Even if one of those individuals who are unable to find some space for drones in their, you would definitely agree with the notion that the drones are the best thing than could have happened to hobbyists in a very long time. And if you are someone who once made up his mind to purchase a quadcopter but held onto his nerves since then, you would be delighted to know that technology has evolved a lot in a short span of time. When comparing camera quality and flight stabilization, you would be amazed to know that the drones produced this year are way ahead of the ones produced in the yesteryears.
With all the good news stuffed so early in the piece, it’s time we go to the bad news. A large investment yields larger profit and so if you want to get your hands on a drone equipped with First Person Viewability and a camera of the highest quality, be ready to spend some serious amount of money. Top quality drones can cost an arm and a leg, so it becomes vital to carry out extensive research before you decide to buy a drone. We have tried and tested numerous Ready to Fly (RTF) drone models present on the market and have come up with a list of the leading models along with the features that one should look to have in a drone of the best quality.
The market is proliferated with cheap drones that can be bought at throw away prices. However, if you are interested in purchasing a drone that is laced with state of the art flight stabilization features and a top quality inbuilt camera, then you will surely have to spend large sums of money around $500. The is the one drone that aptly suits this description. Aerial video footage can be captured with the help of this fabulous drone at a high resolution of 2.7K which is similar to that captured with the help of a more advanced model. Having said that, the Standard version lags behind the Advanced one in terms of control range. You can also purchase the V at Amazon for $499.98 but the camera lets you shoot video footages at High Definition (HD) 1080p which certainly is not as good as the resolution offered by DJI Phantom 3 models.
For those of you who are looking to save some money up their sleeves or are hampered by budgetary constraints, you can go for the which comes for about $350. However, before you set out to purchase this one, you should get yourself familiar with the restrictions posed by this machine. It does not go to staggering altitudes during flight and does not attain mind-blowing speeds. However, if you have always been enthralled with aerial manoeuvres such as flips and barrel rolls, then this should work fine. You will have to control this drone with the help of your smartphone or tablet or any other handheld mobile device. If you want to get a dedicated radio controller, then you will have to purchase the remote with Bebop configuration at Amazon for $274.95. Having said that, such a high investment won’t be considered prudent since you will always be better off buying a drone that is much better equipped. The has recently been released by the manufacturers which is available in both the smartphone and Skycontroller configurations. It can be bought for $550 in the smartphone configuration and for $800 in the Skycontroller one.
The machines that we review and analyse are the ones that come on the Ready to Takeoff configuration so you can take them out of their original packaging and start having fun. With most of the machines that we have reviewed, you will have to use your own Android or iOS powered smartphone or tablet to view the video streaming relayed directly from the drone’s eye. However, we have gone through a few models such as that come with an Android tablet integrated into the radio transmitter itself. We have not quite reviewed the professional models which require the drone aficionados to get their hands on a soldering iron and install flight control mechanisms and tailored gimbals that can house SLR or mirrorless cameras.
Flight Safety and FAA Regulations
All of the drone versions that have made to our list incorporate a number of safety features. Even the Parrot Bebop that has not be designed to cater to long distance flying adventures, is equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) and an automatic Return to Base system. In case your control signal starts getting attenuated or your battery starts running out of juice (most of the drones offer a flight duration of 20 minutes only), the device automatically begins its journey back to its base station and lands their on its own. If you are scared that you might end up losing your drone during a flight, you might as well integrate a GPS tracker to your device.
The is available on the market for a number of drone models and continuously transmits location specific data to the cloud storage via 3G wireless connection. People still end up losing their drones during flying adventures and the internet forums are brimming with folks telling you how they lost their drone to a flyaway. This is also true that harrowing stories are exaggerated more than they actually deserve since flying adventures that do not include any thrilling tales such as those of crashes or lost drones, fail to attract the attention of drone enthusiasts.
For those of the dronies flying their drones inside the US, they need to abide by the rules and regulations formulated by FAA or be ready to face the consequences in the shape of fine or incarceration. The FAA has designated certain areas as no-fly zones. Hence, if you are planning to have some fun while flying your drone near an airport, you better inform the control tower first and then embark on your flying adventure. And even if you think that you can fly your drone in the midst of a barren, desolate desert, bear in mind that you cannot take your drone to an altitude above 400 feet. Majority of the drones are engineered in such a way that they observe the rules and regulations framed by FAA right from the outset. However, flying a drone is similar to driving a car. Even if you happen to get unsighted and miss the speed limit road sign, you will still be given the ticket no matter what.
Racing and Toy Quadcopters
The market has been bombarded with a number of products that claim to be drones but in reality are not! Remote controlled airplanes have been available on the market since a long long time. You can have a look at this video clip from Magnum, P.I. if you are skeptical or are just interested in watching Tom Selleck wearing a bathrobe! Ever since the world has become obsessed with drones, even the commonplace remote controlled quadcopters are being sold in the name of drones. These machines do not include GPS mechanism, flight stability features, return to base functions and other such characteristics that transform a common quadcopter into an actual drone.
We have reviewed numerous such products and you can go through the reviews in our Toy category. Also dont forget to read our detailed review on Top drones with camera for kids. You can also check out the International Drone Racing Association circuit such as the $159.99 at Amazon. You can also have some fun with the small sized . Check out the list of top racing drones.
DJI is Right There At the Top!
