The Best VIDEO Drones of 2017
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It doesn’t matter whether you are a passionate dronie who is madly in love with drones or a loathing unbeliever who despises them! Drones are a thing of our present and certainly a thing of the future. Folks who have been yearning to get their hands on a quadcopter, we have compiled a list of the best video drones that we tested. Let’s give you an insight into each one of them so that you know what really suits your needs and preferences.
Introducing Best VIDEO Drones
There must be many amongst you who would be looking to vindicate the purchase of their beloved drones while others might not even find an excuse to do so. But hell ya, we all know that drones are kickass machines and a whole lot fun. And here are the glad tidings for those of you who have been thinking to spend some bucks on buying drones but have been able to somehow restrain themselves from doing so: technology has evolved and now there are better things than ever before. The markets have been bombarded by drones with video quality and stabilization features of such a high pedigree that even the quadcopters of the last year won’t even stand a chance against them. And that’s how much tech has evolved in just a year or so!
After everything good comes something bad. We’ve at least got accustomed to that notion from the Hollywood movies that we get to watch. You need to put in some serious cash if you want some feature-rich hi-tech piece of equipment and same goes with video drones. If you want a highly stabilized aerial video device that captures amazing video footages, you’ve got to invest a few bucks. It’s always advisable, hence, to get your research done before setting out to buy a drone because of their tellingly high prices in the market. We have been testing a lot of drones available in the market that come ready-to-go in order to determine what really are the coolest things to look out for in them and the top-of-the-line models out there.
The drone market is proliferated with cheap models that won’t put too much of a burden on your pocket. But if you want a device that is impeccable in steadiness and produces stunning aerials visuals and imagery, then you must be looking at spending about $500. If you’ve got that much money in your pocket, then the Phantom 3 Advanced is the drone to look out for, y’all! It has an integrated camera that captures video footages at a fabulous resolution of 2.7K which is pretty much similar in quality to the slightly more expensive.
However, Phantom 3 Advanced comes with a limited operating range. You can also get your hands on the Xiro Xplorer 5 at Amazon for $499 or in the same price range, but when you compare its 1080p inbuilt camera with that of Phantom 3, you are bound to get little disappointed.
Save Your Money with These Models
For those of you who are looking to save some money up there sleeves, Parrot BeBop is a pretty cool choice which can be had for around $350. But you must be ready to embrace the limitations that come with it. Parrot BeBop is the super fast, high flying drone, but it certainly provides a lot of fun to the beginners who want to get a small sized quadcopter and can perform stunning maneuvers such as flips and rolls. It’s a nice machine which is pretty long lasting. You can get to fly this thing even with your handheld devices such as a smartphone or even a tablet. However, if you don’t want to do that, then you can spare a few bucks for the BeBop configuration with the Skycontroller remote which sells for $299.98 at Amazon. But obviously buying it at such a high price won’t be judicious. It’ll be more prudent to get a drone with far better features than this one. Parrot have released BeBop 2 recently and it is available in both smartphone and skycontroller configurations. It, though, is a bit more expensive and is available for around $550 for just the drone alone. If you want to get the skycontroller, then you’ll have to spend an additional $400.
Ready-to-Fly Best Drone Models
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that we review are generally ready-to-fly variations, which do not need to be assembled prior to usage and hence can be immediately brought into use once the original packaging has been opened. Most of the drones, these days, require a handheld device powered by Android or iOS operating systems to view the live feed broadcast by the drone camera. However, we’ve been fortunate enough to review a few models such as the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K , Typhoon G and Blade Chroma ; and these come with an Android powered tablet integrated into the controller. We haven’t covered the real professional models though.
These pro devices require some serious assembling to do at the outset. You would probably be needing a soldering iron to install flight control elements and gimbals tailored specifically to house a Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) or mirrorless camera.
Safety and Regulations
The drone models that we have reviewed boast a number of features to ensure their safety during flights. For example, the Parrot BeBop has, as a matter of fact, not been designed for long-distance adventures. Yet, it features an inbuilt Global Positioning System (GPS) and an autonomous Return-to-Base capability. The autonomous Return-to-Base feature is extremely useful in the event that your control signal gets disrupted owing to a certain malfunctioning or even when the battery gets too low (remember that majority of the drones give a flying experience of no more than 20 minutes on average with a fully charged battery). In both the above mentioned cases, the drone starts flying back to its home station and lands there automatically. Moreover, if you still are skeptical of losing your quadcopter, you can connect a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device to it. Such a GPS tracking device is FlyTrex Live 3G which is available for a number of drone models and communicates the geographical data associated with the location of the drone continuously during its flight to the cloud storage through a 3G mobile connection. Despite all this assurances, the internet forums are brimming with harrowing stories about dronies losing out on their drone machines due to flyaways. Yes, it is also a reality that more often than not, people have the habit of exaggerating their bad experiences. Obviously, a flight experience without any particular event of notice or without a lost drone won’t be a topic that would merit some hot discussion over the internet forums.
