Holy Stone HS170 Review: Under $30, But Still Somehow Disappointing

Last updated December 10th, 2019
Holy Stone HS170 review

With an ever-growing drone catalog in the market today, you aren’t required to get the latest and greatest of them all just to have fun or learn new things.

These modern birds have been teeming in features in the last five years or so, due to the competition present in the arena.

This piece of advice can come in handy for beginners, who often spend way too much time deliberating on what to look for, what to avoid, and ultimately, what to get.

A handful of entry-level drones have been making waves in online forums and venues that have caused a surge in their sales numbers, with the Holy Stone HS170, also known as the “Predator Mini Drone” being one of them.

Read on and find out what this extremely affordable product has to offer in this comprehensive Holy Stone HS170 review.

Quick Specs

WeightUnloaded: 31.3 grams
SizeLength: 120 mm
Width: 120 mm
Height: 34 mm
SpeedThree-speed setting
SignalRange: ~50 meters
Operational Frequency: 2.4 GHz
BatteryFlight time: ~6 mins
Capacity: 350 mAh
RecordingCamera: N/A
Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini
6,196 Reviews
Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini
  • Headless security system enables players of any level to fly the drone easily
  • 2. 4GHz technology adopted for anti-interference
  • More stable and flexible with 6-axis gyro stabilization system
  • Good PERFORMANCE of wind-resistant control range: About 30-50 meters
  • Flight time: about 6-8 minutes Charging time: about 45-60 minutes (under currents input 0....

Holy Stone HS170 Features

Headless Mode

Since the Holy Stone HS170 carries the bare minimum in terms of features, a Headless Mode function is handy to have, and we’re glad Holy Stone managed to incorporate it in the drone.

Basically, the Holy Stone HS170 ignores its front-end orientation in Headless mode by repositioning the pilot’s front as the drone’s front, making it respond to your controller inputs in a straightforward manner.

This is definitely a welcome sight for beginners, as it takes away the awkwardness brought by the normal flight mode’s 3D planes of motion. However, the annoying beeping sound made by the remote controller when the drone is in Headless Mode sounds like a lorry backing up. A workaround for this is by pulling the right joystick all the way down, then back up to the top left corner, which should stop the beeping immediately.

3D Flips

On the other side of the spectrum, Holy Stone loaded the Holy Stone HS170 with a party trick: 3D Flips. When this mode is active, the drone can flip at any direction you orient the control lever towards, making it an easy affair to execute, giving you essentially a one-trick pony (or bird) at your fingertips.

Be reminded to keep the drone at a safe distance, by giving it some leeway of about 2 meters to execute the tricks to ensure the safety of yourself and onlookers.

One Key Return

Fortunately, the Holy Stone HS170 has a One Key Return function that allows you to recall the drone in case of low battery levels or retrieval purposes. However, this works a bit differently from return functions we’ve been used to seeing.

Unlike GPS-assisted or transmitter signal-based return features, the Holy Stone HS170 locks its own position based on the location you paired the remote and the drone on. This means the drone doesn’t follow the transmitter’s signal and instead relies on the last known pairing location to do so.

Confused yet? So are we. And here’s where things get even more complicated.

You need to be directly in front of the drone’s front end to properly make use of the mode. Weird.

Battery Life

While the Holy Stone HS170 carries a mean-sounding alias, it’s anemic 350 mAh battery brings you about 6 minutes of flight time.

The battery can be charged via the hanging wire with a plug that can accommodate a USB charging cable, which can last up to 30 minutes per battery pack. We suggest you secure additional battery packs for a longer flight session with the Holy Stone HS170.

Camera

The Holy Stone HS170’s dirt-cheap price should be a telltale sign that it doesn’t (or could not possibly) fit an optics unit with it. The short flight time and limited range also don’t bode well for photography or First Person View purposes.

Ease Of Use

The Holy Stone HS170 has a cumbersome controller for a drone of its size. It also doesn’t feature a rechargeability function, relying on 6 AA batteries to power it up. It carries the typical dual joystick layout and is densely populated with function buttons and trim controls. What’s frustrating was that Holy Stone didn’t label these function buttons properly.

Design and Build Quality

Though a drone of small stature, the Holy Stone HS170 is made rugged due to its quality polycarbonate material construction, which protects it from crashes and collisions (which are more than likely to happen). Aesthetics and aerodynamics go hand in hand with its small footprint and smooth contours, reducing drag while exuding that sporty vibe even when stationary.

The Holy Stone HS170 has extra safety implements such as propeller guards and shock-absorbent landing gear to protect the main structure of the craft. One thing to note, however, is the landing gear’s elastic quality that may cause the drone to bounce off the landing surface of you let it drop too early, causing it to tumble away and potentially causing damage. Ensure the drone has touched down safely before going hands-free.

Performance

The Holy Stone HS170 is pretty responsive for a drone this cheap, taking your control inputs to life in real-time accuracy, though be warned that signal quality might degrade as you go near the 50-meter range limit, or are flying in an interference congested zone.

What the Holy Stone HS170 lacks in terms of positional stability is made up for by the impressive 6-axis gyroscopic system, doubling the instantaneous orientation reflex it has to maintain a stable flight performance.

The Holy Stone HS170 also has three speed modes, which also affects the pitch (dive-climb) and yaw (side-side) sensitivity of the craft. By default, it goes with the first level which limits the speed and the aforementioned control factors of the craft. The higher settings allow you to maneuver the drone with more freedom, making it a better choice for those with more flying hours under their belt.

Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini
6,196 Reviews
Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini
  • Headless security system enables players of any level to fly the drone easily
  • 2. 4GHz technology adopted for anti-interference
  • More stable and flexible with 6-axis gyro stabilization system
  • Good PERFORMANCE of wind-resistant control range: About 30-50 meters
  • Flight time: about 6-8 minutes Charging time: about 45-60 minutes (under currents input 0....

Final Thoughts

The Holy Stone HS170 is one of the brand’s most affordable offerings, sitting at the entry-level bracket with its dirt-cheap price. But apart from price, what does this mini-sized bird have to offer? Not much, apparently. Apart from the functional Headless mode, Holy Stone has packed the drone with pretty much garbage features, which are virtually mismatched with all other aspects of the design.

Its affordability is both the bane and boon of the Holy Stone HS170. This is why it’s hard for us to recommend options from the lowest end of the spectrum, as scouring for something usable and actually delivers commendable performance is like finding a needle in a haystack.

But we might have been looking at this whole circumstance the wrong way. Since the Holy Stone HS170 is stripped and devoid of vital beginner-friendly features, it might’ve been intended for enthusiasts willing to go a bit experimental or are interested in taking on a side project just for fun.

Indeed, with a price next to nothing, the Holy Stone HS170 is an expendable unit that can be toyed with, modified, or just be the receiving end for a whole new world of hurt for the madman pilot.

TLDR; Newbies should definitely stay away from it, but the Holy Stone HS170 could be a treasure trove full of wonders for those who think outside the box.

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