Review: Potensic D58 drone with 1080p camera
A low-cost drone that is packed with accessories.
While DJI might have the top end of the consumer drone market sewn up, not everyone is willing (or able) to pay their premium prices. That leaves a huge space in the market for other drone manufacturers to swoop in and carve out their own market share, and one of the better-known names in that space is Potensic.
They’ve made a name for themselves with low-cost, beginner-friendly drones that provide all the flying fun you crave, but at a significantly lower price point than the giants of the industry.
Today we’re going to be looking at one of their latest drones, the $180 D58, which comes in a kit with an aluminum carry case and two batteries, along with some spare parts in case you break something.
So, what’s it all about?
The Potensic D58 is a fixed-wing quadcopter, in the style popularized by the DJI Phantom range. Normally, you’d have to find a suitable packing case and get foam cut for carrying such a drone, but Potensic has done the hard work for you and included a foam-filled aluminum box, that also protects the drone on the way from wherever you bought it. It’s a nice touch, adding carrying capacity in a stylish case, and one I wouldn’t expect to see at this price point.
It’s not a big drone by any means, weighing in at 230g. That’s important, as it means it’s lighter than the weight you will have to register your drone with the authorities if you live in the USA, Canada, or the UK. Please do check the rules for your country before flying your new drone, as any responsible drone owner should.
The motors powering it aren’t brushless, unfortunately, which would have been nice to see as they’re more efficient and powerful. Still, that helps Potensic keep the price of the D58 down so it’s a decent trade-off. The brushed motors are still powerful, so you’ll be fine until you decide to upgrade down the line. The LiPo batteries are 7.4V, 1000 mAh, which are rated to 18 minutes of flight time each. Expect a few minutes less than that, as batteries never live up to their full rating. Recharge time is slow, taking several hours, and the included charging cable only charges one battery at a time.
Each motor has a huge colored LED light underneath, which helps with orientation if flying during twilight hours, and shows when the drone compass has completed calibration before flying.
Now, after flying ability, the most important part of any drone nowadays is the camera. The 1080p camera on the Potensic D58 is dampened slightly with rubber, which will help stabilize images from it, but if you expect DJI gimbal levels you’ll be disappointed. You can put a micro SDcard into the camera to record onto that if you don’t want to fill up your smartphone, otherwise, the Potensic app will use your smartphone’s internal memory.
Unlike more expensive drones, you get a controller in the box, which takes 4 AA batteries (not included). If you’ve used any controller from any other drone maker, you’ll be right at home here, with two joysticks, buttons for video and photo capture, and a button to switch the camera from forward and looking down orientations.
So, is it any good?
Drones in this price bracket don’t get nice things like ground sensors that keep them more stable in hover. That means the D58 needs a manual compass calibration before every flight. If you’ve ever been asked by Google Maps to do swooping motions with your phone, you know what I’m talking about here. The thing is, the calibration is only as good as you make it. I’ve been flying for weeks now and the drone still tends to drift when hovering, to the point that I won’t hover it near me as it can be quite nippy when it does drift.
That said, every drone I’ve flown with the exception of DJI models has some level of drift, and it’s easily remedied by moving the stick in the opposite direction slightly. With practice, this becomes second nature and will make you a better pilot for when you decide to upgrade.
Okay, before I talk about the quality of the camera and its images, just remember the price of this drone. You’re not going to get gimbal-stabilized images with optical image stabilization, as mentioned above. That’s fine since you’d be paying at least $200 more for that. The rubber dampener system is functional enough and fits the overall level this drone is for. It’s good enough for FPS flight, and you can get some okay images but don’t expect to get the quality of a photo-focused drone.
So, should I buy one?
At $180, the Potensic D58 is a decent entry into the world of drone ownership. It gives you enough functionality and ease-of-flight to help you figure out if flight is for you, without having to deal with things like registering it with the FAA before starting. The camera won’t win any awards, but it’s decent enough for the price and is clear enough to fly by. Other drone makers could learn something from the number of accessories that Potensic includes here, with a controller, spare parts, and that great carrying case.
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Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more. A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.