Elanview Cicada Review

The Elanview Cicada is a reasonably priced quadcopter packed with many features. The small aircraft will work with your smartphone, giving you the ability to control it and see what the camera is recording, just like the Parrot Bebop. However, we did notice that it’s not quite as stable in the air as the Bebop is, and the video quality isn’t as good either. Unfortunately, for most buyers, drones are still an expensive hobby, and you’ll have to be willing to spend some serious cash if you’d like to have a high-quality copter.

DESIGN & CONTROLS

The Cicada is much smaller than your average drone, measuring 3.4 by 9.4 by 9.4 inches (HWD) and weighing only a little over half a pound. It’s available in a white body with red, yellow, or teal accents, or black with silver accents and props. The motors are pointed downward and are protected by propeller guards. You’ll also receive two sets of spare propellers. It also comes with a small screwdriver that you can use to change the propellers if you damage them.

 

 

The aircraft broadcasts over its own Wi-Fi network. Once you’ve connected your iOS or Android smartphone to the drone, you’ll have the ability to control the Cicada using the free of charge Elanview app. On the app, you’ll see a live feed from the front camera, and the camera and flight controls.  The former allows you to take a picture, switch between video and image mode, and start or stop video recording.

While the flight controls are rather basic, they definitely get the job done. The on-screen directional pad, located on the left side of your phone’s display, yaws the drone on its axis and adjusts altitude. The right moves it backward, forward, right, and left. There’s also two alternative modes available – one that replaces the directional pads with virtual joysticks, and another that allows you to tilt your phone in any direction while using your finger to touch the right half of the screen to move the drone.

Taking off is easy. Just press and hold the Take Off button located at the bottom of the screen. Once the engines are on, that button changes to a Cut Off button. Tapping the Cut Off button will cut the power to the engines immediately. The Go Home button, which is located at the top of the display, will bring the aircraft back to its launch point; however, GPS must be enabled to use this feature.

PERFORMANCE

Since the Cicada comes equipped with GPS, you should find that it stays very stable in the air. During our tests, we found that the aircraft did a good job at staying mostly stable, even on a day with a slight breeze. However, we did notice that if a strong wind gust blew through it would affect the aircraft.

We did notice that it takes slightly longer than average to lock onto a GPS signal, but thankfully, the drone will not take off until it has made the lock. Try to avoid trying to launching under trees, as they can block the satellite signal and cause it fly more erratically than normal.

I was able to get the Cicada about 30 feet in the air and still had great control over it. I never had to worry about it ending up stuck on a roof somewhere. However, I wouldn’t suggest taking it up that high on a windy day. During low altitude flight tests a few feet above the ground, we were able to fly with no problems on calm and slightly windy days.

While you may be tempted to fly indoors, we wouldn’t suggest doing that with this drone. Without the GPS, the aircraft is very difficult to control, and you’ll risk the possibility of damaging something in your house, or injure someone. This thing puts out enough power to blow an empty large pizza box off a kitchen counter; therefore, I don’t want to think about what it could do to flesh. The Cicada is definitely an outdoor flyer only.

Unfortunately, we did experience a crash during our testing. Our good friend Mike managed to slam the aircraft into the side of a concrete building wall at a high rate of speed. He was unable to cut off the engine in time and one of the prop guards broke off on impact. One thing to mention, when replacing the props be careful not to lose the tiny screws that hold them in place. We happened to be recording video footage when the crash occurred, but it was corrupt. The user manual does state that you can use the app to fix a video clip if it becomes corrupt. We tried the steps the manual explains, VLC, and QuickTime, and none of those options was able to play the file.

Video footage is recorded in QuickTime format at 1080p30 quality with no sound. While Elanview refers to their camera lens as fish-eye, we wouldn’t quite call it that. It does capture a very wide field of view, but the video was slightly overexposed when shooting outdoors. The footage was fairly stable and didn’t wobble very often.

There’s no stabilization gimbal, so the Cicada is relying strictly on digital stabilization. The Parrot Bebop, which is also digitally stabilized, does do a better job at stabilizing, but the Cicada still does a good enough job.

Still images are captured in JPG format at a 16-megapixel resolution. The image sensor is a 1/2.3-inch Sony chip that does a great job with mixed lighting when snapping pictures. We did notice that purple fringing is noticeable when taking pictures in high contrast areas at the periphery of the frame. To alleviate this issue, we suggest you shoot a little wider, and then crop using editing software.

We got about 17 minutes in the air on a single charge. The great thing about the Cicada is that it comes with two batteries! When the battery begins to get low your phone will begin to vibrate and there will be a warning on your screen.

CONCLUSIONS

At a price point of under $400, the Elanview Cicada is definitely an appealing option for pilots who want to get a backyard drone. Just be mindful of the wind when flying this drone, as it didn’t fair too well on a windy day. The video quality is decent and remains stable. However, if you’re looking for something that’s more than just a backyard drone, you may want to consider the Parrot Bebop or the Phantom 3 Standard.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

GENERAL CAMERA
Diagonal Measurement: 170 mm (6.69 in) Image Sensor: Sony 1/2.3 SLR
Weight (with battery): 235 g (8.25 oz) Image Latency: 0.2 seconds
Control Range: 100 m (328 ft) Video Resolution: 1080p @30fps
Maximum Altitude: 100 m (328 ft) Video Format: H.264 (MPEG-4 ABC)
Photo Resolution: 16 MP (single shot)
Photo Format: jpeg

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