JXD 509W (In-Depth Review)
At first glance, the Jin Xing Da (JXD) 509W looks like a knock-off mini toy version of the Yuneec Q500. But once you start flying it, you’ll discover that beneath the gimmicky appearance is one fantastic toy quadcopter that will impress even seasoned enthusiasts.
Priced at about $80, the 509W clearly wasn’t designed to compete with professional aerial photography drones such as the Q500 or the Phantom 3 which can cost well over $1,000. The 509W is actually an advanced toy-grade quadcopter (for its price range) that can take some very impressive videos thanks to its highly stable flight performance.
The JXD 509W, which features wifi control and video transmission, also comes in two other variants — the 509G with 5.8GHz FPV and the 509V which is the basic and most affordable version that has a camera but does not feature any kind of FPV.
- Dimensions: 300 x 300 x 96mm
- Diagonal motor distance: 227mm
- Motor size: 9mm
- Weight: 140g (with battery and camera)
- Flight time: 5 to 8 minutes
- Battery: 3.7V 600mAh 30C Li Po
- Charging time: 60 – 90 minutes
- Control distance: approximately 50m
- Transmitter power: 4 x 1.5V AA batteries (not included)
Altitude hold used to be a feature found only on more advanced drones such as the Phantom 3 but has started trickling down recently into the sub-$100 toy drone segment. This is certainly good news for anyone shopping for toy quadcopters today.
Altitude hold makes flying a drone so much more easy and this feature is very well implemented in the 509W. To keep its altitude consistent, a barometer in the drone is used to keep track on air pressure. The 509W attempts to keep this air pressure reading consistent by adjusting its propulsion accordingly to compensate for altitude gains or loss.
On the pilot’s side, keeping the 509W hovering steadily in the air at a set altitude is very simple — just let go of the throttle stick at 50% and the barometer will work its magic, helping the 509W keep its altitude within an envelope of about 1 to 2 feet. To make things easier for the pilot, the throttle stick has been configured to be self-centering at 50% which is the level needed to hover the 509W. Moving the 509W up or down is as simple as increasing throttle power or reducing it.
Although the 509W isn’t the first toy quadcopter to feature a barometer (the XK X260-B we tested about 2 months ago also has one), it is certainly the only toy quadcopter we’ve tested so far that actually features altitude hold. Interestingly, the X260 does not feature altitude hold despite having a barometer. We’re guessing that the barometer is used in the X260 merely to assist in its flight performance.
Complementing its altitude hold feature is the 509W’s excellent flight performance. The 509W is amazingly stable in the air and responds very well to pilot input. This stable flight performance is characteristic of the latest generation of toy quadcopters of which the 509W belongs to.
3 speed modes are available — low, medium and high. Low speed mode is best used when you’re trying to take videos or photos and is also the best mode to use if you need the 509W to fly around at slow and steady speeds. High speed mode releases the 509W’s full potential where speed is concerned and flying angles become very aggressive to accompany the sporty flying performance.
Like other toy quadcopters in the same price segment, the 509W also comes with “headless” mode and “0ne-key return”. Headless mode is a feature which allows you to fly your drone without worrying where its front is facing. When headless mode is turned on, the drone will fly in any direction you order it relative to your transmitter’s position, irrespective of where its front or “head” is facing. So if your drone has its front facing right at you, it will move to the left if you push your right control stick to the left. Take note that the drone’s “front” direction is determined when “headless” mode is triggered and will remain the same until you turn headless mode off.
“One-key return” is a feature that allows the drone to “fly” back to its launching site. Since the 509W is not a GPS-enabled drone, this feature doesn’t really cause the drone to fly back to the exact spot where it was launched. Instead, the 509W will simply fly back in the direction it was launched from. For example, if the 509W was facing north when it was launched, it will merely fly southwards when this feature is triggered.
This feature was designed specifically to be used when a pilot has lost orientation of a drone and hopes to get it flying back to where it was launched. The feature isn’t exactly perfect as the drone will just continue flying “back” but may come in handy if a pilot is too disoriented to figure out how to prevent the drone from flying away.
The 509W can also perform 360 degree flips although this isn’t exactly its forte. The 509W has a rather peculiar way of flipping — it will rise some 1 or 2 feet into the air before performing the flip so if you’re thinking of doing some aerial acrobats with the 509W, make sure it has enough headroom to do so.
The 509W also feels cumbersome during flips and can sometimes struggle to recover from them, especially when battery power is low.
Equipped with a 3.7V 600mAh Li Po battery, the 509W has a flight time of about 5 to 8 minutes which is average for its size.
The most impressive feature of the 509W is its ability to take reasonably stable aerial videos. Being a sub-$100 toy quadcopter, the 509W’s video performance isn’t exactly in the same league as more expensive aerial photography drones such as the Phantom 3 but within that price range it is probably one of the best, if not the best.
This is largely due to its highly stable flying performance assisted by its superb altitude hold feature. Under highly ideal conditions where there is little to no wind at all, aerial videos taken with the 509W is simply a class above all other toy quadcopters we’ve tested to date.
The only beef I have with its camera is the narrow field-of-view (FOV). Although this narrow FOV is a great way to reduce distortion, the FOV on the 509W’s camera is a bit too narrow for my liking. Also, a camera that has a wider FOV can take in more of the scenery below and also help reduce the effects of camera shake since the 509W does not feature any kind of gimbal stabilizer.
The 509W’s camera features WiFi FPV which can be accessed via the Exploration UFO app on your smartphone. Videos and photos from the camera are also stored on your smartphone or tablet via the app. The 509W’s camera does not allow you to record files onto a micro SD card in the camera itself.
As with any other WiFi equipped toy quadcopter, FPV on the 509W suffers from high latency which gets worse as the drone flies further away from your smart device. For the best FPV experience, I recommend getting the 509G which features 5.8GHz FPV. The 509G does not suffer from the high latency problem that affects all WiFi camera drones.
The Exploration UFO app also allows you to control the 509W via onscreen controls that mimic the conventional transmitter via a WiFi connection to the drone. Although this may sound like a cool idea, it is not exactly the best way to fly the 509W since WiFi latency can adversely affect your handling of the drone, resulting in unpredictable flight behavior which may result in crashes.
Despite its few shortcomings, the 509W is arguably one of the best toy quadcopters currently available on the market. The JXD brand itself is relatively new in the world of multirotors but that doesn’t stop the 509W from impressing me with its fantastic flying performance and stability in the air.
The 509W is also one of the few toy quadcopters available today that features altitude hold — a feature that was once only available in more expensive hobby-grade drones. Altitude hold is a key reason why the 509W is so much fun to fly and sets it apart from the competition.
If there is one thing I would like to see improved in the 509W is the ability to record videos and photos onto a memory card in the camera itself instead of on a smartphone or tablet. The current method of recording simply captures all the imperfections in the WiFi FPV system which includes latency lags that can make videos appear like slideshows. It also fails to impress when it comes to aerial acrobatics.
However, in a market dominated by brands such as Syma, the JXD 509W stands out as one of those hidden gems that have plenty to reward those who take the effort to dig deep enough. This is one model that would make it into my top five most recommended toy quadcopters for this year.
Features and Performance7/10
- Altitude Hold
- Exceptionally stable flight and videos
- Can take a lot of abuse
- FPV suffers from WiFi latency lag
- Video and images not stored in camera memory card
- Exploration UFO app does a poor job in controlling drone
- Not the best in aerial acrobatics