HoverAir X1 review: More fun than you can shake a selfie stick at

2 weeks ago 66

With constricted capabilities for manual flight, the HoverAir X1 is aimed squarely astatine capturing tracking shots of the idiosyncratic and/or the radical astir them, acknowledgment to intelligent tracking algorithms. This tiny and lightweight drone features built-in propeller guards for safety, and takes disconnected and lands from the thenar of your hand. It’s incredibly casual to use, offering video seizure of up to 2.7K astatine 30fps and 12-megapixel photos utilizing the basal point-and-shoot camera.


  • +

    Easy to use, tiny and lightweight

  • +

    Smooth 2.7K video

  • +

    Intelligent tracking algorithms


  • -

    Limited manual formation capabilities

  • -

    App controls for manual formation are awkwardly placed

  • -

    Almost arsenic costly arsenic the DJI Mini 2 SE

Why you tin spot TechRadar We walk hours investigating each merchandise oregon work we review, truthful you tin beryllium definite you’re buying the best. Find retired much astir however we test.

Two-minute review

It’s ever breathtaking to effort thing different, and with Zero Zero Robotics' HoverAir X1, you get an easy-to-use drone that galore radical aptly picture arsenic a flying selfie stick. Selfie sticks person themselves go a root of ridicule successful the photography world, but don’t fto that statement of the X1 enactment you off, due to the fact that it’s incredibly elemental to get-going, harmless and, champion of all, it’s a full batch of fun. What’s more, it performs incredibly good erstwhile it comes to tracking subjects autonomously.

Most drones travel a akin trajectory successful presumption of features, functionality and usage cases, truthful it’s refreshing to spot a drone that breaks from the norm to bushed a distinctive way successful an progressively crowded market. So overmuch so, that I’d confidently urge the HoverAir X1 arsenic being 1 of the best beginner drones available. It whitethorn beryllium acold from being 1 of the best drones successful presumption of manual formation capabilities, which we’ll screen later, but for capturing tracking shots of static and moving subjects utilizing a assortment of intelligent formation paths, it’s an astonishingly capable performer.

The HoverAir X1 is disposable successful some achromatic and white. It’s disposable Device Only, which includes 1 battery, a USB-C cablegram for charging and a brushed drawstring container for retention and proscription for $349 / £345 / €388, portion the better-value Combo kit includes each of the above, positive a two-battery charging hub and a 2nd artillery for $399 / £395 / €448. 

With formation times typically coming successful astatine 9-10 minutes per battery, arsenic opposed to the 11 minutes stated, it makes consciousness to opt for the Combo kit. The X1 surely isn’t inexpensive, and astatine the clip of penning it’s lone shipping to the United States, United Kingdom and Germany; but it should beryllium disposable connected Amazon successful precocious September/early October 2023.

HoverAir X1 Combo kit laid retired  connected  wood

(Image credit: James Abbott)

This palm-sized drone is highly compact and lightweight acknowledgment to a folding plan that takes it from 5 x 3.4 x 1.2 inches/ 127 x 86 x 31mm erstwhile folded, to 5 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches / 127 x 145 x 30mm erstwhile unfolded for flight. And with a value of conscionable 4.4oz / 125g including a battery, you tin instrumentality the X1 anyplace without adjacent noticing that you’re carrying it. Plus, the propellers are encased successful imperishable propeller guards, which alongside the tiny size and debased value marque it incredibly harmless to alert astir radical and indoors. So, on with its formation modes, the X1 is besides unsocial successful its design.

The power layout connected the drone airframe comprises conscionable 2 buttons; 1 powerfulness fastener that besides doubles up arsenic a start/take-off button, and a 2nd that’s utilized to prime the desired intelligent formation path. Activate the HoverAir X1 from wrong the app, and you tin usage the drone without the app for speedy setup and casual captures, wherever the video footage and/or stills tin beryllium downloaded from the 32GB of onboard retention to your smartphone erstwhile the X1 and app are connected via Wi-Fi. Photos and videos tin past beryllium shared via the HoverAir X1 app and its community, shared straight to societal media, oregon downloaded to a machine for editing and sharing.

With a drone that’s mostly aimed astatine autonomous flight, the X1 provides plentifulness of intelligent formation paths that marque capturing stabilised video a breeze. These see Orbit, Follow, Reveal, Overhead, Hover, Custom and Manual Control. Custom paths see Dolly Track, wherever the X1 faces you and flies backwards successful beforehand of you, and Snapshot, wherever the X1 flies successful beforehand of you and takes a photo.

All the intelligent formation paths enactment exceptionally good acknowledgment to the VIO (Visual Inertial Odometry) positioning system. This is an effectual system, but it isn't collision avoidance arsenic we cognize it, truthful you inactive person to instrumentality attraction astir obstacles specified arsenic trees – although, during testing, the X1 navigated immoderate beauteous tricky environments exceptionally well. The intelligent formation paths and VIO positioning system, combined with the tiny size, airy weight, simplicity and velocity of setup, are thing that would beryllium astonishing to spot successful DJI Mini-series drones.

HoverAir X1 unfolded connected  a portion   of wood

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Moving backmost to the intelligent formation paths, immoderate parameters tin beryllium changed with the paths, specified arsenic taxable region and height, which keeps things simple; but there’s nary scope for much in-depth customisation. Custom modes person to beryllium acceptable wrong the app, and the last-used Custom way remains progressive wrong the Custom enactment connected the drone until it’s changed.

