Technology moves on quickly and prices seem to drop almost as fast. There is nowhere that this is more evident than in the field of drones and quadcopters. Ten years ago they were the exclusive arena of the military but prices and availability have changed shockingly and the economic bottom of the market has now reached just over £30. The X5c does not claim to be a market beater on features but rather a reasonably priced entry point for someone new to drones that will give you a chance to learn good habits and see if you like it.
As a starter drone the X5C is where most people new to flying will start and as such it’s important that it teaches good habits. The X5C’s controller is full size and although it’s a little plasticky has a completely standard layout. The lessons you learn with the X5C will transfer to your larger drone.
The X5C comes with a short 10 page manual that shows the basics in how to fly. It introduces up and down, left and right, forward and back and then brings in turning. I found myself being very careful with the drones orientation on the ground so that I knew which way it would move in the area. It took me a while to get used to and have reasonable control in the air but the habit’s I’ve learned will serve me well on bigger more expensive drones .
Once you manage to get into the air for more than a second or two you’ll realise something. The X5C is very agile. Push on a stick and it jumps across the sky at an alarming speed. With a little more practice it can jump around the sky under control surprisingly fast and well. It’s light and yet tough enough to bounce off a few floors and walls without a chance of damage and at it’s price its good to learn with. It has a range of around 50 metres and a endurance of about 5 to 7 minutes depending on if you use the camera.
I would recommend buying spare extra batteries as the recharge time of around an hour will get very frustrating otherwise. It’s much better to run out one battery and then just pop the next one in.
The X5C also has a couple of built in tricks including the ability to do a complete barrel roll. This is frankly terrifying the first time you try it (tip – make sure you’re high above the ground) but once you’ve mastered doing it at speed is very impressive.
There are two models of the X5 – the X5 and the X5c. The X5c has a small camera built into it which although it is of low resolution taking 2 megapixel 640 x 480 pictures. The quality is not great and as the camera is fixed and not gimballed and it bounces up and down a lot and it also can be hard to aim. All of that said it does give you ability to take pictures from the air and with a little practice and luck can be useful. I used it to take video of the gutters of my house and was able to confirm that I had to get up there and unblock them.
The video and pictures record onto a microSD card. Note that some of the specification I have read says that a 2GB card is included – it was not with mine and it was not listed on the packaging so I’m guessing this has been withdrawn.
Syma Toys is a Chinese industrial company based in Guangdong China. They design and manufacture several types of electric toys including quadcopters, helicopters, and remote control cars.
Included in the box
The X5c Quadcopter, a screwdriver, the blades, blade protectors, the remote control, a short instruction manual, one battery, a USB adaptor to charge the battery.
Camera: 2 Megapixel
Battery: removable 3.7V 500mAh
Controller battery 4 AA
Charge time: About an hour and a half on USB
Range: about 50 metres
Dimensions 41 x 30.5 cm
Warranty: Standard consumer protection regulations allowing return for a refund within 30 days of arrival.
The X5C is aimed at the market of people who want to try flying a drone but don’t know where to begin or want to invest too much money into something they are not sure about. The idea is to learn good habits and get used to one simple thing before stretching your wings a bit more with a bigger drone.
Ease of use
Setting the X5C up when it arrived was straightforward. Plug in and charge the battery and fit the propellers and the prop guards. Put the charged battery in the drone and close the power compartment. Put batteries in the controller and switch both on.
When you first switch on you need to set the gyros – this is simple. Make sure the drone is on a flat surface and then lift the throttle to full then back down very quickly.
At this point unless you’ve flown drones before you need to practice very carefully and slowly. My first attempt to lift off had the X5C rocket into the air and then slam sideways into a wall. After that I tried in the middle of an empty field and had a lot more success with less things to run into.
Until you get practised at it I’d recommend the biggest open space you can find on a day with as little wind as possible. The battery only lasts 5 minutes and takes an hour and a half to charge so I’d recommend buying a couple of spares when you order the drone at around £6 for two.
It is accessible to anyone with a mild-moderate visual impairment, including the blind and those who experience visual symptoms, like photophobia (light sensitivity), eye strain or colour blindness. You need good enough vision to be able to watch the drone but there are no dials or feedback on the controller and when flying you do not look down! The X5C has four lights on the base which let you discern its orientation (and theoretically fly at night). These are orange in the front and green at the back and may present a problem for someone with red / green colour-blindness but the camera can be used to discern orientation instead.
It is accessible to anyone with moderate – severe hearing impairment, including the deaf and those who experience auditory symptoms, like tinnitus or hyperacusis (sound sensitivity). The X5c’s controls have no audio element and the drone itself is surprisingly quiet from a distance of over a couple of metres.
It isn’t accessible to anyone with a mild – moderate upper body impairment and those who experience symptoms that affect their hands, wrists and shoulders, like a tremor, fatigue, reduced dexterity or precision.
Like most drones the X5c has a complicated set of controls that let it move in three dimensions and that control special functions like the camera. Unlike a plane a quad-copter has no inherent lift – turn the rotors down and it drops from the sky like a rock. To fly it you need to be able to control two separate joysticks and push occasional extra buttons. The controls are very light to touch which means that although you need control you do not need any particular strength.
Movement and mobility
It is accessible to anyone with a mild – moderate mobility impairment, including wheelchair users and those who experience physical symptoms, like severe fatigue or chronic pain. There is no mobility requirement to use. Whilst the X5c is fast it is range limited to around 50 metres and the operator will usually stand fairly still when flying meaning that there is no real mobility requirement.
Motion sickness and balance disorders
It is accessible to anyone who experiences a mild motion sickness or dizzy spells. The operator stands steady on the ground but I found that you unsurprisingly have to watch the drone carefully and if it is moving fast this might cause motion sickness if you are more vulnerable to it.
It is accessible to anyone with a mild – moderate cognitive impairment, including those with a learning disability like dyslexia and those who experience cognitive symptoms, like problems with memory, concentration, planning and organization. The X5C is as simple as a drone can be and with a little practice should be accessible to those with mild cognitive symptoms.
If you have been looking at drones and quadcopters with longing from afar I have good news – it is affordable now. The X5C represents the bottom of the market but is a full size and real drone as opposed to the mini-copters you can also buy. It’s basic but a great place to start and to learn good habits on. Crashing and breaking this would be annoying. Crashing and breaking a full size multi-hundred pound drone would be far more so. Highly recommended.
The review is based on the Syma X5C Explorers 2.4G 4CH RC Quadcopter Version 2. This post contains affiliate links. First published on 15th August 2015