Rating & Features
- Stable aerial video.
- Solid operating range.
- Easy to fly.
- Automated takeoff and landing.
- Compact design.
- Return-to-home and other safety features.
- Modular design.
- Comfortable remote control.
The Xiro Xplorer V is a small compact drone that can fly as far and high as most larger models. It also features advanced features like a mode that will allow the pilot to fly it home even if you’re unaware of which direction it’ pointing, and a geofence feature which will prevent it from flying out of operating range. The Xplorer is very stable in the air and the gimbal-mounted camera captures video that is extremely smooth. However, the camera itself isn’t as great as we would’ve like it to be. We noticed some barrel distortion, but this drone overall is a very good choice for drone enthusiasts who want to save a little bit of money.
We’ve tested the Parrot Bebop which is best to fly at modest operating distances and altitudes. The Xplorer V on the other hand is capable of flying as far and as high as a larger model like the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. The Xplorer measures 15.7 by 15.7 inches (WD), which isn’t much bigger than a Bebop. It weighs about 2.2 pounds, so be ready to register with the FAA before you take flight.
The drone is finished in black, has lights under each of its four arms, and four rotors. The landing legs, which are constructed with plastic, fold up for storage purposes. They held their weight during landings and always stayed locked into place when not in the folded position.
One flight battery and two sets of propellers are included. During our testing we found that we got just about 22 minutes of flight time. Also, once the drone’s battery reaches 10 percent it will automatically fly home and land. As I mentioned before, one battery is included and additional batteries can be purchases at a price of $129.99. The battery clips to the undercarriage and locks into place with a switch. The battery as well as the camera module are very easy to install and remove quickly with no tools required.
The remote is finished with the same black color as the aircraft. There’s a clip to accommodate your mobile device that you can use to view the feed from the Xplorer’s camera. The clip also has the ability to slide into the remote when not in use. It’s also mounted on a ball socket so you have the ability to adjust its position, unfortunately it’s not big enough to support a phablet. We found that it supported the iPhone 6 with no problem, but a iPhone 6 Plus was slightly too large. The connection is made via Wi-Fi and a control app is available for Android and iOS. With the app, you’re able to switch between still capture and video, and make adjustments to exposure and camera settings.
The remote has right and left control sticks, a dedicated button to land and take off, a toggle switch labeled 1/2/3 that changes the level of control the pilot has, a button to activate Orientation Control (IOC), and a home button that will bring the aircraft back to its takeoff point automatically. There are also two control wheels, one tilts the camera down and up, and the other is used to adjust the exposure compensation to change the brightness of stills and videos.
Initiating the IOC will change the way the pilot controls the drone. During normal operation, pulling the right stick moves the aircraft backward, and pushing it forward does the opposite. When IOC is active, pulling back on the stick will bring the Xplorer closer to its launch point, and pushing it forward causes it to fly away, regardless of which way the noise is pointing. This is a great feature to use when you don’t know which way the aircraft is pointing. The left stick always controls rotation and altitude and IOC being enabled or disabled has no influence on this.
PERFORMANCE & VIDEO QUALITY
The 1/2/3 toggle switch is used when the pilot wants to limit the Xplorer’s capability. Mode 1 sets a cap on the maximum altitude to 164 feet, the maximum speed to 4.5mph vertically and horizontally, and the distance from the takeoff point to 328 feet. Mode 2 will step up the maximum altitude to 394 feet, which is also the FAA limit for drone flight in the US. The vertical flight speed is still limited to 4.5mph, but the horizontal maximum speed sees an increase to 13.4mph and is able to fly 984 feet away from the launch point. Mode 3 is the mode we refer to as “free” mode. It increases the maximum distance from the launch point to 1,968 feet, increases the maximum vertical speed to 6.7mph, and the maximum horizontal speed to 17.9mph.
During our testing, using the range extender, we were able to fly just about 1,968 feet away with no drops in the video signal. We did notice that the range distance is better when flying in a rural area rather than a suburban area. We were also able to achieve a top speed of 17mph.
The integrated camera shoots silent video footage at 1080p at 30fps and 720 footage at 60fps. The captured footage is saved in QuickTime format at 12Mbps bit rate. Although the compression rate isn’t that great, the footage is still very good. The details are crisp and compression artifacts are minimal.
The gimbal does a great job stabilizing footage during flight and the white balance is on point. You don’t have to worry about seeing rotors when making turns or flying forward at maximum speed thanks to the ultra-wide field of view of the lens. If you really like the Xplorer but are looking for a higher-quality camera, the Xplorer G includes a gimbal mount for a GoPro camera, giving you the ability to capture 4K video footage. The video does have a fish-eye look. But, that’s something you can easily remove using editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC or proDAD Defishr.
Still image capture is available in JPG format at 14-megapixel resolution. The image quality is just as good as you would get from a point-and-shoot camera, with the same wide-angle field of view as the video. However, it’s at a 4:3 aspect ratio compared to the 16:9 that is used for the video.
Raw capture is also supported with the Xplorer V. However, you will have to follow Xiro’s instructions to open them in a program like Adobe Photoshop CC. Xiro also has instructions on how to convert to BMP format. We don’t really understand why they decided to provide support to BMP format since it’s not really used anymore and they are huge in size. The Raw converter the Xiro provides on their website is only compatible with Windows operating systems.
While the Xiro Xplorer V isn’t the most popular drone out there, but it’s a great performer. It’s a good smaller aircraft that can be transported very easily. It’s capable of flying above the 400-foot altitude limit set forth by the FAA, has a good operating range, and the video footage is very stable. The video quality itself isn’t the best at 1080p when compared to 2.7K and 4K. However, the 1080p footage it is able to record is extremely crisp.
If the video was stronger, we would have given this drone a five star rating. So, if you’re looking for better video you’ll have to spend a little more money. The Phantom 3 Advanced can offer you 2.7K video capture, but will cost you at least $1,000. With that said, the Phantoms are also larger than the Xplorer V and about one pound heavier. Therefore, backpackers will definitely appreciate the Xplorer’s small size and weight.
| Capacity: 5200 mAh
|| Operating Frequency: 5.8 GHz
|| Diagonal Size: 13.8 in
|| Sensor Resolution: 14
| Run Time (Up To): 25 min
|| Max Operating Distance: 394 ft
|| Vertical Hovering Accuracy: +/- 1.64 feet
|| Video Recorder Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
|| Horizontal Hovering Accuracy: +/- 4.9 feet
|| Frame Rate: 30 frames per second
|| Max Angular Velocity: 200 degree per second
|| Max Tilt Angle: 35 degree
|| Interface: Wi-Fi
|| Wi-Fi Bands: 5 GHz