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Product Reviews

Blade Pico QX and HobbyZone Faze Quadcopters

Small quads make for great fun

March 12, 2015

Very cool things can come in tiny packages, and the HobbyZone Faze and Blade Pico QX quadcopters prove it. Maybe you’re new to unmanned aerial vehicles, or perhaps you’re looking for something new to zoom around the house or office. Either way, these ultra-small multirotors fit the bill if you're looking to buy a drone.
Highlights
  • Super-small quad
  • Auto-flip makes you look cool
  • Everything you need in one tiny box

System specs

  • HobbyZone Faze
  • Available: Horizon Hobby
  • Rotor type: Quadcopter
  • Weight: .43 ounces
  • Flight time: 3 minutes
  • Price: $29.99
Hobbyzone Faze

HobbyZone squarely targets novice quadcopter pilots with the fun-sized Faze. Just a bit bigger around than a Ritz cracker, this little quad takes about 20 minutes to charge via a USB cable you can connect to your computer. After popping the two included AAA batteries into the equally small 2.4GHz transmitter, I was ready to go.

Once the transmitter and the Faze were on, I armed the quad’s motors by moving the throttle stick (the left one) from no power to full power and back. Faze’s lights shone steady, telling me to takeoff. It took a bit for me to get Faze in trim, and even then, you can never go completely hands-off. It’s extremely small, so the slightest air current will push it around. Again because of size, holding a steady altitude can be tricky. But with a little practice and patience, it can be done.

I love the auto-flip function. Press the right control stick then push it in the direction you want the Faze to flip. It's that easy. Forward, backward, right, or left, the Faze performs tight flips that are a treat to watch. Make sure to have about 5 feet of altitude before flipping, because you'll lose height. However, once I knew how the Faze reacted after a flip, it was an easy thing to anticipate the altitude loss and compensate with the throttle and lose almost none at all.
Jim Forbes
The body is made of light plastic, but the chassis is a circuit board with the motors built in. Rubber pads on the bottom of the motor mounts provide plenty of cushion for the inevitable hard landings. And should you happen to accidentally swoop into the coffee table or graze the wall, don't worry. The plastic props have enough give that you shouldn't cause any damage. (In case you do get a little carried away and break a prop or crack the body, Hobby-Zone provides spares.)

While flight times will vary depending upon your flying style, I typically eked out about 5 minutes with the Faze. Once, I went flip crazy and barely got 3 minutes in the air. For me, it's a little long to wait 20 minutes between flights, so it was nice to have a second quad to play with.
Highlights
  • Smooth, stable flight
  • Amaze your friends with double flips
  • 2.4GHz transmitter with batteries included
System Specs
  • Blade Pico QX
  • Available: Horizon Hobby
  • Rotor type: Quadcopter
  • Diameter: 2 inches
  • Weight: .28 ounces
  • Flight time: 5 minutes
  • Price: $39.99
Blade Pico QX

The tiny Pico QX shares a lot of similarities with the Faze. In fact, it has a similarly-sized circuit-board chassis. However, it sports a different body style, rotor guards, upgraded electronics, and is a good deal lighter.

Looking like an albino beetle, the Pico is very stable and flies smoothly — so smoothly it makes the Faze look erratic. A lot of this is due to Horizon's SAFE programming, limiting Pico's pitch and roll and providing a good deal more self-leveling than the Faze. I was comfortable right off the bat with Pico, flying from room to room in my house and wasting time — I mean, garnering useful data — around the office.

The rotor guards make a nice addition to the Pico. Delicate enough not to hinder flight, the guards keep the props from chewing up an obstacle should you fly too close, but also keep them from hitting the floor if you land inverted.
Jim Forbes
By pressing the throttle stick and then moving the right stick forward, back, left, or right, you can signal Pico to flip, just like with the Faze. But there's something niftier you can do: Press the throttle stick twice and then signal the flip, and the Pico performs two flips one right after the other. Cool!

Charging the Pico usually took about 30 minutes, with 5 minutes being the average flight time.
In closing

I like both of these quadcopters. Either the Faze or Pico QX would make a great entry into the world of small, hobby quads. Both look cool, you can fly them practically anywhere indoors, and neither will break your bank account. They're small, so stability can be an issue, and they don't have the longest flight times. If you want something with first-person view or a video camera so you can get a nice shot of your next family cookout, these aren't the quads you're looking for. However, you'll definitely have a blast buzzing from room to room and impressing friends and family when you get these babies to roll over — something you still haven't taught Fido to do.


Note: A version of this review appears in the Drone360 March 2015 issue.
Featured image: Jim Forbes