LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter Review @ ModSynergy.com
By: Michael Phrakaysone

 

The word drone has become a popular one worldwide.  We live in an exciting generation where innovative technologies such as these are available to us to use.  These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are just one of the many technologies that we as regular citizens can enjoy.  We even have examples of large companies such as Amazon and DHL using these types of aircraft to deliver goods. 

The word drone is quite a general term that has been misused.  Drones down to its basic form are multi-rotor aircraft.  Just as helicopters utilize a single motor, drones in the same way can utilizes as many motors as its design calls for and therefore makes them more flexible and complex.  I call them a hybrid combination of airplane and helicopter giving the best of both worlds.  The most popular form today is called the Quadcopter (quad meaning four, copter meaning a type of aircraft).  You've probably heard of this type of drone, which is a worldwide sensation in the RC (Radio Control) toy market and unbelievably fun for the young and old.  

More or likely you are familiar with the one that costs over $1000 and has an onboard HD camera that has created all the commotion regarding privacy laws. That's not exactly the one you'll be reading about today though, something more smaller and still unbelievably fun is what I will share with you today.  You might even want to purchase and experience one for yourself, or your children, this coming 2015 Christmas Holiday season.

I'll be reviewing my second ever Quadcopter from a relatively young Canadian company called LiteHawk.  What makes this one different is that it comes with an onboard video camera!  Today the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter gets reviewed by ModSynergy!  Find out what I think and see the SNAP in action with photos and videos of my experience.  Let's get this review started!

About LiteHawk

The LiteHawk brand is owned by Borgfeldt (Canada) Limited of Markham, Ontario. It originated in the spring of 2010 with the original LiteHawk helicopter. Today the LiteHawk brand (designed by Canadians) includes over 45 radio controlled boats, drones, traditional helicopters, airplanes and vehicles.

LiteHawk prides itself on the very best customer service by providing easy access to replacement parts and a 1-800 number to enable the LiteHawk product owner to talk to a technician. The LiteHawk difference is out the box the product produces a WOW play experience and if support is needed LiteHawk has the service to back up the brand.

LiteHawk products are available North America wide.

Canadian shops include: The Source, Best Buy, Mastermind, Toys R Us, Tractor Supply Stores and independent toy shops across Canada.

USA shops include: Fry’s Electronics, Bass Pro, Air Traffic Kites & Games

More information can be found at: www.litehawk.ca

LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter Description

SNAP an image, SNAP some video and have fun doing it too! Our newest quad comes fully featured with adjustable flight modes, fully digital stabilization and 2.4 GHz control! The unique clam-shell design protects internal electronics and motors! SNAP also comes with removable rotor guards and "high lift" landing gear, shown above. This protects SNAP when you are flying in tight spaces or when you are just learning.

 

LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter Features

  • Factory Assembled & Ready for Adventure
  • Digital 6 axis stabilization
  • The 2.4Ghz radio lets you fly without the fear of losing signal. Not to mention there are no set channels, so you can fly multiple at the same time.
  • Capture in flight video and photos
  • Micro SD card and USB reader included
  • 30 fps Broadcast Standard
  • 16 bit Audio with Uncompressed .avi format
  • Sized right for both indoor and outdoor excursions
  • Advanced "Low Battery" warning system protects your on board Li-Po battery
  • Advanced LED system for night flying
  • Learning System with removable rotor guards and "high lift" landing gear included

First Impressions

LiteHawk

LiteHawk packages the QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter in a nicely designed corrugated box.  Up front we see LiteHawk's signature red and white color scheme and a clear window showcasing the SNAP Quadcopter on the left hand side.  A photo of the SNAP showcasing the onboard camera sits beside this clear window with a small description reading Built in video camera so you can capture it all!  LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP is a ready to fly (RTF) package meaning it comes with both Quadcopter and transmitter (controller) and is factory assembled so no customer assembly is needed.  Just take it out of the box, insert the battery, and start flying. 

