If you had to choose two technologies that have come to define the current era it would have to be artificial intelligence (AI) and drone technology. The new HOVERAir X1 drone combines both into an impressive pocket-sized drone that can automatically track you for a variety of impressive shots. Not only can you fit this drone in your pocket, but it’s designed specifically to be easy to use with autonomous flying modes that let you capture shots with a single button press. The HOVERAir X1 is available for $389 or the $439 combo package we have in this review that includes a second battery and charging cradle. Despite its diminutive size, the drone is capable of 2.7K / 30 FPS video and includes 32gb of internal memory storage. To enable the drone to fly within seconds, it uses Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) which is a camera based positioning algorithm that eliminates the usual delay with traditional GPS systems.
The HOVERAir X1 is an impressive pocket sized drone that can autonomously track you and capture unique shots with a single button press.
|Retail Price||$389 / $439 (combo w/ 2nd battery + charger)|
|Rating||9.7 / 10|
|Measured Weight (in g)||127 (drone + battery), 40 (battery)|
|Likes||+ Compact form factor|
+ Impressive tracking and collision avoidance
+ Captures smooth and unique video
|Dislikes||– Motors are obnoxiously loud|
– Audio prompt volume can not be lowered
– No removable or expandable memory option
|Where to Buy (US)||TheHover|
The HOVERAir X1 combo comes in a simple cardboard box with basic HOVERAir X1 branding printed directly on it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- HOVERAir X1 drone
- Fabric carrying bag
- USB-C charging cable
- Second battery
- Charging hub
- Quick start guide
- Instruction manual
For the price of the drone, the packaging is surprisingly simple and eliminates any waste. The fabric carrying bag is also a nice touch and looks premium with a white finish and HOVER printed onto it.
FIT & FINISH
Each battery is only 1050 mAh and has approximately 11 minutes of flight time which means you need to be frugal with your shots. You can recharge the battery in 55 minutes using the USB-C port directly on the side of the drone or use the optional charging hub to charge it in only 35 minutes. We’d highly recommend getting the combo with dual batteries and charging hub to get the most out of the drone. There are also four LEDs above the drone that show the battery status which is quite helpful to ensure you don’t run out of battery mid-flight. A single press on the power button illuminates the battery indicators which lets you quickly check the status of the batteries.
On the top of the drone you’ll find the main user controls with 6 LEDs arranged in a ring about two buttons. Holding the bottom button powers the drone on or off while the glossy center button lets you switch between the different flight modes with helpful icons next to each to identify the mode. As you switch between each mode the LED turns on and you get a pleasant British female voice telling you what mode is selected. The audio level is quite loud with no volume control so it’s quite hard to be stealthy with this drone in public locations. There is also a second forward facing LED that is used to communicate the status of the drone which alternates between red (flying/recording), yellow (something is wrong) and green (ready to land).
The HOVERAir X1 has an integrated single-axis gimbal that works in conjunction with electronic image stabilization (EIS) to create smooth video. Additionally, the camera is mounting on bushing to help dampen out any vibrations. The camera is capable of 2.7k 30 FPS video as well as 1080P in either 30 FPS or 60 FPS for slow motion shots. Compared to higher-end drones, the camera specs aren’t particularly impressive but are more than enough for social media or personal use. There is an additional downward facing camera that is used as part of the VIO system to determine the drone’s height. It’s a clever setup that eliminates the usual GPS connection lag and lets you launch the drone nearly anywhere.
Unlike most drones which require practice and training to fly properly, the HOVERAir X1 was specifically designed to be user friendly. That means the drone offers a number of autonomous flight modes which let you capture unique video with simple button press. There are six main modes:
- Hover – This acts like a virtual tripod and holds the drone at a steady height. You can have the camera track you or disable the option via the app.
- Zoom out – The drone will fly in an arc away from you and then back. From the app you can adjust the distance and altitude variation. This captures two video clips, the outward flight and then the return flight
- Orbit – The drone rotates around you at a set distance. Using the app you can customize altitude, radius and angle.
