In The Box
- Helo TC
- Flight Control Deck
- Extra blades
- Charging Cable
The design of the Helo TC is nothing short of really mechanized. The front face is a nice, warming matte black plastic that isn’t flashy. The plastic is also molded into the shape of, well, a helicopter. The plastic has a glossy black, solid lens on it as well. The rest of the body is composed of aluminum pipes. Coming out of the top of the helicopter are four black, plastic blades with silver accents on them. The tail fin of the helicopter is also plastic with the Griffin logo boldly shown in orange.
The Helo TC also has many lights on it that flash multiple colors. This allows you to see the helicopter from a distance or even at night. Please do note that I do not recommend flying at night; even with the lights, it’s still difficult to do.
The shape of the remote resembles that of a controller. It’s composed of matte black plastic and runs on 4 AAA batteries. There is grey rubber on the upper pad to help your device stick to it so it doesn’t slip off. There are two black rubberized clamps to ensure this as well. The remote has a headphone jack sticking out of it as this is the way the remote communicates with the helicopter.
Overall, the design of everything is pleasing and the controller feels really nice in your hands. These are all benificial; I really wouldn’t change much about the design. One gripe I do have though is that it really wasn’t designed for the iPad. Although it supports the iPad, I would imagine (I don’t own an iPad) it would be really awkward to use with an iPad.
The Helo TC runs on an app for iOS devices. The app is universal and actually really decent for a controller. The main interface of the app is for piloting the helicopter, the interface is really well laid out and easy to comprehend. The app’s controls include:
- Moving the helicopter: You have two options to do this, you can either use the joy stick by touch controls, or you can control the Helo TC by using motion controls. I did find the motion controls to be very awkward and confusing to use. The helicopter just didn’t go in the direction I had it go.
- Altitude and speed: This is controlled using the slider on either the right or left side of the screen depending on the option it’s set to.
- Flight Plans: This allows the pilot to create automated flight patterns for the Helo TC. When you select it, you will input controls for the helicopter to follow. You can have up to 3 flight plans saved to your device. Although, this is nice, I have yet to see a way to delete pre-existing flight plans.
- Lights: This allows you to toggle the lights on and off I assume. It doesn’t work for me, nor does the button do anything.
- Trim: This allows the pilot to correct the rotation the Helo TC can do on its own.
Now, the controls are straight forward, but can use some overall upgrades. I found it very hard to control the helicopter in general. There was just a lot of problems piloting the helicopter where it really wasn’t fun anymore, instead, it became more of a hassle.
Another thing I do want to point out is how the Helo TC remote communicates with the Helicopter. It’s a really simple mechanism actually; it uses a tiny internal speaker in the remote to create beeps. The Helo TC understands these beeps and functions through them.
The beeps are not loud at all; you literally have to plaster the back of the remote to the side of your ear in order to faintly hear them. I did run into problems because of this though, when you first turn on the helicopter, it takes a while for the Helo TC to hear the remote; I tested on all three channels. I also ran into a second problem when the helicopter got stuck on my roof while I first learned how to use it. I couldn’t get it back down with the remote. I had to use a ladder to retrieve my remote controlled helicopter. This is irony at its finest.
In the settings, you’ll see various tweaks you can do. You can switch from motion control mode to joy-stick mode, or vice versa. Other settings allow you to reverse the axis of tilt. The final option is to change channels. This allows any user to fly up to three Helo TCs at once; only if you’re amazing enough of a pilot to do that though.
I did see one feature I would have loved to see, that would be putting a camera on the helicopter that videotaped your trips. This would make the Helo TC that much cooler. Even without it, the helicopter is feature packed. However, not all the features worked 100% for me. Just about every feature the Helo TC comes with can use some tweaking. It’s a huge attempt at creating a feature packed remote controlled vehicle, but definitely needs a lot of work.
The build quality is where the Helo TC shines its best. The build is really respectable. The plastic on the Helo TC is really strong and light. The metal framework construction is build like a tank. The blades on that the helicopter comes with are extremely rugged and tough as nails. I’ll admit that I have crashed the Helo TC more than enough, not on purpose of course, and I have not had one blade snap on me. Even if any do, it is packaged with a spare set of blades for you to use, so you don’t need to fret if you are a bad pilot like me.
Griffin supplied spare blades just in case any pilots snapped theirs.
The remote, like the actual helicopter is build well too. The rugged rubber will take impact and protect the iDevice that is in it while it is in use. The plastic construction is top notch and I really have no complaints here. Even the headphone jack is angled. I really couldn’t complain with the build of the remote, or the Helo TC as it is constructed extremely well; something I’d expect a case company like Griffin to do.
Pricing this fun little show-off toy isn’t too hard. The Griffin Helo TC MSRPs at 50 dollars. For this price, I’d rather get a good case, a pair of headphones, or both. I’m not saying this isn’t worth its money, entirely. It does have solid build quality and an attractive design. However, it can use some improvements in its control mechanism and features. Overall, this should be able to be a fun gift for a child, but nothing to use on a daily basis.
The Helo TC joins the list of crazy accessories for iDevices. In this list are, but not limited to: camera kits, GPS docks, GSM phone adapters, radiation detectors (made for use in Japan) and now, remote control helicopters. This is one of those crazy, I-gotta-have-it toys that are mainly bought to be shown off. In all practical cases, it may not be of much use. My only argument is this: it’s a helicopter, for the iPhone! What’s not cool about that?!
I’d like to thank Madison for the product sample.