The LiteHawk logo and model name are the biggest graphics on the box so the packaging is easily seen on store shelves.  If you've read my LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter review, the SNAP borrows the same philosophy of red color propellers and LED's in the rear and white color propellers and LED's in the front mimicking that of a vehicle, this helps tremendously with orientation when in the air.    LiteHawk's done the most logical thing with their design and other manufactures should take note.   I can only imagine how difficult it would be differentiating front from rear if everything was one color.

The suggested age for operation is ages 10 and over.   A circular symbol mentions that the Quadcopter is 4 channels, which pretty much all Quadcopters support as these move in every direction, throttle and yaw (up/down) on the left stick, and pitch and roll (left/right) on the right stick of the controller.  We're also shown a picture of a USB cord which suggests that this can be charged through any USB port.  Quadcopter's like the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP comes with digital stabilization through the use of a 6-axis gyro which in turn uses 3 accelerometers to control and maintain its orientation and stability despite vibrations of the motors and outdoor element like the wind, trying to throw it off.  This helps ensure that anyone can pick up the controller and fly with relative ease.

Turning over to the back of the box reveals what the controller looks like for the SNAP and that it uses the 2.4GHz wireless band to let you fly, in LiteHawk's mind, without any worries of frequencies or channels.  Ironically though 2.4GHz is the same frequency that most people use on their wireless internet routers and other wireless devices, so there is a possibility of interference though usually it shouldn't be an issue. 

Again we're met with the photo showcasing the SNAP's onboard video camera.  LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP makes use of Standard Definition onboard video camera outputting a resolution of 640x480.  This is no HD video camera but for something of this size this will suffice.  Further investigation reveals that the video camera uses the Motion JPEG Video codec (MJPG) and films at 30 fps.  Files are saved in the .AVI video container.  Audio is recorded in 16-bit Mono and makes use of a 22050Hz Sample rate. 

Because the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP has an onboard video camera, LiteHawk is generous enough to bundle a micro SD card and USB card reader to help you get up and running.

Opening the box we find the following items:

  • LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter
  • Transmitter/Controller
  • Rechargeable Lithium-polymer Battery (380mAh)
  • USB Charge Cable
  • Replacement propellers (4 pcs)
  • Metal Propeller Removal Tool
  • 512MB or 1GB micro SD card (depends on which package you get)
  • micro SD card reader.
  • Users Manual (English/French)

Quadcopter Bundle

I really like the fact that LiteHawk bundles a full set of replacement propellers with the Quadcopter, this is something that should be included in every Quadcopter purchase. 

A very interesting metal propeller removal tool is included and comes in handy when you need to replace it down the road.

The included manual is written in English and French and is very clear and easy to understand with plenty of text and images to help the flyer understand the ins and outs of the Quadcopter. 

Full disclosure: The first LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter I had received prematurely died and pretty quickly.  I was sent a replacement SNAP Quadcopter package and noticed the contents, while looking the same, came with a larger capacity micro SD card (1GB on the replacement, compared to 512MB on the old), had a different looking micro SD card reader, and I noticed through video playback that the replacement had a completely different onboard video camera module, which turns out to be  much better quality video camera (better color rendition, less dull looking video, better audio) than the other first one I'd received that prematurely died.  So I would guess somewhere along the line the factory switched to a newer and better camera module powered by a Generplus chipset. 

LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Visual Overview

Measuring diagonally from motor to motor the QUATTRO SNAP measures approximately 4.88 inches or 12.4 cm.  Side to side it measures 3.9 inches or 10 cm.  With the removable propeller guards on, from propeller guard end to propeller guard end, is just short of 7 inches or 17.7 cm.   In flight condition the SNAP tips in at 49 grams without propeller guards and 52 grams with them on.  This makes the SNAP a bit smaller overall physically than the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON I recently reviewed and also 10-13 grams lighter depending on if you fly with or without the removable propeller guards.