- Follow – This is one of our favorite modes and allows the drone to autonomously follow you. With this you can capture some unique video footage without the need for expensive equipment or crew. Note, the obstacle avoidance is active while following and alters the flight path to avoid collisions. With the app you can adjust the altitude and distance.
- Birds Eye – As the name implies, the drone captures a bird eye shot of you by flying upward while rotating around. Using the app you can adjust rotation speed and altitude. As with zoom out mode, the drone captures the upward flight and downward flight as two separate clips.
- Dolly Track – As with the follow feature, the drone will autonomously follow you but with the drone staying ahead of you and capturing your face. The position and angle of the drone can be adjusted by simply physically moving side to side.
What’s so impressive about the HOVERAir X1 is that you simply have to hold out your hand and then press the main power button to launch the drone. The indicator light on the drone changes to green to red once the video capture starts and it starts to follow the chosen trajectory of the mode. Aside from customizing the settings, you don’t need the app to fly the drone and can leave your cell phone in your pocket. Once the flight trajectory is complete or the specified duration is met the drone light switches to green and it will wait for you to put your palm out underneath it for it to land. It’s a seamless process that allows you capture footage within seconds with the entire flight and object tracking happening autonomously. The only thing to note is that the drone is quite loud, so don’t expect to be stealthy when flying the drone as everyone will hear it.
Note, there is also a manual flight mode option that is accessible only via the app. This gives you full control over the drone height, camera angle and pitch/yaw. The app shows you a live preview of the camera feed which allows you to capture cinematic shots or fine tune the framing of a shot for photos. There are basic controls for height, angle and camera position which are all intuitive to use. The touch screen controls aren’t as responsive as a remote control though, so capturing more complicated flight paths can be difficult in manual mode. You can pair a remote control though if you want to capture more complicated manual shots.
As a part of the initial setup, the drone has to be paired with the HOVER app. It’s a well designed app with four tabs and an attractive user interface. Despite the relatively small size of the company, the design and text on the app is all properly translated and intuitive to use. Once you’ve connected to the drone you can view all the capture images and photos as well as customize each of the flight mode settings. Controls such as altitude or distance let you fine tune the flight trajectories to capture closer details or wider shots. Sleek animations illustrate what each mode does and all the modes are listed in a tile page which allows you to quickly try them all out. Once you’ve done a few flights the manual modes and other advanced features become unlocked. This gamification approach is a fun design and motivates you to try all the modes at least once.
Even though the camera specs aren’t particularly impressive on paper at 2.7k @ 30 FPS the combination of the electronic video stabilization and one axis gimbal captures smooth and crisp video. We used the drone’s follow and dolly track modes to capture running and cycling footage and were impressed with the resulting video. The drone does an excellent job keeping you centered in the frame even as you accelerate or rotate. The built-in obstacle avoidance also means you can capture video on tight trails or paths without having to worry about the drone crashing. The vision based height system means the drone isn’t designed for low light conditions, but for everything else we found the video quality to be excellent. With it’s unique tracking features and angles, the HOVERAir X1’s footage is perfect for content creators or those looking to capture special moments. Note, the drone can also capture audio through the app with the motor noise automatically removed with is a cool way to capture audio while flying.
Overall, we found the HOVERAir X1 to be a highly portable and capable drone. Unlike other drones which are dificult to fly and easy to crash, the HOVERAir X1 offers a variety of autonomous flight modes which allows you to fly the drone with a single press of a button. We were impressed with the object tracking and collision avoidance algorithms which allow the drone to automatically track you while avoiding obstacles in its flight path. The dolly track and orbit modes are our favorites as they capture unique angles you couldn’t capture without expensive gimbals or camera crew. While the compact HOVERAir X1 doesn’t match the video quality and precision of higher-end large drones, the 2.7K 30 FPS video is crisp and smooth. The only downsides of the drone is the fact that the motors and audio prompts are quite loud. That said, if you’re looking for an autonomous drone to capture unique video or photos the HOVERAir X1 is an impressive portable option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by ZeroZero. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.