I was offered the chance to review a Lightspeed i-Helicopter – well I like my toys but I knew that Chris would love it even more so here he is to guest blog and review it for me. Over to you Chris…….
So about two weeks ago I received the Lightspeed i-Helicopter. It’s a fun twist on a normal remote control helicopter – it works using your smartphone as a controller! Being Apple geeks, Hannah and I both have iPhones, but according to the instructions it works with quite a few Android phones too. The control app is free to download, and it works using an infrared dongle that you plug into the headphone port of your phone. It even lets you turn the flashing led lights on and off whilst in flight!
I’ve flown a couple of remote control helicopters before, but this was certainly the easiest one I have come across to get started with. It has a built in gyroscope, which makes a big difference, controlling the rotor blade speed to make sure it doesn’t end up in a spin. It was good to get started inside, where there is no wind to blow it sideways, and a roof to make sure you don’t lose it going too high, and before too long I was able to fly it reasonably well around my kitchen, even flying off the floor onto the worktop and back down again!
Once I had mastered the controls, I ventured outside to try it in the safety of my trampoline (which has an enclosing net). Even on a still day, the air currents forced it towards the nets almost immediately after takeoff, so it took a lot more effort to control. Whats more, because the control is light based, rather than radio, the much brighter conditions outside made flying the chopper more than about 2 metres from the phone impossible. Fortunately, when the signal was washed out by daylight the helicopter power cut out, so it won’t fly off on it’s own on a sunny day! I never had any control problems inside, even with all the lights on and pointing the remote in the opposite direction it worked perfectly.
Battery life is pretty good too – there is only one charging lead for both the control dongle and the helicopter, with a USB socket on one end, so you’ll be needing a spare phone charger or socket on your computer for charging. Charging the helicopter takes about 30 mins and the dongle takes 45 mins or so. In flight, the helicopter lasts about 5 mins, but the dongle lasts much longer, I have only charged it twice so far compared with charging the helicopter about 10 times.
All in all I like this little helicopter a lot. It isn’t really suitable for flying outside much, but I can’t wait to get it into a big indoor hall to have a play there to see if it performs as well as in my kitchen. Barring that, it’s biggest downside is also one of it’s strong points. With a traditional controller, you have knobs and levers to control lift and direction. It is a little harder to control lift on a touchscreen, and much harder to control direction, but I found the alternative method offered to be easier than its traditional competitors. That little gem is the ability to use the phone’s internal gyroscope to offer tilt control instead of the on screen direction lever. With a little practice this was a very easy way to manoeuvre, and I would say more intuitive than a lever based control. Do remember the fact you’re using the headphone port though. That phone call, message, tweet or email you’re expecting might just cause the helicopter to plummet! Airplane mode is a must for safe flying!
It is definitely a toy that takes patience and a bit of indoor room to use, but if you’re up for a challenge, or considering getting a bigger radio-controlled helicopter for outdoors, this is a fun (and much cheaper) starting point, and something a bit different.
You can find out more about the iHelicopter here.
This is a sponsored post and for full disclosure purposes, we received a Lightspeed i-Helicopter in return for a product review. Courtesy of FuelMyBlog