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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ares (Horizon Hobby spinoff) UM MD-500D CX 100 - Flight Review

The new Ares company has stormed onto the Ultra-Micro scene.  Offering apparent competition to Horizon Hobby micros, I've found the new line Ares models to be pretty good, so far.

Too good, maybe.  The fact is, these models seem to have a lot of parts resemblance and even direct commonality and compatibility with Horizon Hobby models.  A minute of research  reveals that Ares has home town HQ commonality with Horizon Hobby, too.  As well as people commonality, central management are Horizon Hobby transplants.    The parent company "Firelands Group" www homepage is nothing but a shell, a sure sign of a corporate scam.

Also strange, is the naming convention commonality, such as the use of "Ultra-Micro" and "CX" for coax, linear servos, and even the use of the term "5-in-1" control board, not to mention the goofy string of acronyms instead of a simple name.    It is odd that such a new company can have similar gyro technology built-in to a board similar to Horizon boards, and even use the same terminolgy without fear of patent infringement.

My conclusion:

This looks like yet another, terribly dishonest scam from Horizon Hobby.  Another attempt to present "competition" that isn't competition at all, but a covert spinoff aimed at distributing manufacturer risk by laundering a line of variants to existing product lines and intellectual property. 

Horizon Hobby's seemingly endless scam artistry aside, how does their latest "Ares mCX variant" stack up to the older mCX?  Well, it a lot of ways it is better, but in one more important way it's worse.

The inbred Ares-branded HH mCX is a little smoother, faster, and has more mass than its mCX and mCX2 cousins.  The added mass and scaled up power makes it a little more substantial in the air, and provides a bit more inherent pendulum stability under the now-metal rotor shaft.  Forward speed and maneuverability also scales up.

Unfortunately, apparently to make their latest scam complete, an incompatible and even cheaper toy radio was included, and it isn't very good.  The radio's stick feel is even worse than the radios included with Horizon's overtly branded micros, and the fine control resolution and inflight trim is sloppy.  It's hard to tell if the imprecision stems from the copter or the radio, but my assessment is that the cheap radio is at fault.

If Horizon could find a way to embrace honesty as a core business value instead of embarking on these endless attempts to shield product line responsibility, feign competition, and fool a customer base that is much smarter than they, this mCX variant would make a worthy Blade mCX3.

Unfortunately, despite a clearly improved mCX heli, you get a cheaper, and even less precise radio piled on top of a loss of their BNF standard, and that isn't worth the trade.  BNF-ability is one of the few consistently good things about HH micros, as it saves radio cost and hassle with future purchases.  So a nice as this little coax heli turned out, forever tying it to a lousy toy controller makes it hard to justify at the same price point as a BNF-standard, Blade-branded mCX, and a very sad and unnecessary addition to my NEUTRAL list.

Appearance: A
Better looking than it's nerdy Blade-bodied brethren.

Airframe:  A-
Bigger than the previous mCX.  Tied to mushy, imprecise radio.  

Power System: B
Good power.   Very smooth in flight.  Faster than previous mCXs.

Build Quality/Durability: A-

Hard body provides better armor than its mCX cousin. 

Value:  C- 
An improved, non-bindable mCX variant with a poor radio.

Overall Grade:
C+
Horizon flubbed the value proposition of their best mCX yet.
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