WLTOYS V666

$149 (£100)

Tech Advisor - - GROUP TEST -

You could dis­miss the V666 as just an­other Chi­nese clone. But look be­yond the fact that it’s a cheap copy of the Par­rot AR.Drone and there’s a lot to like. Out of the box, it’s a ready-to-fly first-per­son-view quad­copter. Un­like the cheaper, smaller Rev­ell X-Spy, it doesn’t need a smart­phone for live video as it comes with a 4.3in LCD dis­play.

It’s a bet­ter setup than the Hub­san FPV X4 be­cause the mon­i­tor is pow­ered separately by its own recharge­able Lithium bat­tery, and comes with a hood to make it eas­ier to see in bright con­di­tions. It’s a proper 5.8GHz sys­tem with re­mov­able SMA an­ten­nas, so you can up­grade them (or buy a lighter ver­sion for the quad­copter).

The re­mote con­trol is cheaply built, but it has a clever mech­a­nism for swap­ping the func­tions of the left- and right sticks. It means that you can use the right-hand stick as a proper ratchet throt­tle con­trol.

Un­der­neath the quad­copter is a 720p cam­era, and it even has an anti-vi­bra­tion mount­ing sys­tem that helps sta­bilise footage a bit. You get a 4GB mi­croSD card, which slots into the cam­era and records footage di­rectly, un­like the Hub­san, which records from the re­mote con­trol. But­tons on the re­mote let you start and stop record­ing while in flight, and you can take pho­tos at 2Mp res­o­lu­tion.

Be­cause of the low price, you can’t ex­pect high-qual­ity mo­tors and WLtoys hasn’t even in­stalled ball bear­ings for the ro­tors. For this rea­son, it’s worth order­ing at least two spare mo­tors along with the V666, and a set of eight ball bear­ings to re­place the brass bushes. Most spares are avail­able from GearBest.com, which sup­plied the V666 for this re­view, with spare bat­ter­ies cost­ing just £7 if or­dered at the same time as the quad­copter. Spare mo­tors are just £3 each.

Mea­sur­ing 350x350mm and weigh­ing 350g with the foam pro­tec­tor at­tached, the V666 is heavy, but you

Build Fea­tures Per­for­mance

Value

Over­all

can save 70g by re­mov­ing it. This will in­crease the life of the mo­tors and also flight time. We found the 1200mAh bat­tery lasted about eight min­utes, and took just un­der an hour to recharge.

Footage from the 720p cam­era is okay con­sid­er­ing the price, but it’s hardly what you’d call high def­i­ni­tion. It’s more like low-res­o­lu­tion CCTV footage, and colours are washed out. If you’re com­fort­able with crack­ing the cam­era case open, you can in­stall a wide-an­gle lens (around £7.50), which will pro­vide much bet­ter aerial footage than the stan­dard one. Still, it’s not a patch on the DJI Phantom 2 Vi­sion+ footage, although that drone costs al­most 10 times more.

In an open space far from the in­ter­fer­ence of Wi-Fi routers and mo­bile phones, the live video is good, but the fram­er­ate drops no­tice­ably when you’re record­ing at the same time.

In flight, the V666 is pretty sta­ble – much more so than smaller quad­copters such as the X4 FPV and Rev­ell X-Spy. It’s pos­si­ble to per­form flips, but this kind of ag­gres­sive fly­ing is likely to shorten the life of the mo­tors and con­trib­ute to them burning out. Range was also good: we were able to fly at over 100 feet with no sig­nal or con­nec­tion prob­lems.

There’s no GPS or au­to­matic hov­er­ing, but you can’t ex­pect those fea­tures for this price. What’s good is that, de­spite the man­ual’s hor­ren­dous English trans­la­tion, the V666 sup­ports ‘head­less mode’. This is a rare fea­ture and means you can fly the drone from your per­spec­tive: even if it’s fly­ing to­wards you, a right-hand push on the stick will make it move to your right and not left. VER­DICT: The V666 is a good starter FPV quad­copter, and is great value con­sid­er­ing it in­cludes ev­ery­thing you need to fly for just £100. Spares are also read­ily avail­able (from China) and aren’t ex­pen­sive.

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