If there’s one thing we look for in the remote control airplanes we review, it’s fun. There’s no point in flying RC planes, whether they’re built for beginners or aimed at expert pilots, if they don’t make you grin from ear to ear. ParkZone’s Ember 2 is an aircraft that’s fairly easy to control and won’t shatter the first time you crash it, but it doesn’t have any gee-whiz abilities that drop your jaw. Given its stiff competition, we wish it did more to excite us.
The Ember 2’s best feature is its battery, a small 70mAh cell. The battery lasted an average of eight minutes 23 seconds in our flight time tests. That alone is well above the curve, but even better were the cell’s charge times; you can recharge a used Ember 2 battery in just 21 minutes. Given that charge times for RC airplanes average over 45 minutes and some take as long as an hour and a half to refuel, 21 minutes is nothing.
The Ember 2’s transmitter is a standard E-flite MLP4DSM, which came in many of the RC airplane kits we tested. The transmitter offers decent range – its connection with the Ember 2’s receiver was solid out to 321 feet on test day – and has support for four-channel aircraft, but the plane only uses three of those channels. It’s driven by a propeller, a rudder and an elevator; there aren’t any ailerons, which means barrel rolls aren’t possible. Even more disappointing, the shape of the Ember 2’s wings keep it from performing loops, a stunt many three-channel aircraft can pull off with ease.
Keep in mind that without SAFE flight assistance or even basic gyroscopic stabilization, the 0.7-ounce Ember 2 can easily be swept aside by a gust of wind. Its structural design purposefully angles the body of the plane up to help maintain lift, but the aircraft itself is shaky, even when there’s no breeze to speak of.
Taken on its own merits, ParkZone’s Ember 2 is an adequate flier. Its battery life and charge times are excellent, it offers fairly easy flight, and the craft’s structure is forgiving if you happen to crash it once or twice. When measured against the fantastic flight models and gyroscopically stabilized planes that are higher on our lineup – including some that cost the same or even less than ParkZone’s aircraft – the Ember 2 struggles.