Drone

The propeller guards on the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP are removable and snap off and on very easily.  However, I'm not a fan of its design and like to fly with it off as its more livelier and affects how it recovers from 360 degree flips.  I don't like them because the guards sit at a lower height than the propeller blades, which doesn't really make sense to me.  These propeller guards only make a difference under certain crash conditions, they are almost useless in most other scenarios you will surely come across. 

With the propeller guards on, I managed to crash and break two propellers at different times within the first few flights of flying.  The funny thing is that the propeller blades are flexible and did not get damaged, the point of breakage was the propellers shattering down the center of the shaft.  I very much like the integrated propeller guards on the other LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON I reviewed, that one protects the propellers in just about every scenario and I've had 0 broken propellers in just under 50 or so flights, so I've never had to touch the replacement parts.  That design is a superior one and would be suited for a true beginner.  A beginner will make mistakes and crash 100% and the NEON wins on the durability department because of its ring body design protectors its propellers.  It also in my opinion affects flight characteristics and I feel causes air turbulence that makes 360 flip recovery worse than with it completely off.

In terms of Quadcopter construction, the body is fully plastic and has a bit of a creamy white color and has some degree of being translucent but not as to the degree that was on the QUATTRO NEON.  The plastic on the SNAP feels a little more sturdier than the one on the NEON which is always good.    

LED

The LED lights inside illuminate through parts of the SNAP and while not as bright as the light show that is the QUATTRO NEON, the LED's on this SNAP are still very useful for night time flights!  As with the NEON, the SNAP has borrowed that logical color scheme for orientation, mimicking how a vehicle looks  with white headlights at the front and red lights in the rear (think rear brake lights).  Orientation of a Quadcopter can be tricky for a beginner and this really helps and is very smart of LiteHawk.  Further assistance for better orientation is the use of colored propeller blades, again, white in the front and red in the rear.  Imagine how difficult it would be for a beginner differentiating front and rear if everything was one color and if there were no lights. 

Drone LED

Styling wise the QUATTRO SNAP is not as futuristic racer looking as the QUATTRO NEON was, the SNAP is more of a conventional Quadcopter Drone design, however, still looks quite nice overall.  It's just not as "out there" as the NEON design is, but that's just my opinion.  With the nice creamy white body shell, pure white and red propeller blades, there's enough accents to help out the overall styling.  Also the plastic landing legs as some visual flair to the SNAP's character.

The SNAP comes with a battery door at the side profile front of the Quadcopter.  There's a small locking mechanism that allows you to open and close and have access to the battery compartment.  However, in use, this battery door is impossible to shut completely because there's just not enough room to house the battery and jam all the wires in.  So I've had to fly without the battery door, which can be easily removed.  Performance is not affected.  A replacement battery door is part of the bundle just in case it breaks because it does feel like it can be broken, the hinge plastic is tiny.  But since I've not been able to use it, makes no difference.  Just a design oversight. 

A 3.7V Lithium Polymer battery is included, its rated at 380mAh capacity.  The battery does not specify a C charge/discharge rate that the NEON's battery did.  A date stamp on the battery indicates that the battery was made on April 22, 2015 so it's still relatively recent.  The Quadcopter battery uses a micro-T connector (also known as micro LOSI) which takes some getting used to when removing as the connector maintains a secure connection. 

At the bottom of the SNAP and beside the camera lens hump is where an ON/OFF switch is present.  I love this and its always welcome on such an application, some Quadcopters/drones don't have a power switch and it's a drawback in my eyes not to have one.  As briefly mentioned, the SNAP has integrated landing legs instead of rubber landing feet as on the NEON. 

LiteHawk Drone

2.4GHz Flight Controller Overview

2.4GHz

An Xbox 360 gamepad style flight controller comes with the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP and uses the 2.4GHz wireless band.  This controller is considerably bulkier than the one that came on the QUATTRO NEON which I very much enjoyed.  This SNAP flight controller is just too chunky and makes it not the most comfortable to fly with.  It doesn't have a more noticeable recessed hump on the underside of the controller that the NEON flight controller had to allow you to grip your fingers over.

