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With boxEveryone here should have a pretty good idea of what a quadcopter is, but for those of you who don’t, a quadcopter is basically a helicopter with 4 motors. Most people have come across those way-overpriced RC helicopters from mall vendors. This is basically the same idea. Except it’s less than 40 bucks and you’ll actually use it 2 weeks after Christmas.

The Syma X1 Quadcopter functions on the same range as most of your Wi-Fi devices (the 2.4Ghz range) so some unlucky pilots may suffer from connection issues or aerial troubles. I’ve flown other quadcopters before but I had never 5Y0A7779seen good-quality copters under one Grant (that’s $50 for those who don’t keep up with your presidents).

The Syma X1 has 4 rotors – each driven with a gear underneath the (very tiny!) motor – and a thin plastic body that comes in 3 styles; UFO, Bumblebee and X-Fighter. In the center there’s the board with the ‘brain’ of the copter as well as a battery mount underneath. The battery itself is easy to latch on but is a bit tricky to take out, which may require placing the copter on a table and using both hands (one to hold the latches out and the other to pull the battery).

5Y0A7776Flying the X1 was easy to get used to but READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! I missed that when I played around with it and thought I had broken it. Turns out that once you put the battery in it calibrates itself. You can put the battery in and set the copter down quickly, but even then it might not calibrate properly. I recommend you put the battery in with the copter set on a flat surface. Other than that, I did not run into any other major glitches. The two white rotors represent the “front” on the controller, unlike the $299 Parrot AR.Drone which can be set to whatever direction is “your” front. But that’s a $299 quadcopter. This one’s $40 on Amazon (That’s 7:1 ratio for those keeping score at home). The left joystick is for controlling the altitude of the copter while the right joystick moves around (in a 2D plane). There’s two triggers that allow some pretty cool tricks such as something known as “3D Eversion”.

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The quadcopter itself is very durable. We had one of our interns play around with it and the copter survived (almost) unscathed. To recharge the battery you can simply plug it into your typical USB adaptor, instead of having to recharge from the remote (which is very useful). The rotors are held in by Phillips screws so replacing them should be fairly straightforward.

The Bottom Line

Geek Beat Editors Choice 2013For an entry-level quadcopter (what did you expect, its ONLY $40) it provides the fun with easy to use (and very forgiving controls) while providing some cool tricks (namely the 3D “eversion”, which can wow your spectators) at a fraction of the cost of other “hobby grade” quadcopters. It’s available on Amazon for $36.

And since this is the most R/C fun you can have for under $50, we’re awarding the Zyma X1 an Editor’s Choice award! This is the perfect gift for anyone geeky on your list, no matter how old they are.

The Photos

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