Don’t Forget to Abide by FAA Guidelines
For those of the dronies, who fly their drones in the United States of America, compliance with the rules and regulations formulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is of prime importance. Failing to pay heed to their laws can result in heavy fines or even incarceration in case of serious offences. The FAA has set up no-fly-zones in certain areas; so if you happen to be near any of these zones such as airports, you need to inform the air-traffic controller before sending your drone whizzing through the air. And if you happen to be in the middle of nowhere such a lonely God-forsaken desert, do not make an attempt to take your drone above the altitude of 400 feet. A majority of the drones are designed and configured to obey these rules at the time of manufacture. However, flying a drone is almost the same as driving a car on a highway. Even if you could not get a sight of the speed limit sign and got caught by the patrolling police, you will definitely end up getting a speeding ticket in spite of all your excuses.
So, it is imperative to get a quick glimpse at the rules and regulations stipulated in the FAA guidelines before you purchase a drone. Here’s another important rule that you need to take care of: if your new drone happens to be more than half a pound in weight, you ought to get it registered with the FAA.
Racing and Toy Quadcopters
Recently, the markets have been bombarded with devices being sold in the name of drones but do not possess features that quite come close enough to being an actual drone. Aeroplanes driven by remote controls have been manufactured for decades. (Take a glimpse at this video clip from Magnum, P.I. if you do not trust me, or are just interested in seeing Tom Selleck in a bathrobe). Ever since the drones have become popular like raging fire, devices that are not actual drones but are just RC planes, are being sold in the name of drones. These remote-controlled devices do not portray features such as GPS stabilization, return-to-base capability and the autonomous flight features that give the drone the title of DRONE.
Toys Review Section
We’ve taken out some of our time reviewing these planes and have placed them in our Drone for Kids section. If you want a machine to compete in the International Drone Racing Association league, such as the Horizon Hobby Blade Nano QX2 FPV BNF (available at Amazon on discount for $59.99), or are just interested in spending some good quality time and having fun with a toy copter such as the Aerius.
DJI are without any shred of doubt, the Drone Kings and it is their models that are ranked at the top of our lists. Well, there are plenty of good reasons for their continuous dominance. DJI have been able to harness technology that has taken them far ahead of the competition. They have products that cater to a variety of price ranges and their products occupy quite a few positions in our top 10 list. The Phantom 2 Vision+ model, available at Amazon for $600.00, was vastly improved in terms of features and capabilities, with the introduction of Phantom 3 series which is ahead of the pack when it comes to flight steadiness, quality of video footage and user-friendliness. Phantom 4 which is the first drone to be ranked as five star drone by Top-10-Drones.com, has been equipped with a state-of-the-art technology that enables the device to avoid obstacles autonomously.
DJI Phantom 3 Series
Since the Phantom 4 is quite expensive, so the Phantom 3 series has still been able to maintain popularity among the drone aficionados. Phantom 3 Standard model is an ideal choice for the rookie pilots while you can make a jump to the Phantom 3 4K variation of the series, which makes use of the same WiFi based control mechanism as the Phantom 3 Standard, but provides a video footage of 4K resolution. Phantom 3 Advanced Phantom 3 Advanced is also available in the similar price range which shoots video footages at a resolution of 2.7K and boasts smooth Lightbridge video streaming and a control mechanism which is also present in Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 4.
DJI Inspire 1
DJI Inspire 1 has been designed specifically for the pros. It includes a number of features which render it the status of being entirely different from the models designed for the intermediate dronies. Some of these features include an outer body made of carbon fibre, an omnidirectional camera and the ability to be controlled by dual operators – where one person flies the device while the other one controls the camera. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on the variation that included a 4K camera similar in quality to the one integrated in Phantom 3 Professional.
Big Drones, Small Drones
The DJI Phantom series has been able to retain the tag of being the smallest sized fully-featured drones out there with integrated flight stabilization and safety features. However, trends are changing now. Xiro Xplorer (available at Amazon for $299.98), the first one we reviewed, was probably not quite up to scratch in terms of the software and portrayed a camera that was not quite as good as one would like, but it definitely is an evidence of the fact that the Phantom shape factor can be surely made a lot smaller in size.
Some of the newer drones such as Vantage Robotics Snap, the GoPro Karma and DJI’s unbelievably small Mavic Pro have been able to make serious inroads in this direction. The Vantage Robotics Snap makes use of magnets to connect its main body to a pair of folding propellers, thereby allowing its comfortable assembly, disassembly and portability. Likewise, the GoPro Karma and Mavic Pro come with tiny rotor arms get wrapped into the chassis and hence can be easily transported or placed in small backpacks. We’ve been lucky enough to review Mavic Pro which, in spite of its small size, is an equivalent of Phantom 4.
