[Review] Air Hogs DR1 – Cheap FPV racing drone with VR goggles

Today we’re putting another drone from Air Hogs to the test, only this time, things get a little bit more interesting. Two drones of theirs that I reviewed so far, Hyper Stunt Drone and Hyper Drift Drone, were lacking a lot of the features that you’d come to expect from a drone. Air Hogs DR1 FPV Race Drone seemed to have fixed some of the issues I raised with previous models, but not all of them.

What makes it stand out are the VR goggles that offer fully immersive FPV drone racing. I have to point out that you shouldn’t mistake Air Hogs DR1 FPV Race Drone with Air Hogs DR1 Micro Race Drone, which is smaller and doesn’t have FPV.

 

Air Hogs DR1 Review

Air Hogs is a toy manufacturer based in Canada. Their parent company, Spin Master, a toy maker which has offices all over the world. What this means is that Air Hogs is available for purchase all across Canada, USA, UK and mainland Europe.

We’re talking not just Amazon, but also national store chains like Wall-mart in US and Argos in the UK. In other words, after sale support should be easier than it is with Chinese based manufacturers. DR1 is aimed at kids ages 10 and higher and is priced at a rather steep $100. Currently though it’s on sale for $65.

Quick specs

  • Dimensions folded: N/A
  • Dimensions unfolded: 11.5×11.5x3cm
  • Weight: 200g
  • Battery type/size: 1s Lipo 140mAh
  • Battery replaceable: no, built-in
  • Charge time: 40-60 minutes, USB
  • Flight time: 5 minutes
  • GPS positioning: N/A
  • microSD support: N/A

  • Camera: yes, 480p
  • Camera adjustable: yes, tilt up/down
  • Transmitter: physical transmitter
  • Transmitter battery: 2 AAA batteries
  • Distance: about 60 meters
  • Wifi technology: 2.4Ghz, 100 meters
  • VR support: yes, VR goggles + VR app
  • Special features: FPV video, altitude hold, VR goggles, tricks

What makes Air Hogs DR1 FPV Race Drone interesting?

  • Small size – compact design makes it easy to transport the drone and allows indoor use
  • Transmitter – small transmitter with dedicated buttons for adjusting trim and performing tricks
  • Camera – unlike Hyper Stunt and Hyper Drift drones, DR1 has a camera albeit only 480p
  • FPV mode – use the smartphone app to stream video from drone camera
  • Altitude hold – barometric sensors will hold the drone at a set height without it falling down
  • Adjustable difficulty – two difficulty settings are available for beginners and advanced users
  • Additional – gyro stabilization, flips and 3D rolls, VR goggles, one-key take off/landing, spare blades

What could have been done better?

  • No headless mode – drone doesn’t have headless mode, which would be nice to have
  • Non-replaceable battery – battery can’t be easily replaced, it’s soldered in

Air Hogs DR1 review

design, specs, pros, cons

Drone design

Air Hogs DR1 Drone measures just 11.5cm in width/length and lowly 3cm in height. It’s not the smallest drone out there, but it still small enough for both indoor and outdoor use.

Blades have protective rings around them that help during bumps and crashes. At the front of the drone you’ll find a tilt adjustable FPV camera and at the back a small wifi antenna sticks out.

Drone body is shaped like a football and build quality is pretty decent. It has to be, since bumps and crashes are guarenteed for a FPV racing drone like this.

DR1 FPV comes with VR goggles that can be used to fully immerse yourself during FPV racing sessions. These are not goggles with a built-in display. You will need to use your smartphone with the Air Hogs FPV app in order to actually display an image.

This type of goggles can be purchased for $10-20 off of eBay, so Air Hogs including them is something, but at the same time it’s not much.

 

Air Hogs DR1 review

in-depth view

Camera

Air Hogs DR1 features a 480p camera that offers decent enough quality. Surprisingly enough there is no jello or wobble effect. Obviously you cannot compare this camera to the one found on more expensive, bigger drones from Hubsan, Syma and other more established brands.

Keep in mind that DR1 is aimed at kids ages 10 and up. There’s no point in including a more expensive camera, add to the price, for something that’s going to be collecting dust in a closet in a matter of weeks.

