For the longest time, I have been looking for a drone that would allow me to quickly take video while I am out riding my bike. I bought a DJI Mavic Mini 2 years ago and took some really nice footage and photos. But the problem with that drone is that it takes at least 2 minutes to get it operational. That is fine when you are by yourself and have time, but not when many impatient riders are waiting for you.

Left Hover Air X1, right the DJI Mavic mini

This spring, an ad for a new exciting drone appeared in my Instagram feed. It's always interesting how that happens. It was an ad for the then-still called Hover X1, which directed me to an Indiegogo fundraiser project page. The project has been ongoing, and they just started shipping drones.

Hover Air X1 about to take off from my hand

The demo material showed a drone that did everything that I was looking. It supports take-off and landing from your hand, with no need for a controller, follow-mode, and a quick setup. It was pricey but had a 30% discount during its initial release phase. I ordered the Early Bird | Hover Combo x1 for $329 and gave Indiegogo a $11 tip, making the total price $340,-.

External charger, spare battery, USB-C cable, Drone and carrying bag

Besides the drone, the combo package included an external battery charger, a spare battery, and a storage bag.
I ordered the package on July 13th, which arrived on August 7th with FedEx.

The now closed IndieGoGo Hover X1 campaign

The package comes with minimal documentation, but at least on the device, only a few instructions are needed.

Hover Air X1 Manual

First lets discuss the size when folded up it is 3.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches.

Hover Air X1 folded up

When the wings are folded out it is 5.5 x 6 x 1 inch.

Hover Air X1 folded out, ready to fly

It has 2 buttons: an on-off button that also functions as a take-off button and a mode button to select the flight mode. By pressing the mode button you cycle through the 6 different modes.

Hover Air X1 controls and mode indicators.

The modes are:

  1. Hover; drone stays in place, tracks and videos you.
  2. Zoom-out; drone flies out and up, while pointing and videoing you. Note it does not track you.
  3. Follow; drone hovers and when you start moving starts to follow and video you.
  4. Orbit; drone flies in a circle around you, while keeping you in focus and recording a video.
  5. Birdseye; drone flies straight up, while keeping you in focus and recording a video.
  6. Custom mode; This mode can be preset on the phone. I use dolly track often, where the drone will fly backwards in front of you and records a video.
Hover Air X1 in Dolly mode (Animated gif, not reflecting the 2K video quality)

The minimal steps to operate the Hover Air X1 for a recording are:

1) Turn on the Hover Air X1.  A green light and a voice prompt will indicate when its ready. This takes about 10 seconds.

2) Unfold the two wings that protect the contained propellers.

3) The start prompt also indicates that the current mode is and you can also see the current mode marked with a white light on top of the Hover Air X1. You can change the mode with the mode button, by cycling thru the six modes.

4) Once you select the correct mode tap the power/start button and hold the Hover Air X1 in the palm of your hand with a stretched out arm. Within 5 seconds the drone will take off, start the video recording and execute the mode's function.

5) Landing the Hover Air X1 is a bit different between the various modes. With Hover mode the drone will you stay in place. With Zoom-out, Orbit and Bird's eye the drone will execute the flight path and then hover in place. And lastly with Follow and Dolly track mode the Hover Air X1 will track you until you stop and then hover a bit further away. To land it in your hand, hold you hand under the drone, and it will automatically land down in your hand and stop the propellers. With Follow and Dolly track you land it by holding out your hand palm up and after a short while it will fly to your hand where it will then land as with the other modes.

You can view/download the recordings using the free Hover Air X1 phone app. It starts a wifi connection, and you can see from the gallery previews and/or download the video/photos to your Phone photo/video library. It also allows you to delete the videos/photos on the Hover Air X1.
On the phone, you can also tweak the various settings of the different fly modes, like distance for the zoom-out, orbit, and Bird's eye. The rotation angle for orbit, ie, 360 degrees for a full circle or a subset of that.

The phone app also allows you to manually control the Hover Air X1. It gives a preview and controls to move the drone. The movements are up/down, forward/backward, pan left/right, rotate left/right, and the vertical gimbal orientation of the camera. You can also control the camera to take photos or video and the quality.

My experience so far has been that the Hover Air X1 allows me to create the videos I was looking for. I especially like the modes Hover, Follow, and Dolly for engaging video clips. I download these clips to my phone, edit them quickly, and then upload them to Strava from my phone.

My experience so far is:

  • It is so tiny that it fits in my bike bag, and I sometimes even put it in one of my cycling jersey back pockets.
The Hover Air X1 fits in your cycling jersey's back pocket
  • It does not support obstacle avoidance, and it occasionally hits a tree branch. Still, the propeller wings are protecting the propellers.
  • With follow/hover mode, it sometimes misses tracking you, and you have to land and start the drone again.
  • The drone dropped to the ground a few times. The reason for this was unclear.
  • The video quality (2k) is more than enough to post videos on youtube or my  sport social website Strava.
This youtube clip is filmed completely with the Hover Air X1 (downscaled to 1080p)

I once had the drone in Dolly mode for a more extended recording, and I was riding towards it. Still, without sound warning, the battery was empty, and I rode into it, and it fell on the ground. There may have been a visual warning, but I had not noticed it.

  • This is a selfie drone because it puts you smack in the middle of the action. It would be great if it focused on some of my co-riders occasionally.
  • A fragile cover part broke during one of the crashes. It is not structural and does not hamper operation; it just looks a little crooked. I had to superglue it.
Fragile Hover Air X1 section that broke
  • When the drone hovers, it is slightly at an angle, i.e., the left-wing seems somewhat higher than the right. This does not show on the video as that is level.
Hover Air X1 hovering at a slight angle.
  1. Battery life is 10-15 mins, enough to do at least 5 to 10 different mode recordings. Of course, hover, follow, and dolly track have no predetermined length.
  2. The internal (not expandable) storage of 32Gb (of which 24Gb is available for media storage) seems enough for the battery life of the two batteries. The advantage is that editing afterward is a breeze as you don't have to wade through hours of video.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this drone. It does as promised. It puts you in the center of the video without external controllers.

HOVERAir X1 - Pocket-Sized Self-Flying Camera
Portability and Simplicity Redefined Automatic and Intelligent Flight PathsShoot and Share with the APPRobust Tracking Algorithms & Ultra-Smooth Video
Hover Air X1 hovering with the red light indicating it is recording

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