Battery: Built-in 450 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 6 mins
Charge time: 45 mins
Transmitter rates: 3 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Headless mode: ?
Competitors: JJRC H20C
The YiZhan iDrone i6s doesn’t follow the stream with regards to size, but then you could argue the traditional nano/micro/mini size classification waters have been pretty thoroughly muddied at this point. It’s bigger than its nano competitors like the MJX X900 or JJRC H20 yet smaller than its micro competitors like the MJX X800, ending up in some kind of in-between nano-micro territory.
Although hexacopters in or around this size is – evidently – nothing new, the way the i6s looks certainly is. YiZhan has really achieved a unique look here and while I might not be entirely sold myself, taste is admittedly a tricky subject and I certainly respect the originality on display. The design, which comes in two variants (black and white), is reminiscent of the company’s flagship, the Tarantula X6, while avoiding the pitfall of being just a shrunk down clone of it.
A few things worth pointing out:
- The i6s has an integrated camera, and it’s a 2 megapixel one at that! Given the price point and overall size of the aircraft this is pretty respectable. I’ll discuss the actual performance of the camera, along with sample footage, in the flight test portion of the review.
- The battery uses a single cell 3.7 volt 450 mAh configuration, which is – strangely, considering the sizeable capacity – built-in. Also unfortunately, as a replaceable battery would – all other things being equal – have been preferable.
- The LED lights are four in number (excluding the camera indicator and the purely aesthetical glowing “eyes” of the aircraft) and very bright. There is also color coding to help distinguish direction when flying. Just exemplary!
Despite arriving with the box completely intact, my i6s came with a broken motor mount. Fortunately this was easily fixed by gluing the motor in place, but since I’ve also had to glue one of the arms back together after it came apart in a – I thought – not-so-serious crash.
I have to take this as an indication of build quality: It’s not the most rigorously built or withstanding, which also carries over to some of the accessories. The included prop guards, for example, feel very flimsy and I wouldn’t trust them to protect much against anything.
The transmitter is as unique looking as the hexacopter, if not more so. Let’s have a look at some things that sets it apart!
- First of all, it’s nice to see a display on the transmitter of a multirotor in this price range! This one may not be back-lit, but nevertheless shows you all sorts of information – the most useful of which arguably being battery level, trim settings and selected rate.
- The shoulder buttons are actually spl it and can be pressed on either the left side or right side with different results. Left-left cycles between rates, left-right takes a photo, right-left captures video and right-right performs a flip.
- On a negative note, the sticks – and yes they are proper sticks, probably favoring pinch flying over thumb flying – have a tendency of not centering themselves after being let go from certain positions. This is annoying, especially considering the fast yaw rate I’ll get to later.
In terms of included accessories, the YiZhan iDrone i6s comes with:
- Prop guards, which again feel flimsy and I wouldn’t bother with
- Landing gear, which I don’t see the point of as the hexacopter can clearly stand on its own
- A screwdriver and a set of screws for securing said landing gear onto the hexacopter
- A USB charging cable, with which charging the battery takes approximately 45 minutes
- A full set of spare propellers
- An instruction manual in English and Chinese
Note that no microSD card for use with the camera or USB memory card reader comes included.
Unfortunately, I have experienced problems with what seems like the communication between transmitter and aircraft (call it signal or protocol) with my YiZhan iDrone i6s. These take a variety of expressions, but can broadly be categorized into three areas:
- Problems binding the transmitter to the aircraft
- Problems with delayed response to transmitter inputs (as seen here)
- Problems with the aircraft suddenly dropping out of the sky
Provided we’re talking about a general shortcoming of the product I wouldn’t hesitate to call this a deal-breaker. The strange thing is I haven’t heard of anyone else experiencing these problems, which is why I also feel I should leave room for the possibility that I was simply unlucky and got a lemon.
Overall, this puts me in a tricky position as a reviewer: Do I write off my experience as a fluke? Do I give it full prominence and pan the product completely based on it? What I ultimately decided to do was exactly what you’re hearing now: Give you, the viewer, the straight dope so you can make up your own mind.
The sad thing about this whole ordeal is that it’s a far cry from the final nail in the coffin for the YiZhan i6s, on the contrary it can actually be a pretty impressive flyer when it feels so inclined. Make no mistake though: the i6s is – for better and worse – a very sport oriented hexacopter. There are three rates on offer and they are some of the most dialed-up I’ve ever come across:
- The lowest, called 50%, is already faster than the highest rate on most other multirotors
- The middle, called 70%, I find barely controllable (the fast yaw being the main offender)
- The highest, called 100%, feels like it’s designed for machines
The extreme, near vertical, pitch and roll is sure to be appreciated by sport flyers as something they can utilize to great effect, but I’m doubtful increasing the yaw rate to equal extremes is as useful. Yes, having an adequate yaw rate is necessary, but the i6s goes way beyond that. On the lowest rate it’s manageable – if somewhat binary (it’s either on or off, no in-between) – but past that it feels like the slightest nudge puts the hexacopter into a spin.
Strange as stability is supposed to be one of the strengths of hexacopters, my i6s is unable to hold a steady hover. Regardless of how many times I calibrate it or adjust the trims, it always seems to want to drift in one direction or the other. Taken together with the untamed rates, this definitively makes the i6s better suited for outdoor than indoor flying.
Finally there’s the camera, which strikes me as an odd detail considering the i6s seems so focused on sport flying. Regardless, for the price, for the size it’s undeniably impressive. The 720p video is reasonably sharp, vivid and I’ve noticed no “jello effect”, stuttering or video artifacts. It even captures audio, though I don’t really see the point of this with integrated cameras as all you’re going to hear is the roar of the motors.
In conclusion, it’s hard reaching a consistent verdict when the evidence points both ways:
The YiZhan iDrone i6s has a fair share of things going both for it, like its impressive agility and surprisingly decent camera, and against it, like its poor build quality, tendency to drift and – at least this reviewer’s experience of – signal and/or protocol problems.
I think the fairest summation I can come up with is: It’s not a complete hit, it’s not a complete miss and the people who should consider checking it out are primarily sport flyers.