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Blade QX2 quad is worth the price

By Tim Kidwell
Published: December 12, 2014
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Product: Whether you call them multirotor aircraft or drones, one thing is for sure: They’re popular!
With the Blade 350 QX2 AP, Horizon has smartly positioned in the market a quad-copter that has a low barrier to operation and comes with all the accoutrements you’d expect.
First, let’s be clear: The QX2 is not a toy. This isn’t a micro-heli that customers fly in their homes to terrorize pets and make videos of the ensuing mayhem. In fact, the QX2 is probably too big for many backyards.

Performance: The QX2 comes with everything you need to get started: the copter, a 4-channel transmitter, LiPo battery, charger, hi-def camera and a 2-axis gimbal to steady it during flight. It also has extra propeller blades.
Getting the QX2 ready to fly was easy. Unpack the transmitter and copter, install the gimbal, and charge the LiPo and camera batteries. Customers will have to buy a micro memory card for the camera. The C-GO1 camera creates its own Wi-Fi hot-spot that you connect to with your phone or tablet via a free app. There’s an almost-2-second latency (delay) between what the camera sees and what shows up on the linked device, so customers should not try to fly using the video feed alone.
Turned on, the QX2 lights up and chirps and whistles like R2-D2. Unlike Luke Skywalker, I don’t speak droid. Thoughtfully, Horizon provides a key so you can translate what the QX2 is telling you. Caution: Patience is needed here. I found it can take up to a minute, even in an open area like a soccer field, for the QX2 to get its GPS bearings. However, eventually, I did get a steady green light and a go for flight.
Three flight modes are available to customers using the supplied transmitter: Smart, AP and Stability. Smart mode em-ploys Horizon’s SAFE Circle feature, which means the QX2, under normal circumstances, will not get close enough to accidentally injure the pilot. It also maintains stick relativity, meaning that no matter the aircraft’s orientation to the pilot, forward will always move it away and back will move it back. Left aileron control will al-ways turn it left, and right will turn it right. While I didn’t need to utilize Smart mode, I can see its uses for beginners.
AP (aerial photography) mode is when I started to have fun shooting video. The QX2 automatically levels and holds its position pretty well when the sticks are left alone. The big difference between AP and Stability mode is that in AP, altitude is determined relative to throttle position; Stability mode gives you direct control over rates of ascent and descent, hovering, and, of course, landing.
I was keen to try the QX2’s return home function. So I took off, flew around a bit, then flicked the switch on the transmitter. According to the instructions, the aircraft uses barometric pressure to determine its descent rate. At first, everything seemed fine. The QX2 basically returned to the GPS coordinates for home. It came down not quite like a stone but way faster than I would have liked. It was on target but landed pretty hard, flipping over and nicking up the blades on the asphalt. After shutting it down and doing a little maintenance, I got back in the air. This time, though, I made home a nice patch of grass. After a little flying around, I clicked over to Return Home and the QX2 returned and landed very fast—but without a hitch.
Another mode, Agility, is only available to pilots with a DX6i transmitter or higher. It takes the training wheels off the flight envelope and allows aerobatics.
 
Marketing: This end of the R/C market is hot right now. With people looking for cool ways to record video for either personal or commercial use, it looks as if the sales potential is going to remain robust.
While the QX2 is beginner-friendly, the price tag is probably high enough to keep this from being an impulse buy. Still, consider clubs in your area. Do you have local outdoor sports groups? Snowmobile enthusiasts, mountain bikers, downhill skiers or hikers? Consider marketing specifically to them. Those sorts of activities are perfect for the video capabilities the QX2 provides, and the price point beats what the group would have to shell out to hire someone to shoot video for them.
And while the QX2 AP package comes with a camera, it is robust enough to carry a GoPro, so customers wanting to upgrade right away are able to do so.

VITAL STATS
Product: 350 QX2 AP RTF with SAFE Stock No.: BLH7900
Maker: Blade
Retail/Selling: $1099.99/$749.99
Distributor: Horizon Hobby

BOTTOM LINE
• Not a toy
• Four flight modes
• Cool video and pics
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