The SNAP flight controller also comes with thumb pads instead of sticks that came with the NEON's flight controller.  I personally feel sticks are better for flying, however, these thumb pads are manageable and work well.  I love that it comes with slip on rubber thumb pads.  You can take it off if you like, however, they become really slippery with it off, its best to leave these anti-slip rubber on the thumb pads.  It still becomes somewhat slippery after extensive use, however, it's a ton of help than without.

Drone

It's good to note that the first LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP that I was sent (and prematurely died) had a slight issue with the left analog thumb pad, it would get semi stuck/sticky when moving left.  The replacement did not have this issue and was smooth in every direction, thought I'd share. 

This flight controller weighs 251 grams making it more heftier than the 170 grams NEON flight controller (weight is with battery) so you definitely feel it while flying.  Construction wise, it's made of hard and thick plastic making it feel high quality.  The controller plastic is stronger than the Quadcopter plastic by far, it's just really solid and has no flex.  This flight controller is operated by 4 AA batteries.

Controller

The movement of the analog sticks offer good feedback and equal amounts of spring loaded tension on both sticks.  It doesn't really feel with these thumb pads that this flight controller has more range of motion to work than compared to the NEON flight controller.  So I feel while it's not as good as the NEON flight controller, it's still fairly good.  I do feel this controller is less linear in the way it responds to commands.  It ramps a little too quick in my opinion and therefore suffers from touchy throttle and sensitive reactions.  This makes achieving a hover harder than it needs to be, this flight controller needs a lot of correction in the air, more than I experienced with the QUATTRO NEON. 

The top center power button lights up with a red LED light that illuminates the power symbol.  It also glows blue when you are inside picture and video camera recording modes. 

One of the reasons I liked the QUATTRO NEON flight controller was because it didn't have too much going on, this one on the SNAP has a bit too much going on and some of its buttons are not logically placed in my opinion.  If you have a busy flight controller, you must have labels, unfortunately, these numerous buttons on the SNAP flight controller are not labeled. 

Here's a diagram of the flight controller and all of its' functions that you eventually have to remember since there's no labeling.

2.4GHz

Unlike the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON having three (3) modes, this QUATTRO SNAP only has two (2) modes; Standard and Sport.  These modes are differentiated by audible beeps when the mode button is pressed.  Press once and you'll hear one beep for Standard Mode (50% response rate), press again and you'll hear two beeps for Sport Mode (100% response rate). 

The SNAP under Standard mode is great for beginners as its very subdued and just not aggressive allowing you the pilot to understand how to fly, this slowness also allows you to have video camera recordings that are as steady as they can be on such a small size Quadcopter as the SNAP is.  So panning or yaw, is slow, pitch and rolls are well subdued.   Standard mode makes the SNAP a pretty slow, steady, and relaxing Quadcopter to fly indoors.  In Standard mode, you cannot fly the SNAP outside in windy weather (maximum 5 KM/H winds) as it just does not have the speed to push through the air.

Once you become more experienced, and or when you want some more fun, then you can enter Sport mode which opens everything up and makes the SNAP a completely different Quadcopter.  The Sport mode on the SNAP is a world's difference than the Sport mode on the NEON.  However, there's such a large gap between the SNAP's normal mode and sport mode that it becomes puzzling to me why there wasn't an in between or middle mode.  

The SNAP becomes super agile, super quick, and just overall very snappy and very responsive in its Sport mode.  In this mode the yaw and pitch and roll become proportional to each other allowing you to achieve great banked turns because the yaw and pitch and roll are both quick, and therefore the turning radius becomes small and tight and not remotely as large as the turning radius is on the QUATTRO NEON.  The SNAP is just a really aggressive and truly sporty flyer in Sport mode.  The pitch and roll ability and the way and degree it tilts under Sport mode allow you to really do things that aren't possible on the NEON.  The delay from stopping while performing pitch and roll as I experienced on the NEON because of the big body, I don't experience this on the SNAP in Sport mode, its super agile and super responsive to any input so you have to be precise.  I think it makes you a better flyer overall.

