iHelicopter is cool little toy with controls that throw a wrench in the works
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The iHelicopter uses the iPhone or iPod touch with a free app for a controller. The copter has a 3.7mAh battery inside that is rechargeable via USB. The transmitter plugs into the headphone port of the iPhone and sends the signals to the iHelicopter. The copter is available now for a bit under $60.
The iHelicopter is an interesting little copter. I have played with an almost identical copter before with the main difference being the other copter had a little wireless remote control. The iHelicopter uses the iPhone and an app to control the copter. The transmitter plugs into the headphone port of the iPhone, I used my iPhone 4 for testing. The transmitter has to be charged via USB as well as the helicopter.
The app provides control over the helicopter and is available on the App Store right now. You can control the copter for left, right, forward, backwards, and hover from the app. My review unit was also the version of the copter that has little flashing lights you can turn off and on with the app. The app and copter work with three different bands so you can fly more than one copter at a time.
I had to play a bit of a guessing game with the app when I went to the App Store to download it. There are a couple other apps called iHelicopter, but I found the right one. Once I installed the app on my iPhone 4, I had to choose the model of helicopter I was flying for one page of the app. Once that was done, I was ready to fly.
I realized right away that the iHelicopter was missing the ability to trim the up and down motion of the toy. It does have a trim control for the rotation of the copter to the left or right. I guess the app developer though that rather than have a trim control for up and down that they would just make the left virtual stick on the app used for throttle, which controls up or down, stay where you place it. The problem I had was that the up and down stick was so sensitive that any movement meant the copter was either climbing to the ceiling or falling to the floor.
I could not get the helicopter to simply hover. The other issue was that if you hit a wall or ceiling you can't just let go of the throttle that controls altitude since it stays where you leave it. That means that copter was often flopping around on the floor while I fumbled for the virtual stick to make it stop.
I would have much rather had the throttle control for up and down return to center when I let it go like the right stick for controlling forward, back, left, and right does. The lack of a altitude trim and the stick staying where you put it rather than returning to center makes the iHelicopter much more difficult to fly than other toys of this sort I have used that have a normal controller. My daughter was unable to fly the iHelicopter because of the controls and she flew the one I had with a normal remote all over the house. I hope an update come for the app that adds in trim and makes the altitude left stick return to center.
I liked the iHelicopter, but it was hard to fly thanks to the app controls. I hope an update to the app comes that makes controlling the altitude easier.
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