Battery: Built-in 150 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 6 mins
Charge time: 40 mins
Transmitter rates: 2 (variable yaw rate)
Transmitter compatibility: Other Blade products
Headless mode: No
Blade, owned by Horizon Hobby, is a US based producer of RC helicopters and quadcopters in the above-toy grade, below-hobby grade in-between segment. Great quality seems like the company’s signature (to my knowledge, the only bad product they’ve ever made is their first nano outing – the Pico QX), with the Nano QX, a mini sized sport quadcopter, arguably standing as the crown jewel of their product portfolio. …but – as Spiderman says – “with high quality comes high price”, and this certainly holds true in the case of Blade.
The Inductrix, which is after all – however premium – a nano sized toy grade quadcopter, will set you back around $70 ready-to-fly, possibly more if you happen to live outside the US. This is more than double the price I’m used to paying for this type of aircraft. Going in I had a feeling the Inductrix was going to be a solid product, but solid enough to justify a price point like that? …or am I looking at this the wrong way?
Welcome to this review and flight test of the Inductrix nano quadcopter from Blade!
Visually, the Inductrix doesn’t do much to woo you into accepting its higher price. Beneath the interchangeable canopy, the board – wiring and all! – is fully exposed. Somehow though, I still get the impression a lot of thought has gone into the design and the lack of aesthetic knick-knack is not an oversight but a conscious statement about priorities. The 150 mAh 3.7 volt battery is removable which is a nice touch seldom seen on nano quadcopters. In another stroke of original design, the propellers – or fans as it happens – are ducted!
Ducted fans are in and of themselves nothing new and their aerodynamic properties, both positive and negative (none of which I feel qualified to develop upon), are at this point understood. In the context of RC multirotors though, they aren’t often used. I suppose because they are either a) costly or difficult to implement properly or b) their negative traits outweighs their positive for the application. I’ve also seen people argue the Inductrix is not a true ducted design as the ducts themselves are too shallow to make a noticeable difference on flight characteristics.
For an aircraft designed for indoor and ease-of-use – I still see two clear – albeit not directly flight related – advantages with using ducted fans. For one thing, ducted fans – similarly to but more efficiently than prop guards – shield both the fans themselves and the surroundings from damage in the event of a crash or collision (which is quite likely, considering the indoor beginner target demographic). For another thing, ducted fans are also quiet, shielding the surroundings from a lot of the noise generated by the motors, which is sure to be appreciated by significant others, pets or whoever else might inhabit your indoor space.
It should be noted that the Inductrix can be bought both with and without an included transmitter (called ready-to-fly – RTF – and bind-n-fly – BNF – respectively). If you happen to own a compatible transmitter, like one from another Blade product, you can get the latter and save yourself $20.
The transmitter that comes with the ready-to-fly kit (which I got) is more in the toy grade than hobby grade school of design. Whatever you might think about how it’s shaped though, it feels solidly built and definitely big enough to grip properly. I’m a thumb flyer through and through and I do find the sticks a little long for comfort, but this is my only objection regarding an otherwise “A-OK” transmitter.
In the ready-to-fly kit I also got an extra canopy, a USB charging adapter that charges the battery in around 40 minutes, 4 AA batteries for the transmitter and a number of instruction manuals in different languages (professionally put together, but left me with some questions that I’ll get to later).
All in all I may have had one or two reservations regarding the aesthetics or transmitter of the Inductrix, but the feeling of flying it more than makes up for these. Keep in mind my frame of reference is by no means complete (especially concerning slightly higher quality brands like in this case), but this may be the overall best handling craft I’ve flown!
The Inductrix’s response to stick inputs is both direct and smooth, whereas my previous experiences have been of either one or the other. The Hubsan X4 – for example – I remember as being very responsive but kind of twitchy, the MJX X900 – on the other hand – is very smooth-flying but also slightly sluggish, but somehow this manages to exhibit both of the pros and none the cons.
The generous scale of the transmitter, stability of the aircraft and I guess Blade’s flight protocol all work in tandem to also provide a high degree of precision in the controls. I find flying the Inductrix indoors is easier than most other nanos, despite it also being bigger than most nanos. Conventional wisdom says that the opposite should be true!
The ready-to-fly transmitter offers two rates. It could be argued they don’t differ all that much, although there is a noticeable effect on pitch, roll and yaw. Usually I complain when an aircraft’s rates are too “samey”, but in this case I feel it’s not as big of an issue because of the mentioned precision. If you want to go slower, just ease up on the stick! In theory this is of course always true, but on a tiny transmitter with tiny sticks and a more binary response, the rates become more important as there’s little granular control. Here the response is more gradual. The only speed not attainable with the stock transmitter is the very fast, which simply isn’t in the scope of the rates.
It is possible I’ve missed something here as I am new to the terminology Blade uses with their products, but I can’t seem to perform flips with the Inductrix. My understanding from trying to read up on this is that it isn’t possible with the stock transmitter, but is with some of Blade’s other compatible but more customizable transmitters where auto-leveling can be turned off.
(Hey guys, I think a quick correction is in order here: I was just finishing up the review when I found the “agility mode”, accessible by clicking the left stick of the stock transmitter… and – boy – is this something else! In this undocumented mode you can – with practice – go very fast and supposedly also pull off manual flips, which in part invalidates some of my previous points of contention. Alright, just wanted to let you guys know!)
Another minor annoyance is that the Low Voltage Cut-off warning gives practically no time to react before it – after 6 minutes or so of flying – starts to spin down the motors, which can lead to some unnecessarily rough landings. Rough landings or general rough treatment should be no problem for the Inductrix though. Its durability is one of Blade’s selling points for it and from what I’ve seen I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of that claim.
In conclusion, the Blade Inductrix – at least for me – set a new standard for the description “competent flyer”. High responsiveness, stability and precision coupled with its protected fans and durable construction makes it a very suitable indoor quadcopter, a very suitable beginner quadcopter and a near unbeatable indoor beginner quadcopter. This is not to say more experienced pilots will get nothing out of the Inductrix, especially taking the undocumented “agility mode” – to really test your might – into account.
Probably the hardest question when trying to decide whether or not to get the Inductrix – and one I can’t answer for you, the viewer – is if it makes good on its price tag. My experience with the aircraft has been very positive. At the same time, $50 to $70 – depending on your access to a compatible transmitter – isn’t peanuts for a nano quadcopter.
For those not hesitant to make a little bit of an investment and looking to secure their indoor flying fun this winter though, the Blade Inductrix comes highly recommended!