One difference between the NEON and SNAP is the 360 degree flips.  With the NEON you simply press once, let go of the button, and select a direction to flip.  Well with the SNAP it's a little different for some reason, honestly it should be the same between all LiteHawk products.  With the SNAP, the difference is you have to push and hold the flip button while selecting your direction of flip with the right pitch and roll stick.  Not a fan of needing to push and hold the flip button, especially when I'm flying both SNAP and NEON back to back it throws me off. 

Flips are so much fun to see in action and the SNAP does it better overall than the NEON simply because its lighter, so the flips are tighter and the flip recovery is better than the NEON.  I recommend to give an extra punch of throttle while entering your flip or else the weight of the Quadcopter will force it to descend.  If done correctly, the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP performs very good flips. 

How Does The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Fly?  What Are My Thoughts?  See my flights!

First of all I'm a little lost to what LiteHawk wants the SNAP to be as the difference between normal mode and sport modes are so vastly different.  There's some identity crisis going on with the SNAP.  I think it's a disservice not to have a second in between/middle mode, reminding me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  What is the true identity of the SNAP?  It has an on-board camera, therefore is the SNAP a camera Quadcopter?  Or is the SNAP a sport flyer in its super aggressive sport mode? 

In normal mode it's too slow (yaw/pitch & roll - ideal for video recordings) to film video outside.  Even in moderate winds, it just can't fight the wind at this slow of a rate, and putting it into Sport mode while filming video makes it have way too fast panning because the yaw is too quick in Sport mode.  Add the fact that the SNAP is just too physically small and therefore the video is just too shaky for any decent use.  The body is just too small to get good video footage, the wind will either fight it or in really windy conditions, picks the SNAP up and makes it drift away.  You always end up with shaky video regardless.  In the end, I feel that the SNAP having an on-board video camera is just a novelty that serves little to no purpose, I feel it's more suited of being a sport flyer than a camera Quadcopter. 

The camera on the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP is SD quality 640 x 480 resolution, but it's actually quite good video quality than I expected, I was surprised.  The photos are interpolated and not very good at all though, but they are still usable.  Full disclosure though, the first SNAP that died prematurely had a worse video camera module (dull colors, not as clear video) than the replacement SNAP I had received, so there is evidently two versions of camera versions on the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP floating out there.   The second (better) one has a Generplus brand chipset as it plugs this name in all of its video.  It records in the .AVI video container and has okay audio quality. 


The worse part of the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP's video camera is the fixed lens and how LiteHawk decided it was best idea to point the lens downward. The degree of tilt the camera is faced is just really weird to me, its pointed  downward at least 25-30 degrees so you have to fly the SNAP up so high to get footage of what you want to record.  It's unrealistic to have a beginner fly up so high up in the air, most will not be brave enough to go up that high since they are scared and having them spot a small Quadcopter of this size so high up in the air makes it quite hard to see let alone navigate.  Worse is that the small body is prone to drifting away if you catch winds, I've tried myself flying in 15-25 KM/H winds and the SNAP got pulled away by gust of winds, but thankfully I saved it and managed to crash hard into a garage door.  I will give the SNAP kudos though as it withstood the crash without anything being broken, just having minor scratches.  Needless to say I won't be trying that ever again.  The lens tilt makes no sense to me, the lens should be facing forward, at least at a 5 degrees downward, instead now you have videos that have a lot of ground footage. 

Going back to how does it fly, the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP is overall in my opinion, a very good flyer and I would lump this into an indoor cruiser and outdoor sport flyer and not a camera Quadcopter.  I think the video camera on the SNAP is just a novelty.  It should not have had one. 

The SNAP under Standard mode is great for beginners as its very subdued and just not remotely aggressive allowing you the pilot to understand how to fly, this slowness makes everything steady and suited for indoor flying.  It's just relaxing to fly the SNAP indoors in normal mode.  The pitch and roll in this mode is not proportional to the yaw speed though.

