The trend in consumer drones has been toward ease of use, safety, and limited autonomous flying. Those features just about reach their apex in the Typhoon Q500 4K by Yuneec.
No newcomer to aviation, Yuneec made its name in RC model planes and ultralight manned aircraft. The Typhoon, the company's first quadcopter and a logical progression from its previous aircraft, is a well-thought-out flyer, and the attention to detail, particularly where pilot experience is concerned, is indicative of the company's quarter century in flight.
The Typhoon retails for $1299.99 for the basic package. My unit arrived in the optional aluminum carrying case, which is about the size of a portable guitar amp. The case feels hefty and well-built, although I would have prefered a spongier material be swapped for the molded Styrofoam innards. It's a small complaint, and the guts of the case are easy enough to replace on your own if you're a spaz, which I am.
Out of the box, the Typhoon came just about ready to fly. It really is an attractive piece of equipment, and if DJI's drones always remind me of Star Wars, the sleek Typhoon looks like something out of Farscape.
My review kit came with the drone, gimbal, and camera already attached. The box included replacement propellers, a SteadyGrip pistol-style holder for handheld shooting with the detachable 4K camera, 16GB microSD card, two 5400 mAh batteries with charger, a beautifully laid out remote control with integrated tablet screen, and various doodads and spare parts for the inevitable rough landings.
With the batteries and handset charged, I set off for a nearby open area, something of a rarity in Los Angeles. I set the drone down and it began connecting with satellites. In a few seconds I got a ready signal, and then I was off and running.
The Typhoon has settings catering to various levels of flyer, as well as several features that make it a particularly safe and approachable choice for newer pilots. In Smart Mode, the Typhoon will always move in the direction the right-hand control stick is pushed relative to the pilot and no matter which way the front/nose is pointed. So if you push the stick to the left the Typhoon will always move to the left, regardless of the direction the nose is pointing and even if it's spinning. This is incredibly useful for pilots that lose orientation while flying, which all new pilots experience.
In Smart Mode, you can activate the Follow Me function. Follow Me allows the drone to follow the pilot, adjusting its location to the location of the ST10+ controller. This function is enabled when ST10+ GPS positioning completes.
If I have one complaint about this drone, it's that the calibrating the compass seems more cumbersome than on drones of comparable price. Instead of a smooth figure-8, which anyone living in the iPhone generation is familiar with, Yuneec's procedure requires a fairly intricate ballet of flipping and incremental rotation. It took me a few tries, though now that I've done it I'm sure the next attempt will go smoothly.
In Smart Mode, the Typhoon also offers a Watch Me function that enables the camera to keep tracking the remote control, a nice feature for hobbyists.
For more experienced pilots, Angle (or Pilot) mode transforms the Typhoon into a nimble, responsive, and impressively steady flyer. Built-in safety features, such as automatically enforced no-fly zones near airports and an FAA-mandated ceiling, are nice touches and should be standard on all drones soon. The Typhoon also has an automatic Home feature when batteries are running critically low. Pro tip: never press the limits of the battery with obstacles around, because home means home, as in a beeline back to the user.
Found that one out the hard way.
Conclusion: An excellent high end hobbyist drone with exceptional flight controls, a solid camera system, and features that let pilots advance up in skill level on one platform.
|Product Line||Yuneec Typhoon|
|Country Kits||United States|
|Manufacturer's Product Type||quadcopter with gimbal|
|Subcategory||vehicles - drones|
|Package Content||CGO Steadygrip, ST10+ ground station, battery|
|Operating Frequency||2.4 GHz|
|Diagonal Size||22.2 in|
|Max Angular Velocity||65° per second|
|Max Tilt Angle||35°|
|Max Vertical Velocity||6.6 feet per second|
|Max Horizontal Velocity||26.25 feet per second|
|Operating Voltage||12 V|
|Supported Flash Memory Cards||microSD|
|Flash Memory Cards Max Supported Capacity||128 GB|
|Sensor Resolution||12 megapixels|
|Video Recorder Resolutions||3840 x 2160|
|Frame Rate||30 frames per second|
|Supported Battery Configurations||3S|
|Voltage Provided||11.1 V|
|Run Time (Up To)||25 min|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Dimensions & Weight Details|
|Details||gimbal camera, personal ground station, steady grip|
|Width||7.4 in, 8.8 in|
|Depth||3 in, 9.5 in|
|Height||4.5 in, 7.1 in|
|Weight||13.9 oz, 6.9 oz|
|Min Operating Temperature||23 °F|
|Max Operating Temperature||176 °F|