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DronesWatch Flight Demo – The Holy Stone HS190
Summary of the HS190 drone
**Yes, that’s right, I like to start with a summary as I know you guys don’t necessarily have much time to spare. And yes, this review is based on the assumption that you’re thinking of buying for a child, so it will focus on child-related issues. Ok, let’s do this!!**
The HS190 is a Holy Stone product and as such, I knew it was going to be at least quite good before I opened the box.
Holy Stone are the largest drone manufacturer you’ve probably never heard of. This is due to their focus on toy and mini drones that don’t get the same kind of exposure in the press as the larger, more competent (and much more expensive) models made by DJI et al. In my experience, they make decent quality, keenly priced drones which tend not to bother with gimmicks but which do the basics well.
So I wasn’t surprised when I took the HS190 for a spin, to find that it is a really responsive, fast and fun mini drone. I would definitely recommend it, but the question is to whom…… 🧐
The answer is; not kids! Or at least, not little ones. I’d suggest that for anyone under 10 there are better options.
The first thing I want to point out here is that I’m not exactly sure why the HS190 exists, given that the HS210 also exists (and the 210 came first afaik)! They are both marketed by Holy Stone as being for kids and based on a mixture of my own experience and HS’s write-ups of the two models, I don’t really understand in what way they are meant to be addressing different markets. But, hey, that’s Holy Stone’s marketing team’s problem, not mine! And I have to recognise that the 210 generally retails for around $10 more than the 190, so there’s that…..
One notable thing about this model is that is has been made to fit into as tiny a space as possible. The body of the drone is just 3cm x 3cm and the rotor arms are only around 2cm long; more than that, they fold up, so when not in use the top-down footprint of the drone is only ~4.5cm squared. That is very small! And this is added to by the controller having a space built into the middle of it in which the drone can be placed. Consequently, if you’ve got space for the controller, you’ve got space enough for the whole thing. And further to this, there is a charging cable within that storage space, so you can charge the drone off the controllers batteries if you like (personally, I don’t generally like to do that, given the price of batteries, but at least it is there as an option).
The thing I don’t get about the above features is, who actually wants that sort of thing!? I understand the drive to provide commercial drones in smaller formats; they are relatively bulky and often need to be carried around. But the 190 is a toy. Who really cares whether they are carrying something small or really small when all they’re doing is sticking it in the car and driving to grandma’s to play with the kids?
Anyway, back to more normal considerations; how does the HS190 fly? Well, pretty flipping well actually. It is extremely fast and very, very agile. I know some commercial drone pilots take toy drones around with them so they can practice flying when not on the job, just to keep their eye in. And for anyone who does that, I would definitely recommend this drone. It is incredibly fast to react to inputs in all dimensions and on speed 3 (top speed) it will seriously keep you on your toes.
Ok, that’s the overview. Let’s have a look at some specifics.
Ease of use
Battery clipping in/out – The HS190 comes with one built-in battery. This is a good thing in that it reduces the amount of fiddling around which is often symptomatic of playing with kids drones (although not to zero. The charging port is so tiny, you’ll find yourself struggling just to use that if you suffer from fat finger syndrome at all!). However, it is also a bad thing as it means you have no option to have multiple reserve batteries lined up to extend the play session.
Assembly – You have to attach the propeller guards, which just push on and then you’re ready to go.
Easy to launch? – Not particularly. Considering this is aimed at kids, Holy Stone have messed this bit up. When you turn the drone on you have to first move the left and right sticks down and simultaneously to the left and right respectively. This calibrates the gyroscope. You then have to do the same again, but to the right and left respectively, which unlocks the drone. And then you take off by pushing the left stick up to start the rotors and up again to take off. From an adult’s point of view, this is no big deal, but for a younger child, this is way too much. My eldest kid is currently five and a half and he can’t manage this consistently, which means multiple requests for help coming my way. The annoying/confusing thing is that some toy drones just require the press of a button followed by up on the left stick, so it seems there is no actual need for this complexity.
Easy to trim? – Yes, four buttons on the remote. Couldn’t be easier.
Headless mode? – Yes.
Does the remote turn off automatically to save the battery? – No.
Largely due to the above issue with complicated take-off procedure, the HS190 hasn’t had too many flight hours in our household so I can’t report on how it holds up to a real bashing. But my eldest has played with it a bit, and consequently it has been flown into a wall at least a handful of times, and so far it is handling it well.
My guess is it will probably continue to do so. That is partly because it is very light weight and has flexible propeller guards, which combine to mean that when it crashes it does so fairly gently (no matter how fast it is going) and concussive impact is reduced by the bounciness of the guards. It’s also because I suspect Holy Stone make a somewhat better quality product than their competitors in the kids drone market. Unlike most manufacturers at this end of the spectrum, Holy Stone have built a proper brand for themselves, and they support this with a widely praised customer service department. They aren’t a fly-by-night operation, making a few sales then closing down and moving on, so it would make sense for them to invest in making their products last long enough to garner some decent reviews.
