Griffin Helo TC Review: iPhone Remote Control Helicopter
The Griffin Helo TC is a remote control helicopter that uses an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch or Android device and a small clip on accessory to deliver a fun, though sometimes frustrating experience for $50.
Remote control helicopters are nothing new. I’ve used several of the $20 to $30 models that rely on a stand alone controller, but was never able to control them more than up or down.
With the Griffin Helo TC, I’m no expert, but I can move the helicopter through the house with some level of skill, and thanks to recordable flight plans I can recreate my best flights without effort.
The Helo TC is not a bluetooth helicopter, nor is at as large as the Parrot AR Drone 2.0, but it is a nice accessory for kids and adults.
To use the Helo TC, users must attach a small battery-powered controller to the iPhone and download the free Helo TC companion app and on Android. The controller uses rubber grips and fits any device. It even fits my iPhone 5 in an OtterBox case. The controller connects to the headphone jack.
Once the controller is attached to an iPhone, turn on the helicopter and use the on-screen control to engage lift. This connects with the helicopter and starts a flight. I had trouble connecting the helicopter at first, but the trick is to go full lift right after flipping the on switch.
Once connected, the app offers controls to fly the helicopter. My flight plans are not pretty, even after a few hours of use, but I can make the helicopter move in the general direction I want. The right control stick of the app makes it possible to actually change the direction of the helicopter, unlike the cheap helicopters I’ve used.
Lift is easy enough to master, and there is a button to initiate a safe soft landing. This is handy if the helicopter goes out of control or if it crash lands near family members or animals.
The video below shows what the Helo TC can do in the hands of a skilled operator, like a kid or someone with more time on their hands than me.
The helicopter is incredibly durable, surviving ceiling scraping, wall crashes and about a dozen drops to the pavement while testing outdoors. The kit includes several replacement rotors in case any break. After weeks of abuse the Helo TC shows some white paint from scraping my ceiling and there is a nick in my dining room tablet, but the helicopter is no worse for the wear.
The Helo TC is a fun iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad accessory. The ability to actually make the helicopter fly where I want with a few hours of use is impressive, as is the durability of the device.
Verizon sent the Helo TC over for review, and sells it online at Verizon for $49.99. It is also available on Amazon for $42.
10/17/2012 at 10:37 am
I bought this Friday night and got maybe 30 minutes combined flight time before the upper rotor drive gear stripped after a crash and now it won’t fly. I called the company and they told me their warranty doesn’t cover crashes, only defects. I consider it a major defect to use cheap plastic drive gears in a device they know will be taking a beating as you learn to fly it. They include two additional main rotor blades and two rear rotor blades because they know we’re going to crash it. Clearly it’s a flying toy that is only to be flown indoors where there’s a lot of obstacles like furniture and walls. To me that’s upsetting to spend $50 on a flying device that is made so cheap that it breaks within hours of buying it.
Save you money and get a radio controlled one that flies outside in the open where it’s less likely to run into things.
11/18/2012 at 9:29 am
extremely difficult to control this helicopter. Using a touch screen device you have no way of knowing what your doing with the controls unless to look down at the screen. To do this, of course, you must take your eyes off the helicopter. In theory its a good idea but not very practical. I’d much rather have a controller with real controls so that I can feel what I’m doing while watching what the helicopter is doing.
12/11/2012 at 3:56 am
I cannot find the app or download for controls that are installed on my I-Phone.
I had the app on my phone for about 3 weeks & it all of a sudden stopped working
(would’nt come up on my phone ,white screen) So I deleted the app and now I can’t find the download !!!!PLEASE HELP cell # (210) 215-5947 or E-Mail me [email protected] Thank You
12/26/2012 at 2:21 pm
Hey i would be grat if someone could answer our questions but we have installed the app and followed all the set up instructions to the tee but the when we try to lift off it doesnt go all the way up and stop in the middle the helicopter wont even lift off the ground some help would be greatly apreciated.
12/26/2012 at 5:18 pm
Switch it to “expert” mode it the settings
12/27/2012 at 11:06 pm
I got this for Christmas. It’s pretty cool but ver hard to control! I still haven’t come close to figuring it out. Also, it doesn’t work with my phone, I have a Razr Maxx. It works with my tablet though which is an Asus something. I wish it was easier to control.
01/09/2013 at 9:43 am
Cassie, my boss just got one of these things and couldn’t figure it out either- has the same phone as you. Not sure if this will help but we could not figure out the “Enable Audio” switch to Off as it directs you. He was just trying to turn his sounds off but I figured out that he has to do into the Settings on his phone, go to the Sounds option and scroll all the way to the bottom of the list and it says “Wired Stereo” of some sort, select that and the Enable Audio Sounds must not be checked in order for it to work.
06/22/2016 at 12:15 pm
I bought this one..but i dont like it really, my suggest is buy a rc helicopter.