Camera is simple and does the job its supposed to. Oh, and it also has 90° up/down tilt for adjusting the camera field of view.

FPV test flight and video sample

Quality of the FPV video can be seen down below. As I already mentioned you can’t really expect much from this teeny-tiny drone and its even teenier-tinier camera. Video quality is good enough for maneuvering the drone through obstacles and that’s pretty much it.

FPV connection doesn’t have lag of any kind, which is a good thing. It’d be pointless having VR FPV that lags on a racing drone where speed is very important.

You can record video to the smartphone using the app. Air Hogs FPV app offers basic editing of the recorded video. You can do things like add smiles, stickers and effects (lasers, explosions) before publishing the video to a social media account straight from the app. As far as FPV goes everything runs smooth and without any kind of hiccups.

Transmitter

Air Hogs DR1 transmitter is rather small, but I guess it’s large enough for kids hands. Notice that the transmitter is somewhat ergonomic, with the extending grips at the bottom. Large green button in the middle is the on/off switch. One-key take off/landing is just below it.

All the way at the bottom there’s a switch for putting the drone in either beginner or advanced work mode. Left joystick adjusts throttle and manages yaw, while the right controls pitch and roll.

Buttons for adjusting trim are strung along the right joystick, on the left and on the bottom of it. Lastly there are two dedicated buttons under the left joystick for recording video and taking photos. Right front trigger is for doing tricks.

 

Battery

All the Air Hog drones that I’ve reviewed so far were disappointing when it comes to battery. It’s not that the battery has small capacity or anything like that. The included 140 mAh battery is enough for this micro drone to fly about 5 minutes on a single charge.

What annoys me about batteries of all three drones from Air Hogs that I tested is that it isn’t replaceable. It’s actually soldered on, so even if you open the drone up, you won’t get far in way of replacing the battery without a soldering iron.

Other than having to fly the drone for 5 minutes, then wait about 40-50 minutes for it to charge in order to fly the drone again, I don’t have any other complaint as far as battery goes. By the way, battery charger uses a 5.5mm plug that’s placed at the back of the drone. On the other end you’ll find a standard USB plug.

 

Additional features

I guess now is the time to talk a little bit more about the additional features that DR1 offers, most notably the VR goggles. These goggles require a phone in order to work. Entire front of the goggles opens up revealing a phone slot. It’s the same way that Google Cardboard and dozens of similar VR goggles that can be found on eBay work.

That’s why I’m not really that impressed with their inclusion of “VR goggles”. It’s a nice gimmick for kids to play around with, but if you are a more seasoned drone fun the fun will fade out pretty quickly.

Altitude hold makes for a lot more interesting additional feature. The two aforementioned drones from Air Hogs that I reviewed didn’t have altitude hold, but DR1 rocks a pretty decent altitude hold. Drone will dip down only after doing tricks, but it quickly recovers to the height that it was originally.

I think that beginners will get used to drone flight controls more easily with altitude hold, so it’s nice to see that Air Hogs listened to me and included it with DR1

Tricks are available. Drone does the usual, flips and rolls. To do a trick you need to press down and hold the right front trigger, which is the button for initiating tricks, until you hear three beeps. After that use the right joystick and go up/down for doing a forwards/backwards flip or left/right for doing a left/right roll.

One key take-off/landing button allows you to get the drone up in the air with a push of a button, and to land it more easily, but be careful when landing the drone using this button.

Pushing this button effectively kills the motors and the drone falls from the sky. Make sure to position the drone close to ground and then press the landing button to finish the landing process.

 

 

Flying experience

Flying this drone is a lot of fun, it’s fast and small so it can squeeze through even the tightest of spaces. I took it outside, in my backyard, and setup a small racing path for testing out the FPV.

Everything went smoothly, although the video quality isn’t that great. My fun was ruined by the fact that the battery ran out and I had to charge it for about 50 minutes before going up in the air again.

All in all the drone does work OK, everything is as advertised, just be careful when pushing that one-key landing button to stay close to ground. Otherwise you’ll drop the drone from way up high and it might break. Same thing goes when doing tricks.

 

Summary

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