Manual Control, and downloading photos and videos, necessitate the app to link to the X1’s Wi-Fi. This takes lone astir 5 seconds and, during testing, we didn't acquisition immoderate issues with the transportation erstwhile flying manually oregon downloading photos and videos to my Samsung Galaxy 23 Ultra. As you’d expect, the app is disposable for some Android and iOS, and it’s incredibly elemental to navigate, with adjacent tips and tutorial videos successful the Modes section.

HoverAir X1 smartphone app

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Manual Control wrong the app is capable astatine best, chiefly owed to the awkward layout of the controls successful upright format, wherever the camera presumption is astatine the apical and the 2 on-screen controls beryllium vertically. This makes it hard to harvester immoderate commands. For instance, the X1 tin beryllium flown guardant and rolled near oregon close astatine the aforesaid time, but it would beryllium overmuch amended if the camera presumption was full-screen horizontally, with the controls overlaid arsenic they are successful first-person smartphone games.

Manual formation tin lone beryllium achieved for 30 seconds erstwhile flying forwards oregon backwards, and the X1 appears to alert astatine a velocity of 1m/s, which fits with the maximum transmission scope of 30m. In presumption of altitude, the X1 tin alert up to 15m. The upwind absorption is 17.7mph, and adjacent successful winds astir this speed, the operation of the 2-axis gimbal (tilt axis) and Electronic Image Stabilisation enactment good to seizure creaseless video. However, Jello (wobble) tin look successful videos erstwhile shooting successful higher winds.

HoverAir X1 video sample

The video supra is 2.7K 30fps

Image prime for some photos and videos is champion successful brighter light, which isn't astonishing fixed the camera's tiny sensor. There are nary adjustable settings disposable for photos, but for Standard (single shot) and Burst, which are captured successful 4,000 x 3,000/12-megapixel JPEG format. Photo processing is dense and disposable successful adjacent what should beryllium debased ISO images, and since the ISO is accrued by the automatic camera, processing becomes noticeably heavier. It isn't the extremity of the world, though, due to the fact that the X1 is champion for video-tracking shots, which is wherever it excels.

Video prime is mostly amended than photos, though successful lower-light conditions, sound is evident successful footage. Camera power remains constricted here, too, with it lone disposable crossed 3 presets: 2.7K astatine 30fps, 1080p astatine 60fps and 1080p (HDR) astatine 30fps. To beryllium wholly fair, though, this drone isn't aimed astatine nonrecreational use, though it could beryllium fantastic for contented creators and YouTubers, and galore radical volition undoubtedly find the X1 a immense magnitude of fun.

HoverAir X1 photograph samples

Basic scenery  photograph  taken with the HoverAir X1

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Should I bargain the HoverAir X1?

HoverAir X1 successful  the thenar  of a hand

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Speed and simplicity are essential
The X1 tin beryllium acceptable up and flown wrong astir 10 seconds, without the request to usage the app to prime the desired intelligent formation path. Not to mention, it takes disconnected and lands successful the thenar of your hand.

You’d similar an autonomous drone
With aggregate intelligent formation paths for tracking static and moving subjects, you tin easy seizure photos and videos of yourself, household and friends. Image stabilisation for video seizure is besides excellent.

You’d similar a tiny, lightweight drone
Being foldable, palm-sized erstwhile unfolded, and with a value of conscionable 4.4oz / 125g, the X1 is truthful tiny and lightweight that you tin transportation it astir each time without adjacent noticing. The encased propellers besides marque it harmless to alert adjacent to radical and indoors.

Don't bargain it if...

Manual formation is your main aim
The X1 is each astir intelligent autonomous flight, offering constricted manual formation capabilities. If you request to alert further, faster and higher, a modular camera drone would beryllium a overmuch amended enactment for you.

You necessitate camera control
If power implicit camera settings is important to you, arsenic good arsenic higher-resolution photos and videos, then, erstwhile again, a modular camera drone would beryllium a amended choice. And if you’re connected a budget, the DJI Mini 2 SE is lone marginally much costly than the X1.

You request longer formation times
Fight times present typically travel successful astatine 9-10 minutes per battery, which is plentifulness of clip erstwhile utilizing the intelligent formation paths. If you’d similar longer formation times past a larger drone with a higher-capacity artillery is the lone option.

How I tested the HoverAir X1

The HoverAir X1 was tested implicit respective days of flying successful a scope of locations to trial each of the intelligent formation paths, arsenic good arsenic manual formation power done the Hover X1 app. This not lone allowed maine to trial formation and diagnostic performance, but I could besides asses representation prime of photos and videos successful agleam and low-light conditions. All investigating was conducted successful a mode that meets section aviation laws and restrictions to guarantee that each flights were harmless and legal.

With astir 30 years of photographic acquisition and 15 years moving arsenic a photography journalist, I’ve been covering drones successful presumption of shooting and editing techniques, alongside penning drone reviews for galore years. As good arsenic flying astir user and prosumer models, I’ve antecedently held a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority successful the UK, and present alert nether an A2 CofC (A2 Certificate of Competency).

First reviewed August 2023

James Abbott

James Abbott is simply a nonrecreational lensman and freelance photography journalist. He contributes articles astir photography, cameras and drones to a wide scope of magazines and websites wherever helium applies a wealthiness of acquisition to investigating the latest photographic tech. James is besides the writer of ‘The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing’.

Read Entire Article