2014 UDI U818A Quadcopter Review: Best Sub $100 Quadcopter Drone?

UDI U818A Quadcopter - What's The Big Deal?

I'm always a fan of drones that don't cost an arm and a leg to afford, and the UDI U818A Quadcopter fits the bill nicely, coming in at well under $100. I'm an unabashed fan of my Phantom 2 Vision+, but there are often situations where I don't want to put a $1000 drone at risk, such as when flying a drone in a foreign country, or when flying a drone over water. Drones like the UDI U818A Quadcopter are excellent low-risk drones for beginners and experts who want to save the more expensive gear for safer situations.

 Structure, Design, and Guts

First of all, I'm a fan of the design; it reminds me of my Parrot AR Drone, except that you can't switch the hulls. Oh, and it's a lot cheaper. However, something I've noticed about a lot of the sub $100 drones is that they look rather childish and come with silly names, such as Bumblebee, Fly, Bug, and so on. Because I'm not a character in Finding Nemo or Toy Story, I find it hard to take such drones seriously, and I doubt many other grown men and women who enjoy flying RC helicopters, quads, and drones would take them seriously either.

Fortunately, the UDI U818A Quadcopter appeals to my sense of style (or shallowness? Depends on if you're asking my wife...), and UDI realized that simply because they were selling a budget drone didn't mean they had to make it look and sound silly. I also like how it's a decent size, and I also like how slick and professional it looks. Let's face it; everything probably looks better in black. That said, it's also available in white, which is nice if you want it to match your Phantoms.

Stats wise, the UDI U818A Quadcopter shares a lot with its fellow budget drones. There's a 4 channel radio transmitter and a 6 axis gyroscopic system that's designed to aid in stable flight and mid-air corrections. I like the fact that the radio controller also includes an LCD screen with extra information regarding the drone's progress, such as what the cameras are up to, the amount of power you're sending to the props, and so on. It's a 2.4 GHZ radio, which is pretty typical for pretty much all RC helis and quads these days. The radio also lets you switch back and forth between beginner and advanced modes, or Mode 1 and Mode 2, respectively. The second mode is for people who enjoy pulling aerial stunts with drones, while the first is for people who are giving in to the 20th request by their children to have a turn (don't ask me how I know this). The second mode is also better for outdoors, since you can fly faster with it.

The real element that sets the UDI U818A Quadcopter aside from other drones is that it is the cheapest drone that lets you take pictures and video, thanks to a video camera attached at the base of the drone. The camera is no GoPro; let's make that clear from the start. It's also nothing like the high-definition cameras included on the Phantom 2 Vision+, Vision, or even the FC40, but if you simply want proof that you were flying over that high speed chase when it took place on Main Street, this is as good a way as any to make that happen. To pull the video from the camera, you simply connect a USB cable from the drone's camera to your laptop or desktop.

When I picked up my UDI U818A Quadcopter from Amazon (well, I technically didn't pick it up from Amazon; I picked it up from my mail carrier, but you get the idea), I was looking forward to seeing what was included in the box, as I've had a variety of not-so-good experiences from budget drone manufacturers. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only was the UDI U818A Quadcopter itself present and in undamaged condition, so was the radio transmitter and the 500 mAH LiPo battery that powers it. Keep in mind that you'll still need 3 AAA batteries to fly, as those are what power the radio, and they don't come in the package. You can't have everything. However, you do get some extra parts too, which is great, since beginners are almost certainly going to have a few crashes while earning their flight wings.

What's It Like to Use It?
This is my favorite part of any review, and let's be honest: it's why you've read this far. Flying the UDI U818A Quadcopter is a fun experience; that part is pretty much consistent among most drones, and the UDI quadricopter is no exception. I'm used to flying Phantom drones, but even though the experience is a different one, it's not a bad one to take the UDI U818A Quadcopter to the sky. You do have to keep in mind that the battery life is only around 10 minutes, and that's if you're not whizzing around doing tricks left and right. However, speaking of tricks, here's what you can do with the drone with a bit of practice:

You can fly forward and backward, up and down, and left and right, of course. I mention this not because it's novel, but because I've flown some drones that didn't let you do these things because of how poorly balanced they were. Most of these ended up in my neighbor's yard, which is part of why my neighbor has a very tall fence. But beyond basic flight stuff, you can also hover and do a number of 360 degree flips while in the advanced mode. And yes, photo and video is possible.

Overall, it's a fun little quadcopter that can be flown both indoors and outdoors and figured out in a rather short amount of time. It's not going to break speed or altitude records, but you can definitely have several fun afternoons with it, or hook up additional LEDs to the underbody and do some nighttime flying, although this will cut into your battery life somewhat.

My least favorite part of the UDI U818A Quadcopter is the battery life. The batteries simply take too long to charge (around 2 hours each time), and your flight time is only 10 minutes or so if you fly carefully. I ended up buying about 6 extra so I could swap them in as needed. I also wish you had a longer range available than 100 feet, or 30 meters, because I enjoy flying higher and farther than that, and you'd be surprised how short 100 feet is. And finally, while it's a decent-sized drone, it's also a light one, so you'll want to avoid flying in high winds.

Should I Buy It?

In short, yes. The fact that you can get a functional drone that's reasonably sturdy, looks professional, or at least discreet, and is capable of shooting rudimentary video for under $100 is enough for me to keep this drone in my garage alongside much more expensive machines.

I completely recommend the UDI U818A Quadcopter. You can buy it from Amazon in black here or buy it in white here. Extra batteries are available here. I recommend picking up at least 3 to have a decent flying experience.


Hi! My name is Mike, and I'm the author of this personal drone blog. If you find the information on my flying drone review blog useful, you can shop through Amazon here.

No comments:

Post a Comment