JJRC H38WH Combo X (In-Depth Review)
The JJRC H38WH Combo X is the latest JJRC toy drone with a modular design. It has four motor arms that can be detached and costs less than $100. Another key selling point is its 2MP FPV camera that has a field of view (FOV) of 120 degrees.
This is quite a good FOV for a toy drone considering that most other toy drones in this price range tend to feature FOVs with narrow angles — making flying FPV a bit tricky since the viewing angle from the camera is limited. 120 degrees may not be the widest, considering that some 5.8G FPV cameras have angles of 150 degrees but a 120 degree FOV certainly helps a lot if you intend to fly purely on FPV and not by line of sight. This is particularly true if you’re flying in tight spaces.
- Dimensions: 310 x 310 x 100mm (without prop guards)
- Platform: Quadcopter
- Diagonal motor distance: 250mm
- Flight features:
- Altitude hold
- Headless mode
- 3D flips
- 3 flight speeds (High, Medium and Low)
- Propulsion: brushed motors / 135mm propellers
- Weight: 173g (with battery/without prop guards)
- Camera resolution: 1MP stills (1280 x 720) and HD 720P video @ 25fps
- File format: BMP/AVI
- Battery: 7.4V 500mAh Li Po
- Charging time: 120 minutes
- Flight time: about 8-10 minutes
- Control distance: about 50 to 100 meters
- Transmitter power: 4 AAA batteries (not included)
My initial impression of the H38WH when I first received it for review was that the overall build quality is very good for a toy drone below $100. This seems to be the trend these days with toy drones. They’ve improved a lot since two years ago and the H38WH is a prime example of this progress.
The H38WH is shipped with all four arms detached. All you need to do is just attach the arms to the body and then attach the landing legs and prop guards (if you wish to fly with prop guards). All these parts can be attached without using tools. This is nice considering that just over a year ago, toy drones still came with landing legs that required tiny screws to install.
Even the supplied phone holder can be installed on the transmitter (remote controller) without using tools. The only parts that require a tool for installation are the propellers which are fastened using small screws.
Overall, the H38WH has a very nice appearance once fully assembled. I like the way it looks and all the small details on its body look great. The H38WH has four LED lights under each motor arm and one red LED light at the rear which helps you in orientation. The motor arms do not show any signs of flimsiness and they are attached very securely. In fact, I had to use considerable force when attaching each arm and all four click firmly in place. Each arm can be released by pressing two latches.
Some may wonder what’s the point of having removable motor arms. Besides making long term storage easy, detachable motor arms are a lot cheaper to replace if they get damaged. If you crash the H38WH and damage one of the arms, you don’t have to replace the entire body. Instead, you replace only the damaged arm. Detachable motor arms also make replacing damaged or worn out motors easier.
Brushed motors are generally less durable than their brushless counterparts so they tend to wear out much faster. In other toy drones, replacing a motor usually means opening up the body, removing the old motor before soldering the new one in place. With the H38WH, there is no need for any complicated soldering. Just buy a new arm, plug it in and you’re back in business.
The H38WH comes with a 7.4V 500mAh LiPo battery with JST connector. This is a generic LiPo battery that can be commonly found in many online RC stores and retail shops. Having a generic battery has its pros and cons. On the negative side, it is a bit of a hassle to manually connect the battery and it is certainly not as simple as just sliding it in until it clicks. But I’m sure many will find this a very small flaw.
The good thing about using a generic battery is that these batteries can be easily sourced. Slide-in batteries with proprietary designs such as the one used in the Syma X5UW can sometimes be a bit hard to find as not all sellers keep them in stock.
There is a lot to like about the H38WH’s flight performance. It is very stable in the air and altitude hold is very well implemented. Everything seems dialed in properly and I believe the H38WH will appeal to both beginners and experienced fliers looking for a trainer drone. The H38WH is somewhat loud and it has a rather dramatic buzz when flying, particularly when you punch the throttle. It is certainly a lot louder than the Syma X5UW and this could be good or bad, depending on your personal preference.
The H38WH has 3 flight speeds — low, medium and high. It also has headless mode, auto return home, 3D flips and auto landing. 3D flips is where it falters. Due to altitude hold, the H38WH is one of those toy drones that tends to plunge after every flip. The plunge isn’t that bad but it certainly does plunge a little and you need to make sure to provide it with enough airspace and altitude when performing flips.
Other than plunging flips, there is nothing much that’s bad about the H38WH’s flight performance. It feels very eager when you push it hard and this is certainly very entertaining. After each flight, I feel like flying it even more. One key reason why it flies so well is the 2S battery. Toy drones of this size such as the Syma X5UW and GoolRC T32 typically come with 1S batteries but the H38WH was designed for 2S batteries which provides double the voltage.
Besides the excellent flight performance, another plus point of the H38WH is its 2MP WiFi FPV camera which features a 120 degree wide angle field of view (FOV). It’s good to see toy drones starting to feature wide angle FPV cameras. This makes flying toy drones such as the H38WH a lot more fun.
When I first tested the FPV feed of the H38WH, I was very pleased to find that the view from the wide angle lens closely resembles what I’d find on more expensive brushless FPV racers. With this wide angle lens, it is possible to fly the H38WH entirely on FPV alone but this should only be done in open wide spaces.
Due to the high latency of WiFi FPV compared to 5.8G FPV systems, it is quite risky if you intend to fly the H38WH in tight spaces such as in between trees or through a narrow corridor.
Below is a gallery of unedited sample images.
To view the FPV feed, simply install the JJRC app on your smartphone, connect to the drone’s WiFi hotspot and turn the app on. The JJRC app can also be used to pilot the H38WH and control its many features. In fact, you can even pilot the drone using the app’s transmitter emulator although this is not a good substitute to using the conventional transmitter due to the lack of stick feedback.
One thing I notice about the camera is that it is pointing slightly downwards. This is good if you’re using the H38WH for taking aerial photos and videos. However, if you like flying fast and low just for the thrills, the camera angle can be a problem since you’re mostly going to see the ground instead of what’s coming ahead. This is a bit disappointing because the H38WH is capable of some very aggressive sport flying with its 2S battery. It would have been great if JJRC gave the camera an adjustable tilt.
The JJRC H38WH is a very well-rounded sub-$100 toy drone with a modular design that makes changing damaged motors (and arms) easy. Overall, it is just about as good as other popular models such as the Syma X5UW and GoolRC T32. In some areas such as speed and propulsion, it is actually better. Whether you pick it over other options is a matter of personal taste.
The H38WH has good looks, decent quality and flies very well. The only issues I can find are its plunging 3D flips and generic battery (which may not be an issue for some). It also has a tool-less approach in its design so you don’t have to use any tool to attach or remove parts such as the landing legs and motor arms. And last but not least, the WiFi FPV camera has a wide angle view (still an uncommon feature on toy drones) which is great for FPV flying.
The JJRC H38WH can be purchased at GearBest (which supplied the sample featured in this review) for just $58.99 shipped. Click here for more details.