Once you become more experienced, and or when you want some more fun, then you can enter Sport mode which opens everything up and makes the SNAP a completely different Quadcopter.  The Sport mode on the SNAP is a world's difference than the Sport mode on the NEON.  However, there's such a large gap between the SNAP's normal mode and sport mode that it becomes puzzling to me why there wasn't an in between or middle mode. 

The SNAP becomes super agile, super quick, and just overall very snappy and very responsive in its Sport mode.  You can fly this outside in winds up to 15 KM/H maximum in my experience.  In this mode the yaw and pitch and roll become proportional to each other allowing you to achieve great banked turns because the yaw and pitch and roll are both quick, and therefore the turning radius becomes small and tight and not remotely as large as the turning radius is on the QUATTRO NEON.  The SNAP is just a really aggressive and truly sporty flyer in Sport mode.  The pitch and roll ability and the way and degree it tilts under Sport mode allow you to really do things that aren't possible on the NEON.  The delay from stopping while performing pitch and roll as I experienced on the NEON because of the big body, I don't experience this on the SNAP in Sport mode, its super agile and super responsive to any input so you have to be precise.  I think it makes you a better flyer overall though, despite the SNAP being overly sensitive in Sport mode.  I found flying the SNAP without the propeller guards is the best way to go, it flips better without them on, and they don't really help that much so I would say there's little point having them on.

The SNAP doesn't have better LED lights than what is on the QUATTRO NEON, however, they are still more than enough bright to fly in night time.  I like how they look underneath as there are see through LED lenses underneath the body. 

Here is a video recording screen grab I took of how high up in the sky I managed to take the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP before wind gusts took it away, thats why the photo is slanted it was being taken away by the winds.  Thankfully I managed to save it by crashing into a garage door.  Lasltly you can see four (4) RAW sample photos taken with the camera.

RC

RAW Photo Sample #1 - RAW Photo Sample #2 - RAW Photo Sample #3 - RAW Photo Sample #4  

Battery Test and Flight Times

Battery

  • Battery Rated Capacity: 380mAh
  • My USB Charger Doctor measured for the first original review unit I tested before it prematurely died: 301mAh being charged into the battery until full
  • My USB Charger Doctor measured for the second replacement SNAP 346mAh being charged into the battery until full
  • I experienced 5 minutes, 40 seconds flights (with first unit that prematurely died) until low voltage warning kicks in with flashing lights until 6 minutes, 11 seconds until when the Quadcopter was near the end with its throttle stick at highest position barely hanging on.  I did nothing except kept it in a even hover with the flight throttle stick mostly in the center position.
  • I experienced 7 minutes, 52 seconds flights (with new replacement SNAP) until low voltage warning kicks in with flashing lights until 8 minutes, 14 seconds until when the Quadcopter was near the end with its throttle stick at highest position barely hanging on.  I did nothing except kept it in a even hover with the flight throttle stick mostly in the center position.

Lithium Polymer

Where Can I Buy One?  And For How Much?

The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter is sold on Amazon, but the price is too high.

The good news is that you can still purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP through other retailers for a better price. 

Canadians can purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter at Toys R US Canada for $67.47 CAD

Americans can purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter at Fry's Electronics for $69.99 USD.

 

Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!

Conclusion

QUATTRO

Despite the first review sample of the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP prematurely dying on me within 10 flights, something I chalk up to being a manufacture slip-up, this second replacement has been fantastic and I'm nearing 25 flights with no odd signs to speak of.  Despite me not liking the SNAP as a camera Quadcopter, I can say it's a great flyer overall and I would mark this as a sporty flyer since it becomes so agile and zippy in its Sport mode.  I don't exactly like the chunky Xbox 360 looking flight controller, however, it's very much manageable and you won't have much issues with it.   So if you're on the market for a sporty Quadcopter that you can fly indoors and outdoors, you have to give this one a look.

Overall I can definitely recommend the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP!

Award