The models manufactured by DJI are right there at the top in our list because of a number of reasons. DJI is ahead of the curve currently and produces drone models catering to a wide range of price brackets. As a matter of fact, majority of the spots in our top ten list are occupied by the devices produced by DJI. Tons of enhancements were invoked in the Phantom 2 Vision+ with the DJI Phantom 3 line-in video quality, flight steadiness and intuitiveness. The DJI Phantom 4 was the first drone that got five star rating from top-10-drones.com and it was incorporated with the collision avoidance system. Editor’s Choice honor was granted to the DJI Phantom 2 when it was reviewed. However, the upcoming models include such sweeping enhancements and value additions, we would certainly not recommend you to buy the machines produced even a couple of years ago.
DJI Phantom 4 is presently on the higher end of the price spectrum. So, there is huge majority of drone aficionados who are interested in purchasing the DJI Phantom 3. For beginners, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is an ideal version. With the DJI Phantom 3 4K, you can capture video footages at Ultra High Definition (UHD). However, it includes the same flight stabilization mechanisms as the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. The DJI Phantom 3 Advanced falls in the similar price bracket and lets the pilot record video footages at a resolution of 2.7K. It features the same formidable Lightbridge streaming and manoeuvring mechanisms integrated in the DJI Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 4.
The DJI Inspire also retains the privilege of winning the Editor’s Choice award by us. This machine has been engineered for much more professional drone enthusiasts as compared to the DJI Phantom series. In contrast to the models designed for the hobbyists, this beast features a frame consisting of carbon fibre, a high quality camera that can move around 360 degrees. Moreover, the dual operator control, whereby one person controls the drone while the other one manages the camera, is another stunning feature of this machine. We were fortunate enough to fly the DJI Inspire model equipped with a 4K camera which was similar to the one installed in the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. You can get this beast for $2900 with a single radio controller or for $3300 for the dual operator version which includes a second radio controller.
When it comes to compact sized drones equipped with state of the art safety features and stunning flight stabilization, the devices manufactured by the DJI were the way to go. However, this is definitely changing with time. The first machine we reviewed, the Xiro Xplorer V $499.98 at Amazon was found wanting when it came to the sleekness of the software and an outdated camera. However, it definitely was a testimony to the fact that the DJI Phantom models could further be reduced in size.
The recently released drones such as the Vantage Robotics Snap and the phenomenally compact sized DJI Mavic Pro have upped the ante. With the help of magnets, the Snap connects its main frame to a set of retractable propellers. Hence, portability cannot get easier than this. The Mavic Pro also comes with rotor arms that are retractable and so you can always stuff it into your backpack.
The Parrot Bebop series can also be included in this category of small sized drones. The Bebop has still be able to make to our top 10 list because of its insanely affordable sale price. The review for the Parrot Bebop 2 will soon be finalized for you.
Competition Gets Tougher
is giving serious competition to DJI in the consumer market. The Typhoon series including the Q500 4K has been able to gain plenty of traction among the dronies worldwide. The Q500 was not found to be as formidable as one would expect in terms of flight capabilities. However, we are hoping for big things to come in relation to the upcoming models by Yuneec is their only product to have made to our top 10 list. It was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show and comes with six rotors. Hence, even if one of the propellers or engine, for that matter, malfunction, the device continues to fly. It also includes a rock-solid obstacle avoidance system. You can either purchase the model with standard collision avoidance mechanisms for $1299 or go for the one integrated with a more advanced collision avoidance system powered by Intel’s RealSense technology for $1899.
A new player in the US market, PowerVision has released a couple of models namely PowerEgg which is meant for beginners and PowerEye which has been designed for professionals. We haven’t got our hands on any one of them so we are not really sure what are they all about!
Autel Robotics is another player that is making large strides in the US consumer market. They produced by Autel Robotics appear to be replicas of DJI Phantom series drones dipped in vibrant orange colored paint. We haven’t reviewed them so far but as far as the price goes, one could have a go at them since they come quite cheap.
introduced its flagship Solo drone. But they have been forced to carry out lay offs and are focusing more on the corporate market now. This is certainly a bad news for dronies since the Solo drone comes with wonderful features and would be a staggering choice for GoPro action cameras. However, it offers disappointing flight duration while its GPS is too slow to get synchronized with the satellites. It is available at an amazingly affordable price. But I would not suggest you to buy one. You might not be getting its additional batteries in the future. Moreover, if you want to save some money, you might as well go for the Phantom 3 Standard.
Drones for Professionals
The has been engendered for professional grade videographers, startups and filmmakers. Moreover, you can get it for $3000 and it does not include the camera. Either you can connect a 1-inch sensor fixed-lens camera or a Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens version. You can capture video footages at amazing resolution of 5.2K when either of the two options are used in tandem with the DJI Inspire 2. When the DJI Inspire 2 is equipped with all the requisite features, then you can get it for a whopping $6200. We are in the process of reviewing this beast!
Yuneec also has come up with a drone model equipped with the Micro Four Thirds camera. The for $3499.99 at Amazon is a monster that comes with six rotors and has the capacity to accommodate three batteries. This means that you can get a flight duration of about 42 minutes with this beast. It includes the which is a tailored version of the Panasonic GH4, a camera preferred by a lot of professional grade cinematographers. It does not record video footages in the raw format such as the Raw but it costs slightly less at $4999.
If you go for the abovementioned models, you will certainly not end up losing your investment. You can check out our blog to get access to more reviews on the latest products on the market.