As far as the consumer market is concerned, Yuneec and DJI are the two arch-rivals. Yuneec’s Typhoon series alongside the Q500 4K has been able to get the attention of many a dronies. I observed that Q500 was found wanting in a few areas during its tests but the model which is next-in-line in the series, seems to be a pretty exciting prospect. The Typhoon H, which was announced at the CES, is the only drone from Yuneec to be able to make to our Top Ten list. This version consists of six rotors and has the capability of flying even after the loss of a propeller or an engine, thanks mainly due to a smart obstacle avoidance system.
There is a player that has quite recently joined the US market and it is PowerVision. It has released a couple of quadcopters, namely, the cheaper PowerEgg . We haven’t so far been able to test them out so far.
Autel Robotics is another player that has been able to make some noise in the drone market in USA. Its series of X-Star drones are essentially DJI Phantom drones which seem to be dipped in orange red paint. Again, we have checked them out so far but as far as price goes, they are competing with the models manufactured by DJI.
3D Robotics made an entry into the US market with Solo, one of its flagship drones. But there have been rumours that the enterprise has seen laid-offs and has now decided to focus more on the corporate market. This is quite disappointing to be honest because Solo did came up with quite a few innovative features and could have been an ideal choice for the dronies who are in love with the GoPro action camera. However, it lagged behind in terms of battery life and a slow GPS that took almost eternity to get connected to satellites.
The DJI Inspire 1 Pro (priced at $3,599.00) and the Inspire 1 Raw (priced at $5,799.00) have been built for the professional cinematographers and their prices are a true reflection of this fact. They come with the similar features as far as the hardware is concerned, but use an interchangeable lens camera with an image sensor manufacture by Micro Four Thirds and a 15mm f/1.7 lens that comes in the original packing. The DJI Inspire 1 Pro shoots video footage at 4K which is compressed at a slightly higher bit rate while the Raw, as the name suggests, records the video without any compression, thereby providing truly cinema-quality video footage. Those who are in possession of DJI Inspire 1 can make an upgrade to their device without having to change their hardware.
Yuneec has also introduced a model with the Micro Four Thirds camera. It’s called Tornado H920 which is priced at $2,900.00 at Amazon and is massive drone with six rotors. It is spacious enough to accommodate three batteries which give it the unprecedented 42-minute long flight duration. It boasts the CGO4 camera which is essentially a customized version of the Panasonic GH4 which has been able to gain plenty of traction with the cinematographers. While it may not be able to record uncompressed video as done by the DJI Inspire 1 Raw, but considering its price ($4,999.00), it surely is a few thousand dollars lesser in price that the former.
Finally, there is no way you should fail in purchasing the drone of your dreams once going through our extensive reviews. Please do not forget to take a look at our Complete Drone Guide.
Featured in this Roundup of Best Video Drones
DJI Phantom 4
This is the latest version of the DJI’s top-of-the-line drones, made specifically for the intermediate dronies with a number of enhancements. It is by far the most advanced video drone designed for consumers on the market and has been priced accordingly.
DJI Inspire 1
The DJI Inspire 1 offers features that have been designed for the professionals and boasts a camera that can be upgraded. It also includes the magnificent dual operator control system and comes with an additional controller.
DJI Phantom 3 Professional
As compared to its previous kins in the Phantom series, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional furnishes a superb flying experience and top quality video camera which captures an amazing footage.
DJI Phantom 3 Standard
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is priced in accordance with the pocket of the dronies who are new to the art of flying. It boasts features that are quite common to the magnificent Phantom series which include stability, video quality and durability.
DJI Mavic Pro
Considering its size, you would surely be surprised to know that this amazing drone portrays a sharp, crisp, steady and high quality 4K camera. This one has been designed for those who are looking to get their hands on portable devices or which can be placed easily inside small sized backpacks. You can call it easily on the go best video drone of 2017.
DJI Phantom 3 4K
This fabulous drone captures extremely smooth and steady ultra-high definition aerial imagery and video footages and sports safety features that are a trademark of all the DJI drones in the market.
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
Multitudes of features and the stunning video recording at an amazingly high resolution of 2.7K make this drone a crowd favorite.
3D Robotics Solo
Professional videographers who want to capture some high quality aerial video recordings with a GoPro action camera will fall in love with this machine. However, it lags behind when it comes to GPS connectivity which is rather slow and very short battery life.
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
Flight interface and video quality is where this drone lags behind its competitors. Its real plus, though, is the Intel RealSense technology.
User-friendliness and steady video are the traits that have given this drone so much popularity among the beginner dronies. It, however, has limitations when it comes to reach high altitudes and has a pretty short battery life to boot.
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