Flying your first drone can be nerve wracking and spending hundreds of dollars on something that you could crash into a tree and loose forever. Budget drones haven’t had the best reputation, limited distance and finicky Bluetooth connectivity made them feel like a waste of money. Enter the Altair AA200 who is looking to redefine what it means to be budget.
The Altair AA200 is an entry level drone aimed at the inexperienced drone flyer, in fact, they’re pushing this as the perfect drone for kids. Not having children of my own and not wanting to break any child labor laws, I did the next best thing and got my 70 year old dad to be my Guinea pig. I should add the disclaimer that my dad is quite tech savvy but probably not as tech savvy as an 8 year old (but who is these days!?).
If you haven’t heard of Altair don’t worry, neither had I, but a bit of research and I found out they’re known for high-quality and affordable drones. The reason we picked the AA200 for review was because it has an Autonomous Hovering & Positioning System which is something you don’t see at this price point. Oh, didn’t I mention it is only $129.80!
Overview of the Altair AA200 capabilities
– Autonomous Hovering & Positioning System
– Can be controlled up to 50 meters
– 8-10 minutes of flying time (2 batteries included for double the flytime)
– 3 flight speed modes
– Can fly heights up to 15 meters
– 720p camera for photos and video 120 degree view
– Weighs 147 grams
The Altair AA200 with either the controller which takes 4 AA batteries or your smartphone and their app. We opted to use the controller rather than the app 99% of the time because the buttons are tactile so you can control it by touch without having to look at the screen. You’ll need a screw driver to take the bottom of, so you’ll want to have the on hand before you head out to go flying.
The set up for the battery is ideal, you get 2 batteries in the box and they charge by Micro USB (we’d prefer USB Type C, bit this is a first world problem that most people can survive). The batteries take roughly an hour to charge up, so it’s not like you can have them on fast rotation to keep the fun going. Having said that we were more than happy to take a break after the second battery, the excitement was more than enough for us!
Autonomous Hovering & Positioning System
This is an advanced feature on an extremely affordable drone, we wanted to test just how well it worked and if it would be useful to beginner pilots. As we began flying the drone, it stayed in a hovering position fairly well.
Our first flight was a little windy, so when the breeze calmed down we pulled the manual out again and trimmed it since it was leaning right. Probably due to the fact that on it’s first flight it had to fight some winds. To be honest, we did loose control of the drone once or twice and it survived the landing no problem!
We like it when drones have multiple flight modes, it gives us something to grow into skill wise as we become more comfortable flying. The AA200 comes with three different flight modes There is custom flight routing where you draw a route with the app and watch the AA200 follow it’s path. We also have headless mode, one key take off and landing & altitude hold.
It’s very easy to toggle between these flight modes as well. If you’re just using the controller, you press down on the right stick of the controller and listen for beeps. One beep indicates that you’re in the slowest mode. We would recommend any beginner pilot to fly in the mode as they perfect their flying skills. If you press the stick again, you will hear two beeps. This means you’re in an intermediate mode with a little faster speed. We really enjoyed this mode. A perfect in-between setting that isn’t too slow, and isn’t too fast. Finally, if you press the stick a third time there will be three beeps and you’re in the most advanced mode. The third mode is the fastest mode on the AA200 that seasoned drone pilots will enjoy.
Flight Time and Range
Flight time and range are bit factors when flying a drone. One battery on the AA200 gives you about 8-10 minutes of flying time, but as we mentioned the AA200 come with two batteries which doubles your time.
You can fly the AA200 at a range of about 50 meters. More expensive drones can fly much further, but 50 meters is an impressive range for what you’re paying for. We also like that this is a range where you can still the the drone, many drones with a massive range you loose sight completely. This range is good for beginners as well who may not be confident flying as far of distances just yet.
If you’re looking for a drone to do aerial photography, this won’t be a good fit. We do have a 720p vidoe camera that is capable of stills. This drone is great for practicing pans and zooms and learning the logistics of how you use a drone to take phoots. The camera quality is a lacking, but hey, you can’t have it all for $130!
It’s a steal at $130, we’re impressed by the high end features with such a budget price tag.
What’s in the box:
– 1 x Fully Assembled Drone
– 2 x Li-ion batteries
– 1 x Charging Cable
– 1 x User Manual
– 1 x Spare Parts Pack
– 1 x Phone Mount
– 1 x Transmitter
Altair wanted me to include a link to an article that deals specifically with drones for kids, since I didn’t have any around and if you’re thinking of buying this for your kid, I suggest you check it out!