The Yuneec Tornado H920 drone is marketed as a multi-rotor aerial photography and videography platform designed for professional use, and with a price tag to match! The three different models in the range (the CG04, GB603 and the V18 respectively) will set you back between £4,300 and £6,000 each, which is certainly not small change.
For a truly professional drone that simply does what you need it to do reliably and without a lot of problems, the right drone can be worth its weight in gold; but does the H920 live up to its promise, or are buyers left disappointed with its performance and quality where it counts? We’ve made it our mission to find out. Read on to find out more.
Yuneec Tornado H920 specifications
The Yuneec Tornado H920’s core USPs are purported to be its ability to take professional-quality photos and video with long flying times, easy setup and operation, and superior reliability. It also boasts the appropriate redundancies and safety features required for commercial use, as well as self-recovery stability and the ability to fly on five motors.
The personal ground station for the H920 has a 7” LCD touchscreen live streaming feed, and can take stills when used with the optional add-ons of gyro stabilised gimbals and cameras. Yuneec’s own engineering team claim an average flight time of 20 to 25 minutes, or up to 40 minutes when using the V18 zoom camera and batteries.
So, does the Yuneec Tornado H920 live up to expectations in the field, and are the professionals really relying on it in high-stakes situations? Let’s find out.
Taking a quick look at the reviews on Amazon.com, the H920 is credited with a fairly shabby 2.7 stars out of 5, with just one positive review and the rest falling firmly into the one and two star category.
The opinions of industry bloggers are somewhat mixed, although the majority of blogger comments negatively reference the quality versus the price point, comparing the H920 to drones towards the bottom of the price range and, in some cases, not positively!
The general build quality, as well as the ability to configure the unit in the field, keep coming up time and time again, as does the fact that the rotors are apt to intrude upon the captured footage, which is of course a major disadvantage for a drone that is marketed as a professional unit aimed at industry professionals.
Next, we’ll break down some of the core concerns and queries of users and buyers: the stability and quality of the unit, and whether or not it is actually a good fit for professional applications.
Verified buyer reviews on the BHP Photo Video site raise concerns about the unit’s safety. Once again achieving just 2.7 stars out of 5, the quality of the build really comes in for a beating from buyers here, with mentions made of manufacturer faults in the CG04 unit that necessitate repair or replacement right out of the box.
Even with a functional CG04 unit, the video lag leads to challenges in less than perfect filming conditions, as well as the unit’s propensity to lose its video feed entirely at heights of over 1,000 feet, with one of the most in-depth reviews ominously referring to their purchase as “an expensive mistake.”
Even the most positive comment from another reviewer talks of the unit having great potential; but unfortunately, not realising it in the field. A lack of necessary firmware updates and user support indicate that perhaps the design and construction of the H920 was somewhat rushed, sacrificing quality and usability; this comes as no surprise when you consider the fact that Yuneec only entered the drone market in 2014, and are likely still going through some teething troubles.
Overall when it comes to quality, the Yuneec Tornado H920 appears to show some promise, but is far from user-friendly and has several flaws that should have been resolved at the design and testing stage long before the unit was brought to the open market.
Stability is of course paramount when it comes to selecting the right drone for commercial and professional applications, but unfortunately, rumblings from industry professionals and end users tell of a distinct lack of both stability and reliability when in the air.
Even on the Yuneec Pilots forum, which is, by its nature, populated by Yuneec enthusiasts, the same issues and more are continually repeated.
Video wobble and a lack of a user manual for the ST24 radio are common complaints among buyers, as well as the safety in-flight; after all, a drone that is potentially unsafe and fails in the air is a nightmare for anyone, but this is never more highly loaded than when it comes to professional applications.
The H920 range as a whole is not good for emergency services support, where reliability and safety are often literally life or death challenges.
Compared to other similarly-specced drones, such as the DJI Inspire 1 – the drone of choice for the emergency services in many areas – the H920 appears overpriced, lumbering and wobbly, not exactly positive selling points in what is already a competitive and fast-moving industry!
Aerialtronics Altura Zenith too is far superior in terms of its in-flight stability and ability to produce clear video feed without lag or lack of stability, even at heights – all accompanied by a field-beating 45 minutes flight time, and matchless stability in winds of up to 14m/s.
Overall, while the Yuneec Tornado H920 Drone can be said to have a lot of potential, teething troubles, a lack of stability and the complicated nature of the unit’s set-up and usage in the field (despite Yuneec’s claims to the contrary) really sabotage what could potentially have been a great drone.
Wise buyers and those seeking to purchase a drone for professional or emergency services use would be well advised to stick to the tried and tested ranges by DJI, Aerialtronics, or another equally well regarded range instead.