpful with staying oriented.
I was very happy to see that the Proto X behaved wonderfully as long as the wind remained calm.
I was not too happy that the battery is not removable (without voiding the warrantee)
but at $39.99 I could pick up another and fly that one while the battery charges and the motors cool off.
The Battery does have a connector and is held in place with double sided sticky tape.
After flying the proto X a few times, besides generally being more comfy with it, I really began to notice just how much I like the LED's.
Previously for keeping oriented I'd depended on having different color blades at the front and rear of the quad.
The Proto X does have different color blades, but also the LED's at the front of the quad are blue, those at the rear are red.
This simple feature makes it VERY easy to tell front from back.
I had a ball turning off all the lights in my living room and flying the little proto X around.
I began to realize my neighbors must think there's something weird going on next door, I could only imagine what it looked like from outside.
(My neighbors DID notice... but they know about my lifelong obsession for anything aviation related... they thought it was a blimp with lights)
It's sound is a little different too... I can only try to explain by saying it sounds like a multi engine insect.... in harmony and perfectly tuned.
I had SO much fun with the Proto X that I bought another one for my Kid. Sorry, Dad is keeping his.
It really IS that much fun.
Check out the video to see the Estes Proto X in action!
Estes Proto X
I certainly expect the Proto X to be one of the top 'MUST have' items this Holiday Season,
at only $39.99 ready to fly, I'm sure it will 'fly' off the shelves of your local retailer.
Better grab one before they run out!
2904 Research Road
Champaign, IL 61826
Phone: 800-637-7660 www.hobbico.com
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.