THE GOOD: The Blade Glimpse FPV is a palm-size quadcopter with a good 720p HD video camera that can live-stream to your smartphone or tablet. Two flight speeds for beginners or experienced pilots. Strong enough to fly outside, but small and flexible for indoor flights.
THE BAD: The Glimpse requires a 5.8GHz Wi-Fi-capable smartphone or tablet for FPV flight. Slight latency in video feed. Its body and propellers break a little too easily.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Blade Glimpse FPV is a good way to practice flying by camera alone without the cost or concern of damaging a pricier drone.
Most toy quadcopters are piloted by line of sight, meaning you fly while looking at the drone. FPV or first-person-view flying is instead done by looking at a live video feed from an onboard camera, either on a screen or FPV goggles. It’s a necessary skill if you’re interested in piloting racing or higher-end camera drones and one you’re better off practicing with something like the Blade Glimpse FPV.
At $170 (£135, AU$260) it’s pricier than your average palm-size quad, but those typically don’t have good cameras — this one can record 720p-resolution HD video and 1-megapixel photos to an included 8GB microSD card — or built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a phone or tablet for a live view from the camera.
Turn on the included controller, connect the copter’s 3.7V 500mAh 25C LiPo battery and it will create its own Wi-Fi network. Once you connect to the network with a mobile device — it must support 5.8GHz Wi-Fi for it to work — you open the Glimpse app available for Android and iOS and you’ll see what the camera sees and you can start and stop recordings and take stills.
The quad’s small size is perfect for navigating indoors and the landing gear does double duty as prop guards (though it doesn’t protect them from hard landings). The video downlink range is up to 80 feet (24 meters) and, while there is a slight lag, it’s still good enough to fly by in open spaces outside or around your house.
It looks and sounds like a small flying insect and although the motors are strong enough to fly outside, it’ll get blown around a bit in the wind. Otherwise, it’s very stable and getting it to hover is pretty easy. However, it will not hold altitude on its own, so you’ll need to constantly make micro adjustments to keep it at a specific height.
Battery life with video is average at about 6 to 8 minutes and will run you about $12 each for extras. Parts are reasonably priced and can be replaced with little difficulty. You’ll probably want to start by stocking up on propellers as they damage easily and tend to fly off when you crash.
Despite a bit of latency, the Blade Glimpse FPV is a good way to practice flying by camera alone without the cost or concern of damaging a pricier drone.