Weight – Very light
Speed – Fast!!! Even on speed 1 this is a fairly rapid little drone, on speed 3 it is positively naughty! One of the reasons I don’t think this is a drone for little kids.
Prop guards – Yes, but the provide quite limited protection.
Size and rigidity of props – The above doesn’t matter too much because the propellers themselves are really very small and unlikely to cause damage.
Speed – The good side of this being just about the fastest mini drone on the market is that it make sit fun to fly in a way that some smaller drones simply are not. If you stick it on speed 3 and perhaps set up a couple of obstacles to fly around/through this drone will entertain you and continue to test your abilities until you’ve achieved a seriously high degree of control.
Lights – No lights aside from directional guides.
Tricks – The HS190 does flips, as do virtually all its competitors. It also has one other party trick, which as far as I’m aware is unique in the context of kids drones and that is a ‘return to home’ function. Essentially, at the press of a button the drone will turn away from you and then travel backwards towards the remote controller. Kind of pointless? Yep. Kind of fun? Debatable. Maybe your kids can find a way of turning it into a game though?
Camera – No camera.
What’s in the box?
- Drone (includes battery)
- Charging cable
- Controller (requires AAA batteries)
- Full set of replacement propellers
- Propeller guards
Is maintenance easy/possible?
Like all mini drones, maintenance and repair are not a realistic possibility unless it’s the sort of thing you’re into. You can’t buy parts and you’d need some specialist equipment to mend something this small. That said, Holy Stone do have a good reputation for sending out spare parts on request, so if you’re of a mind to get your micro-soldering on, go for it!
Is it noisy?
About average for a drone this size. Not horrific, but it is likely to annoy anyone in the room.
I tested it a couple of times, just hovering on a full charge and it lasted an average of 8 minutes 15 seconds which is a touch longer than you would expect for a mini drone.
Can it be flown outside?
I haven’t tried to, because I already know the answer….. NO! The HS190 is so light weight and low power, there is no way it would handle outdoor conditions. It wouldn’t even require a strong wind, just a slight movement of air would see your drone flying off uncontrollably into the blue yonder…… 😭
Any recommended accessories?
None needed for a little drone like this, aside from possibly a power bank in case you want to be able to charge it whilst away from mains electricity or if you want to avoid using up a socket. I like this one:
Summaries of online reviews
My review above is subjective and other people won’t necessarily feel the same way. So, in order to provide an alternative point of view, the below sections are summaries of a bunch of other online reviews for the HS190. The first section will summarise some positive reviews and the second will be based on negative reviews.
Online love for the HS190
The primary points of satisfaction mentioned across the reviews include its ease of use, making it a great choice for beginners or those looking for a fun, uncomplicated indoor activity. The drone is noted to have good stability and agility, maintaining a hover and flying straight effortlessly. Its small size is frequently compared to a hummingbird, with several users commenting on its excellent performance relative to its compact size and low cost.
Some of the reviews did mention a short battery life, with around 7 to 10 minutes of flight time on a single charge being the norm. However, the short charge time of less than 30 minutes was appreciated. The drone was also praised for its durability, with multiple users mentioning that it survived crashes unscathed, including an instance where it was submerged in water and still functioned perfectly after drying.
One noteworthy point is the praise for the company’s customer service. Several reviewers experienced issues with defective batteries, but the swift and effective response from Holy Stone’s customer service was appreciated and left a lasting impression.
Some users also noted that this drone was a ‘loss leader’ product, offering excellent value that inspired brand loyalty and encouraged them to purchase other, more expensive drones from Holy Stone.
Overall, the HS190 drone is praised for its affordability, quality, ease of use, and the impressive customer service provided by Holy Stone. It’s a popular choice for beginner pilots or those looking for a durable, easy-to-fly drone at a reasonable price.
Online hate for the HS190
Multiple customers experienced a significant malfunction after only a few uses, with problems ranging from propeller failure to the drone simply ceasing to operate entirely. These issues resulted in the drone either not taking off, moving inconsistently, or drifting to one side uncontrollably, even after ensuring the propellers were correctly oriented and the drone was properly calibrated.
Another frequently mentioned issue is related to charging. Users report that the provided charging cable breaks or becomes useless after a few uses, prompting the need to purchase additional cables or find alternative charging solutions.
Customer service from both Amazon and the Holy Stone website was also criticized. Customers felt that the assistance provided was subpar, with one user pointing out that it took an excessive amount of time and effort to get a simple answer from the support team.
Users also noted that the drone’s battery life is much less than advertised, barely lasting a few minutes rather than the promised 10 minutes. Some users experienced the drone dropping out of the sky mid-flight, indicating possible power or battery issues.
Further disappointment was expressed regarding the product’s size, which several customers found to be much smaller than they expected based on the promotional images. Finally, for some users, the drone’s setup was deemed overly complicated, and the drone was not considered beginner-friendly.
Overall, the HS190 drone appears to have significant issues related to its performance, durability, and customer support. Future buyers should carefully consider these factors before purchasing this product.