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DronesWatch Flight Demo – The Holy Stone HS210
Summary of the Holy Stone HS210
**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 HS210 is a great little drone that scores highly when it comes to how much fun it is to fly.
On the other hand, its robustness is a bit questionable and it comes in at a slightly higher price tag than some similar models, so it might be best suited to kids who are old enough to be a bit sensible with it.
What is it like to fly?
I’ll get into a few specifics in a minute, but let’s start with the main event; what is it actually like to fly?
Well, I have to admit that I had some prejudiced thoughts prior to getting hold of the HS210. It was the first micro drone that I’d bought and I assumed such a small, lightweight toy would have had to make too many sacrifices compared to larger, more expensive models, that it wouldn’t be a very viable product. But I took it out of the box, fired it up and contrary to my expectations……. it’s pretty flipping good actually!
The Holy Stone HS210 is a toy grade drone, but it does the fundamental stuff in the same way that much larger, more expensive models do.
It has four rotors and a conventional two-stick controller that allows for yaw, pitch, roll and altitude adjustment. This level of controllability means users are likely to remain interested in flying the drone long after more basic products have lost their initial excitement.
It is fairly slow on speed 1, so you can learn to control it without risking wholesale destruction of your property, and a pleasantly responsive controller helps with this. But stick it on to speed 3 (the fastest setting) and you’ll be impressed at how much faster it goes and how much more fun this makes it. Trust me, you will need good reactions and some serious spatial awareness if you’re going to try and fly it at full speed indoors.
Aside from flying very capably, the HS210 can do a few other bits and pieces too. The best of which is that it is capable of three different speed modes.
Speaking from my own experience, the HS210 was one of the first drones I ever bought, and this ability to alter the max speed was truly useful when it came to learning to fly. If you leave it on the slowest speed, you’ll find that even as a total newbie, you’ll have enough control to mostly avoid crashing into walls whilst you build up an intuitive understanding of what stick to push in which direction and when! Then, when you’re happy with the basics you can move it up a speed (or two; lets’ face it, when you’re feeling basically competent, you’re going straight to top speed, right!?) and race around your house at the kind of velocity that will have you pulling some serious concentration faces…. IMG
A couple of other useful things to know are that the HS210 has ‘altitude hold’ and one-button takeoff. Altitude hold means that when the drone is in the air, if you let go of the sticks it will stay where it is. Earlier models of drone would fall to the floor if you did this, so it’s a positive addition. One-button takeoff means exactly what it says and is another aspect of the HS210 that makes it kid friendly.
You’ve then got some rather more superficial features that you may or may not care about….
One button allows you to make the drone do an automated 360 degree flip, which serves no purpose but is entertaining to watch (and in fairness, my 4 year old kid freakin’ loves it!).
It can also perform a circling manoeuvre, which again I don’t quite understand the point of unless it’s purely for entertainment. It feels like it is there to ape the action of a camera drone circling for filming reasons, but since this drone isn’t capable of carrying a camera, it must just be for fun.
You’ve also got a button for headless mode, which I don’t tend to use because I don’t want to confuse my brain and ask it to learn two ways to control drones, but this is arguably another child-friendly feature as headless mode is quite an intuitive way of flying and whilst I haven’t yet got my kids to give it a go, I suspect they would benefit from it.
Price and value
Price varies for this sort of product, so check Amazon if you want to know what it’s going for at the minute. But at the time of writing it is around $37.
Personally I think that is great value. I’ve already played with mine for probably 4 to 5 hours and by the time my kids have finished with it, it will have racked up a load more flight time.
I appreciate that $37 isn’t nothing, but when I think about some other stuff me and the Mrs spend that sort of money on (an average quality takeout, a few months of some random TV subscription we end up not even using, etc) the HS210 ends up looking like a good buy!
What’s in the box?
The drone, 3 batteries, 1 controller (needs three AAA batteries which are not supplied but at least they will last for ages, I guess). IMG
With small drones, you can’t expect too much in terms of battery life; they simply can’t carry the weight of a larger cell. The effect of this is offset somewhat in the case of the HS210, by the fact that you get 3 batteries included as standard, where a lot of toy drones come with just 1 or 2.
I timed my three batteries and got results of 7.5, 7 and 8.25 minutes. So about 7 minutes, 40 seconds on average.
I then tested a spare I bought on Amazon (which got bad reviews mostly) and it managed 7.25 minutes so that was quite a nice surprise.
One negative aspect here is that the batteries are a bit fiddly to attach and remove. Check out the below picture to see the type of connector. IMG
So, if you’ve got hugely fat fingers or a chronic lack of patience, this could be an issue, but realistically, I wouldn’t say this is a big deal.
Ease of use/maintenance
As you might expect, this drone is pretty easy to set up. You should be flying within 5 minutes of opening the box, even if you’ve never looked at a drone in your life before.
There are a couple of bits you need to do. You’ll need to connect a battery, calibrate the gyroscope (essentially this means waving the drone around in the air for a few seconds) and figure out how to launch it, but these actions are described in the manual and are not difficult to do. There’s a slight issue with the manual as it has been translated from Chinese imperfectly, but it’s good enough that you won’t get confused.
When it comes to maintenance, that’s pretty much a straight ‘nope’!
This is very much a toy drone and when something breaks, it’s broken. It just isn’t valuable enough to justify repairs so the kit you get in the box includes no spare propellers, no screwdriver, nothing.
As well as this, you need to be aware that a tiny drone like the HS210, at this kind of price point, is never going to be sturdily built.
So you can take your inability to mend it and pair it with a fairly high incidence of breakages occurring!
