The HoverAir X1 is a $349 camera drone that follows you around like a puppy

Aug 17, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The HoverAir X1 is a $349 camera drone that follows you around like a puppy

Aug 17, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Zero Zero is the company that brought us the Hover Camera way back in 2016. Well, they’re now they’re back with the new HoverAir X1 (buy here). It’s a selfie drone that lets you get footage of yourself without a drone operator.

The HoverAir X1 is not like your regular drone, though. It’s designed purely for filming yourself. The flying equivalent of a smartphone camera. It will follow you, orbit around you, or do one of several other moves to spice up your holiday videos and vlogs.

YouTube video

The HoverAir X1 was first shown off in May. It ran through an extremely successful Indiegogo campaign, where it generated over $1.4 million. Now, the campaign’s over, and it’s gone to retail with orders now available directly through the Hover Camera website.

HoverAir X1 – Smaller size but also smaller resolution

The new camera is significantly smaller, and it both launches from and lands on your hand. It small size allows it to be extremely compact, letting you fit it easily into your pocket. This shrinkage has come at a cost, though. The 4K camera of the original has been dropped down to 2.7K. I’m not sure why, but there we go.

That being said, 2.7K isn’t terrible, even today. And with AI upscalers out there now, you can size it up to 4K while still getting decent detail. So, 2.7K in a 4K world might seem odd, but it’s not as big a deal as it once was. It would’ve been nice if it shot 4K, though.

It’s certainly not all bad, though. The advantages it offers over its predecessor more than make up for this slight loss in resolution.

It finally has a gimbal

The original Hover Camera relied on electronic image stabilisation in order to keep the shot looking steady. The new HoverAir X1 also uses electronic image stabilisation but it does so in conjunction with a gimbal.

Yes, ok, it’s only a single-axis gimbal, but this is probably the most useful in such a drone. The single axis controlled by the gimbal is the tilt axis (or “pitch” in drone speak). This is the bit you’re most likely to want to keep steady.

Any horizon tilt caused by a side-to-side rotation (roll) can easily be cleaned up by the electronic image stabilisation – I actually have a suspicion that the 2.7K resolution is probably down to the fact that EIS needs to crop in after stabilising everything.

And as for pan (yaw)… Well, you kinda don’t want the drone to correct for that, really. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve been out with a drone and during a pan or an orbit, the camera’s gotten confused and thinks it’s moving when it shouldn’t be or isn’t moving when it should. This can lead to jerky footage. You don’t have this issue with the HoverAir X1 because there’s no optical stabilisation in that axis.

So, it’s only a single-axis gimbal, but in a drone like this, with the types of moves it’s programmed to do, it makes sense and probably helps to reduce the overall cost of the drone.

It’s kind of a drone but also not

I keep calling it a drone and it sort of is, but probably not in the way you’re thinking, so it also sort of isn’t. Mostly, when you think of a “drone”, you think of… well, you think of a drone, don’t you? And a controller, and all the other stuff you need to go along with it.

There’s no controller with the HoverAir X1. It connects to your phone, but you don’t even use your phone as a real controller. In fact, you don’t even need to pull out your phone at all. You can just turn on the drone, choose your mode and tell it to go. Then, fold it back up and put it back in your pocket.

How many other drones on the market can you do that with?

HoverAir X1 Specs

Take-off and LandingFrom palm
Intelligent Flight Modes5
SensorsDownward visual sensor
Video modes2704 x 1520 @ 30fps
1920 x 1080 @ 60fps
1920 x 1080 @ 30fps (HDR)
Stabilisation1-axis gimbal, Electronic Image Stabilisation, Horizon Levelling
Live PreviewYes (via smartphone)
Max Preview Distance30m
Max altitude15m
Max wind resistance7.9m/sec
Internal storage32GB
Dimensions Unfolded127 x 145 x 30mm
Dimensions Folded127 x 86 x 31mm
Takeoff Weight125g

Who’s the HoverAir X1 drone for?

If you’re looking for “the drone experience”, this is not it. It’s an entirely different kind of flying altogether. The HoverAir X1 isn’t designed to let you go out and explore the wilderness or climb mountains without making a single step.

It’s designed to be your companion. To come with you on your journeys to document your life and memories for future posterity. Or it’s to document your escapades for social media. Whichever suits you best.

Ultimately, it’s a selfie drone. It captures you. It never goes more than 15 metres up, and I expect it probably doesn’t go much further out than that horizontally, either. But it’s designed to do this one task very well. And so far, demonstrations and reviews seem to show that it mostly does.

If you need something to document your life or travels from the air with the least amount of hassle and don’t want to actually have to learn how to fly a drone in order to do it, then this is definitely worth a look. There isn’t really anything else out there like it right now.

Price and Availability

The basic HoverAir X1 is available to buy now for $349.99 from the Hover website. The HoverAir X1 Combo, which includes an extra battery and the twin charger, is available to buy now for $399.99. Shipping has already begun.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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2 responses to “The HoverAir X1 is a $349 camera drone that follows you around like a puppy”

  1. Rob Tannenbaum Avatar
    Rob Tannenbaum

    Not a single mention of battery life or flight time per charge. Seriously?

    1. Angelo Avatar
      Angelo

      Wind conditions lower than 5 km/hr will give you 11 minutes on a full battery, it can fly with wind-speed of max 28 km/hr it will land automatically