The EACHINE EO12HW provides plenty of features in an affordable drone.

I think one of the most amazing parts of being an adult is being able to get big kid toys.  I have enjoyed a variety of drones, but have not brought myself to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for the most advanced options.  I have watched videos of the devices and pined for many of the features that were lacking in some of the more basic drones: waypoints, return to home, and a first-person view to name a few.

The EACHINE Quadcopter arrived in a 5 7/16 inch long by 3 3/8 inch wide by 4-inch tall cardboard box, with a stunning picture of a four-bladed micro drone upon the cover.  The packaging promises a 2.4 GHz four channel WiFi, remote control, first-person view super micro ducted quadcopter.  Along the bottom of the cover, you will find a series of 12 icons.  Each icon represents a feature of the quadcopter: speed control,  first-person-view camera, WiFi connection, LED lights, Smartphone Connection, altitude hold, headless mode, one-key takeoff, gyroscope, and auto-home.  Along the bottom of the packaging, the company has included a variety of warnings: make sure the batteries are new, do not touch the drone during flight, do not fly the drone near obstacles/people/pets nor if damaged.  It appears that there are three varieties of drone/controller: EO12, E012HC, E012HW.

Eachine quadcopter accessories
Within the packaging, you will find a thin clear plastic container with the controller, the smartphone holder, the 2 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch by 7/8 inch tall drone.  Underneath the packaging, EACHINE has included an instruction manual, four extra rotors, and a USB A power adaptor with a 22-inch cord.  The controller requires two 1.5V AA batteries (not included) and the XFLY drone uses an included Li-Po battery.  The battery is encased in a metallic ribbon and resides along the bottom of the drone.  The USB charging cable has a female connector that will accommodate the male adaptor of the battery.  Additionally, the drone has a female connector for the male battery terminal.

When you have removed all of the components, you will need to attach the smartphone holder to the controller base.  There are two set screws on the smartphone holder that you can use to adjust the viewing angle and the width of the phone holder.  This device will take any modern smartphone, to include the plus-sized iPhone models, inside of Catalyst/Otterbox/Lifeproof cases. Open the set screw, expand the holder, insert the phone, retract the holder and then close the set screw.  I caution you to consider avoiding use by younger children.  With a phone in the controller, it is rather top heavy and may be easily dropped.  You do not have to put a phone in the holder, which may be a better option for some people.

EACHINE quadcopter with controller
You will need to charge the battery before the initial flight, which requires about 30 minutes.  The USB A plug has a red LED that will illuminate and alert you to the charging status of the battery.  Since they chose to use LiPo batteries, a full charge is not necessary; LiPo batteries are less likely to suffer from memory.  You can fly the drone on a lesser battery charge, but you will not get the full run-time.  Once fully charged, the red LED light will extinguish, alerting you to the fully charged state. The manual recommends that you do not continue to charge the device.  Plug the connector from the battery into the drone and then insert the battery into the holder.

Initial Flight:
Place the drone onto a level stable surface, turn on the controller and then pair the XFLY to the controller.  This process was detailed in the instruction manual fairly well.  Press the left joystick all the way up and then pull it all the way down. You will notice an indicator light along the bottom of the drone will illuminate, alerting you to the paired state.  To start flying, simply press the one take-off/landing button located along the right trigger and the drone will lift-off.   It has built-in altitude stability and will only fly a certain height (until you press the altitude lever).  Using the controller, you can adjust the throttle and rotation with the left joystick, enter a headless mode by pressing the left trigger button or instruct the drone to return home by holding the left trigger.  The right joystick adjusts the direction and allows for pre-programmed flip controls (QuadCopter flip).  To trim the flight, you have front/back and sideways trimming capabilities.

The drone and 200mAh battery weigh 0.6 ounces and will allow for a flight time of about 5 minutes, on a single charge.  This little drone is quite powerful for its size.  For my initial flight, I tried to alight from my driveway.  Even though I felt no breeze/wind, the drone lifted off, assumed an altitude of about two feet and then tilted to the right and zoomed away.  I pressed and held the return button and it did not do anything.  The drone inadvertently struck my concrete staircase and then landed.  Luckily, the drone was undamaged.  I then moved into my garage to try again.  Pressing the single take-off button, the drone again assumed an altitude of about two feet and moved quickly towards the right.  I turned to the instruction manual and attempted to trim the flight.  Trimming did make a difference and allowed the drone to hover.  Unfortunately, by the time I got the hang of it, the battery was depleted.  I again removed the battery from the drone and placed it back in the charger.

I wish that this kit came with another battery.  Having a spare would negate the very lopsided charge to flight ratio of the battery.  My eight-year-old son got the hang of the drone very quickly, as did my six-year-old.  Flying in headless mode was much easier for all of us.  Downloading the app, you can control the drone from your smartphone.  The camera is actually better than I expected and worked very well for capturing images.  Connect your phone to the WiFi and then fly with your phone.  There are a series of icons across the top: Return, take a photo, record video, media, speed control, hold altitude, speed control, gravity mode etc.  Connecting to the app/wifi was very easy, but I think I enjoyed flying in RC headless mode than FPV camera mode. THe drone is loud and you will not be sneaking up on anyone quickly with this device.

Due to weight, this is an indoor drone.  Even light gusts of wind are enough to push the drone off course. It is convenient that this drone has auto return and headless modes.  For early drone fliers, the headless mode allows the drone to fly in relation to you and not to the camera.  Some may like this and others may not.  Once you master the typical flight, you can press the center of the right button and press any of the directions of the right thumbstick, to do a flip.  The flip mechanism did seem to drain the batteries a little quicker.  As a caution, the manual recommends starting these maneuvers at least five feet off the ground.  It is very fun to fly and provides a wonderful cost to feature option for the hobbyist.  This drone seems perfect for most ages, despite the 14+ age on the package. This has become my favorite mini-drone/quadcopter. I rate the EACHINE quadcopter at 5/5 stars.

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