If you don’t like the sound of that, you should consider saving up more like $200-$300 and buying a cheap but ‘proper’ camera drone, flying it outside in a boring, safe manner and repairing it when it takes the odd knock!
Can the HS210 be flown outside?
In this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXC5HnrqQUU a very knowledgeable chap struggles to fly it properly. And in this one, he diligently tried again on a super low-wind day, and largely fails again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Osn4ELO7t-Y&t=191s
The simple truth is, there are always currents of air moving around outside, even though they may be too weak for us to notice them. But a 25g drone will notice! And you’ll find that they get blown around so much it won’t be much fun and, depending on the environment you’re in, there’s a significant chance you’ll lose it.
This is an important aspect to me. I’ve got three kids under 5 and since I’m a fan of drones one of the main reasons I wanted a toy model was so I could start letting them have a go too.
If you’re thinking of doing something similar, I’ve got one thing to say up front….. Do not buy a drone for little kids, even a cheapo one like the HS210, unless you’re prepared to see it get misused, crashed and abused. AND bear in mind your kids will have no patience for talk of fiddly batteries, calibration or having to recharge things; they will want to be flying until they’re bored, period.
Can you deal with that!? If so, I would highly recommend the HS210 for kids. Holy Stone suggest on the packaging that this drone is for people 12+ years, but my 5 year old loves it! And even the 3 year old has enjoyed giving it a go. So set your own rules here.
Initially I just got the basic drone with the batteries and controller as mentioned above. But because I quickly grew to like the HS210 I decided it was worth buying a few bits to go with it.
I now have a hard-shell carry case and several more batteries, so the kids don’t moan. I’ll add links to both when I get a minute.
This very cool power bank, which I’ve used way more than I anticipated I would, simply because it works well and is easy to tuck away in a corner so you don’t end up uglifying your kitchen via a semi-permanent drone battery charging station. **NOTE** If you want to get a power bank for charging drone batteries, I highly recommend this exact one as it is the only one I could find where the USB ports are spaced far enough apart that you can fit two of these adaptors in at the same time, see image below.
Here are the answers to a few questions that people tend to ask on Amazon, Google etc:
Q: How do I replace the motor?
A: You don’t! That would require micro-soldering and precision tools, and it just wouldn’t be worth it. If you need to replace the rotors, that would be easy enough as you can simply pull the broken ones off, and from what I’ve read Holy Stone are willing to mail out replacement parts (take that with a pinch of salt though; I’ve never interacted with them myself).
Q: Is it loud?
A: Not really. Certainly compared to any camera drone, the HS210 is really quiet. I’ve got two cats, and when I fly the drone in the same room as them, the brave one ignores it, whilst the other tends to slink away, so it’s about that loud…..!
Q: How do I control drift?
A: Because the HS210 is tiny, weighs next to nothing and has software of limited complexity, it does tend to drift a bit. You can trim the controls though, so you’ve got a solution. The instructions of how to do this are in the manual so I won’t recreate them here. They’re on the last page.
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 HS210. The first section will summarise some positive reviews and the second will be based on negative reviews.
Online love for the HS210
The HS210 drone is generally praised for its user-friendliness, suitability for beginners, particularly children, and affordability. Many reviewers find it an excellent training drone before transitioning to more professional models, such as DJI.
The control system of the HS210 is often compared to more expensive models, suggesting that this drone is an excellent learning tool. Users report that the controls are fairly precise, although some practice is necessary to master them. Moreover, the headless flight mode is appreciated as a helpful feature for novice pilots.
Reviewers note that the HS210 performs well indoors, thanks to its lightweight design and propeller guards that increase its durability. The drone’s small size, however, does make it sensitive to wind conditions, making outdoor use challenging. A small number of users reported their drones broke after minimal use, but they also praised Holy Stone’s attentive customer service for providing hassle-free replacements.
Battery life and the design of the battery connectors are the main points of criticism among reviewers. While the drone comes with three batteries that charge quickly, they reportedly only last a few minutes before needing replacement. The connectors on the batteries are described as small and difficult to disconnect, particularly for those with larger hands. The wires of the connector are easy to damage when changing batteries, leading to calls for a design change or inclusion of a special tool for battery extraction.
Despite these criticisms, users seem to be generally satisfied with the HS210 drone’s performance and durability. Its fun features, such as a built-in flip trick, along with its ability to withstand multiple crashes, make it a popular choice for those new to drones or looking for a low-risk, affordable entry into the hobby.
Online hate for the HS210
The HS210 drone appears to have several significant issues according to these reviews. A common complaint among users is the product’s poor durability and lifespan, with many reporting that the drone stopped working or broke within a very short time, ranging from a few minutes to a few days. A number of users reported the drone’s electronics dying, the motors stopping to work or running at excessively high speeds, and the sides cracking very easily.
Moreover, issues with battery life and the process of changing batteries were mentioned as a notable drawback. Users noted that the drone requires frequent battery changes, and the batteries themselves are reported to not last as long as advertised. This issue, in combination with the perceived difficulty of replacing batteries, has contributed to user dissatisfaction.
Additionally, pairing the controller with the drone is seen as overly complex, not suitable for beginners or children, and there were several instances of failed connections between the controller and the drone. This appears to add to the frustration experienced by users.
Also worth noting is the dissatisfaction with the customer service and quality control, where it was indicated that replacements were perceived as previously returned items. One reviewer also reported an issue with excessive and intrusive communication from the seller, including requests to delete their negative review.
On a more positive note, reviewers acknowledged that when operational, the drone is fun to fly, with features like auto take-off and flips being appreciated. Nonetheless, these positives were vastly outweighed by the aforementioned problems. As such, reviewers generally advised against purchasing the HS210 drone, suggesting to invest in a better quality product instead.