PROS / The helicopter's four-channel radio transmitter lets you strafe side to side.
CONS / Its crossbar stabilizer isn't as advanced as an internal gyroscope, so you can't expect to perform loops or advanced tricks.
VERDICT / Though it's not quite as advanced as its pricier competition, the Hero iRocket delivers spectacular agility in a lightweight, good-looking frame.
Finding the right balance between maneuverability and ease of flight can be difficult in even the best remote control helicopters, but Hero's iRocket strikes a good balance. Where most low-cost RC copters have co-axial rotors – great for stability, but terrible for control – the iRocket's single tilting rotor is highly maneuverable. You can move the iRocket laterally, strafing from side to side without changing its orientation. The gyroscope, meanwhile, helps keep the machine upright, staving off crashes when you're still starting out.
The best RC helicopters feature internal, electronic gyroscopes, but the Hero iRocket doesn't have one. It instead uses a crossbar, which is a common stabilizer that's mounted above the rotor blades, spinning along with them to provide balance in the face of sharp turns and deft maneuvers. The crossbar keeps the iRocket from flipping and crashing when you're darting around your home, but it also negates the possibility of loops or other extreme tricks.
That said, the iRocket has a secondary flight mode that essentially doubles its speed, turning graceful turns into flitting snaps around the room. You might not be able to flip the aircraft, but you can pull some jolting leaps from point to point.
The Hero iRocket is, for its size, the lightest RC helicopter we reviewed. While a couple micro-size quadcopters are lighter, they're small enough to perch on a finger or two; the iRocket's 10-inch girth needs your whole hand. Thanks to its carbon frame, however, it's incredibly light and resilient to impacts, able to spring back from high-speed crashes without noticeable hull damage. Since the copter's rotors are fixed instead of swing-wing, they can snap off in the event of a crash, but they're easy to remount and cheap to replace should the need arise.
We had a blast flying the Hero iRocket. It might not be quite as stunt-capable as picks higher on our lineup, but it's still light, hardy, affordable and very nimble. If you're in the market for an RC helicopter that offers plenty of fun without digging too deep into your wallet, it's worth serious consideration.