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As drones go, inexpensive Holy Stone mini makes the cut

by JOY SCHWABACH | May 1, 2021 at 1:50 a.m.

Da-Jiang Innovations, commonly called DJI, makes the best drones, according to just about everyone. But who wants to spend a thousand dollars? I don't know about you, but I'm not planning to become a drone professional.

Recently, I borrowed a $31 Holy Stone HS 210 mini-drone from a friend. It's astonishingly easy to fly, compared with the previous miniature drone I flew. The old quadcopter shot past me like a rocket, banging against every obstacle in my apartment. Not this time.

Push a button on the 3-inch-by-3-inch flying machine, and it launches. Push another, and it flies in circles. Push another and it does aerial flips or lands. Push two buttons -- if it's about to hit Aunt Sally -- and it shuts off instantly. It hovers in midair like it's sitting on a solid surface. A user on Amazon said it got her anti-drone daughter back to flying with the family.

The HS 210 stays aloft for 21 minutes if you use all three rechargeable batteries, one at a time for seven minutes each. Set it to fly at a slow speed to avoid running into things. I enjoyed flying it around the living room. The propellers are caged so they can't break off or slice into something.

If you want to go to the next level, there's a midsize drone for $60, the HS 160. It has a camera. But inside the house it can be nerve-wracking. That's because once inside, we tend to fly it lower, so there's a "ground effect," also called aerodynamic drag.

The HS 160 controller has a slot for your phone and an app to command your drone. You see what the drone sees. Press a button to take a photo or hold it down to take a video. The videos and photos I saw, taken by my friend outside and inside at eye level, look great.

You can also use the HS 160 to take photos or videos from above. This would be handy at a wedding or party. At press time, Amazon said they're out of stock, but Holy Stone has lots of similar models.


Thisissand is a free app from As you hold your finger on your screen, sand piles up, making colorful patterns. The variety is amazing. I made overlapping mountains of many colors.

Zen Coloring Book for Adults is more than your ordinary coloring book. Add frames to your creation, as well as textures, such as burlap, silk or raindrops. I used the app on my Chromebook so I'd get a larger coloring surface.


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It starts out slowly, showering you with praise as you go. Start by choosing between Python, a general purpose programming language, or CSS, the language of the web. Then choose between beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. I found it fun, especially when I saw my name go up on the leaderboard because I'd stuck with it for 20 minutes. You get more projects with the pro version, which is $80 a year after the free trial, from


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Through May 2, is broadcasting a variety of speakers talking about foods that prevent cancer, heart disease, dementia and other chronic illnesses. Get ready for a bowl of miso soup with kombu or a seaweed salad.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at


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