Cheerson CX-10SE Review

Quick facts:

Battery: Built-in 1S 100 mAh LiPo
Flight time: ~5 min
Charge time: ~20 min

Transmitter rates: 3 (fixed yaw speed)
Transmitter compatibility: Most prior Cheerson CX-10 models, DeviationTX

Competitors: SBEGO FQ777-124, Huiying Toys HY-851

Video review:

Transcript:

The Cheerson CX-10 seems to be many people’s first quadcopter. They get it as a gift or buy it on a whim, fly it a few times and then either lose interest or get hooked and move on to bigger things. In that sense, it’s kind of a multirotor equivalent to the board game Monopoly: A lot of people have it at home, but it seldom sees much use.

In fact, you could stretch that analogy further: Much like Monopoly isn’t the best introduction to board games, the CX-10 perhaps isn’t the best introduction to quadcopters: It’s tiny size makes it fragile, not as stable and difficult to tell direction with. That hasn’t stopped it from doing gangbusters in terms of sales though.

The recently launched CX-10SE (“SE” supposedly being short “Special Edition”) is some form of update of the original, but what’s actually been updated isn’t entirely clear. Is this a genuine attempt at restoring the CX-10 to its former glory or just a quick cash grab? Let’s try to find out in this mini-review of the CX-10SE nano quadcopter from Cheerson!

Oh, already spotted a difference! The Cheerson CX-10SE comes in a sturdy box that can be re-used when transporting the quadcopter, in case you want to bring it with you to school, work or other event. This is an obvious and welcome change from the original CX-10 whose box was a real nightmare you couldn’t easily re-use and would often get completely mangled in shipping.

Into said box Cheerson has thrown a so-called prop guard which protects the propellers in case you bump into something (more on this in the flight test) and a “blade wrench” for when you need to replace the propellers of the quadcopter. The remaining contents (transmitter, spare propellers, USB charging cable and instruction manual) is exactly the same as of the original CX-10, the charger even has that same spike which makes it annoyingly difficult to fit into the charging connector!

As for the quadcopter itself, it’s your – by now – standard-looking nano with a built-in 100 mAh battery and tiny LEDs on each arm. I’d heard that the CX-10SE was smaller and lighter than the original, but can’t find any difference and they both weigh the same (around 13 grams). Although it obviously won’t affect performance, the paint job on mine is also kind of sloppy. It looks like at least one of the four available color options use some kind of rubberized finish, but not mine.

Apart from its color, the transmitter is also exactly the same as the original. It’s small and not very precise, but considering the CX-10 is one of the cheapest quadcopters money can buy I’m not going to fault Cheerson too much for that. The protocol is also the same. It was reverse-engineered and implemented in solutions like Deviation long ago, so if you want to fly a $10 quadcopter using a $60+ transmitter you can!

From what I can remember of my original CX-10, whose battery is now sadly dead, not a lot has changed with the CX-10SE in terms of how it flies. It’s a mixed bag: On one hand it’s very stable, mine holds a near perfect hover without any calibration or trimming. On the other, it feels a little bit floaty and has a painfully slow yaw which sadly doesn’t increase as you move up the rates.

The quadcopter has three rates ranging from very slow to… less slow (as demonstrated here), a flight time around 5 minutes (including a short LVC warning) and a range listed at 30 meters, though in my case the transmitter only worked reliably up to a couple of meters. Luckily I had other compatible transmitters so I didn’t look into this very closely, but assume it’s not a general issue. Still, it shows you the kind of quality control Cheerson does (or doesn’t) put into the product.

In terms of flight features the CX-10SE is (Surprise, surprise!) – as far as I can tell – again exactly the same as the original, here meaning it’s very basic. You get the automatic flips, but none of the additions, like altitude hold or even headless mode, Cheerson introduced with later updates of the CX-10 model. It’s rare to see a company come out with a new product which actually has less features than its previous one.

As for what seems like the only thing differentiating the CX-10SE from the original – the prop guard – it’s actually pretty well designed, sliding on from underneath the quadcopter so you don’t have to take the propellers off to install it and extending above the blades so as to also protect from the ceiling. If you’re going to fly indoors you may want to consider using it, just keep in mind you won’t get the same flight time because of the added weight.

Admittedly this was just a quick look, but If you haven’t picked up on it I wasn’t that impressed by the Cheerson CX-10SE. The prop guard is a nice addition, but beyond that it’s practically the same quadcopter that was released 3 years ago: Not an upgrade, not a downgrade… a “no-grade”.

I can understand Cheerson doesn’t want to cannibalize their own market by adding things already present on other CX-10 versions, but couldn’t they at least have had a look at the original’s shortcomings? As it stands now, you have to question Cheerson’s motives.

Now I’m not saying the CX-10SE is bad. I might not be crazy about its flight characteristics myself, but it’s still the same reliable flyer it was 3 years ago. However, the hobby hasn’t stood still all this time. If you’re just starting out and looking for something small and inexpensive in 2017, may I instead suggest something like the Eachine E010 (or one of the many other Inductrix clones out there)? It may not be quite as tiny, but as cheap, much tougher and a great flyer.

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