To bring a little variety to Gadgetoid I’ve decided to start adding coverage of low-end gadgets including toys and all manner of things that you’re likely to find at stores like Firebox. Variety, they say, is the spice of life; so take a break from drooling over things you’re never going to buy and start getting those Christmas gift ideas flowing!
To mark the start of this new coverage I’ll be looking at the Salvation 9 Radio Controlled Helicopter. It’s a small indoor toy with an nominal price and is a lot of fun to fly. It’s also markedly better than the smaller Picoz, affording proper degrees of control and radio control rather than infra-red, without being that much more expensive.
My experience with the Salvation 9 has been a fun one, and an educational one. In short; I suck at flying the thing. It requires an immense level of subtlety when controlled; “subtlety” isn’t a word that applies to me.
Fortunately and contrary to the suggestions of its flimsy and diminutive appearance the Salvation 9 Helicopter is tough. Well, perhaps not tough, but well built and flexible. I’ve managed to fly the Salvation 9 into everything from brick walls, to tables and the ceiling. And whilst some of the more violent and noisy encounters with metal objects have left the rotors a little worn nothing has actually broken. Most of the major components of the helicopter are replaceable with separately purchased spare parts so if you do manage to break the Salvation 9 you don’t have to replace the entire thing.
I find that I am able to achieve some lucid flight time with the Salvation 9 when the batteries are starting to get low and slightly less subtlety is required. It takes a little time and a lot of skill to get the helicopter under control when taking off; the bigger the space you attempt to fly it in the much more fun and luck you will have.
Flying outdoors is possible but a little tricky; I was able to gain quite a bit of height when flying in my front garden but ended up sending the chopper hurtling into bushes and Neighbors’ gardens repeatedly.
And that’s what makes the Salvation 9 so fun and addictive. If it were easy as pie to fly from the get go all you would achieve is 8 minutes of uneventful hovering ’round your living room and then it would be consigned its box for eternity. With flying so difficult you are given the opportunity to try and try again until you’ve reached a level of skill that lets you bamboozle friends and relatives by deftly whizzing the chopper around obstacles when all they can do is whizz it into them.
I found a couple of minor irritations with the Salvation 9 in my attempts to fly it. The most irritating, and probably the result of my complete refusal to properly read the manual, is that it tends to spin clockwise constantly even when I’ve adjusted the controller trim as far as it will go. Now holding the right stick in the correct place to cancel out the helicopter spin whilst simultaneously trying to fly somewhere is a challenge and a half, but not one I backed down from.
The second irritation is the sheer number of AA batteries that the controller takes. 8. Eight! I raided every Xbox 360 controller, remote and Wiimote in sight gathering up semi charged batteries in a desperate bid to get it powered up, and eventually had to resort to putting a big batch on charge and waiting a few hours for them to finish. I would prefer the remote contained its own rechargeable 12 volt battery pack but that’s a lot to ask for at a Â£40 price tag… so all is forgiven. Make sure to pick up a bumper back of AAs if you plan on giving this as a gift. There’s nothing worse than a Christmas battery scramble!
Recharging the helicopter itself is a simple affair, although I had to deal with the american plug version and thus needed an adaptor. After the first few charges that last a couple of hours you should have the chopper charging up in less than an hour and giving almost 10 minutes of flight time which isn’t bad in the world of low cost electric R/C helicopters. This means you get a good half hour between flights to work on your theory, mentally prepare, or just dive back onto a games console.
You can’t go wrong with the Salvation 9 as a Christmas gift to get us blokes away from the Xbox 360 for a while. Any male from 5 to 50 who says they don’t want one of these is lying. Buy him a pink Picoz as punishment and get yourself a Salvation 9 to really rub it in! (Disclaimer: I do not endorse domestic psychological violence)