The word “drone” has taken on a few different meanings over the years. Some people think of a drone as a bee, others might think of those predator drones that the military uses. The drones that most people talk about today are simply radio controlled aircraft that have some level of autonomous features. A drone can be a plane, a helicopter, a quadcopter, or any combination in-between. Most of the drones sold today are quadcopters. They have 4 rotors and a flight controller that is used to stabilize the lift from the each propeller.
While DJI may be the first name you think of when it comes to drones, it isn't the only game in town. You can also look at models from Autel Robotics, Parrot, PowerVision, and Yuneec. Others have dabbled in the consumer drone space and exited quickly—GoPro pulled its Karma after a rocky launch and poor sales, and 3D Robotics tried to get in with the Solo, but also gave up the fight to focus on the industrial and enterprise spaces.
Although this HD Drone can be flown safely outside, make sure to avoid too much wind whenever possible. This is a lightweight drone, and as such it is susceptible to harsher weather conditions than some of the heavier, higher end drones. For hobbyists just itching to go out on blustery days when the wind is howling, try leaving the drone at home and taking a kite out instead.
There is such a wealth of options in this rapidly growing field that we wanted to share a couple more drones that we like. The first is the Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini RC Quadcopter. This UAV offers a great feature set at an economical price, and its fast charge time (under an hour) will have you back in the air in a hurry. The Force1 U45WF Quadcopter offers features rarely seen at this price point, such as a custom route mode that allows you to trace out a path on the screen that the drone then follows. We also love that this drone ships with three batteries to greatly extend your flying time.
This quadcopter for sale packs quite a punch. The battery allows for up to 28 minutes of flying with a very reasonable recharge time. In fact, this top rated drone can last for up to 5 kilometers, which is pretty decent. The outdoors positioning module consists of both GPS and GLONASS for better accuracy and stability when in the air, with a top speed of 45mph.
The Hubsan X4 makes the number four spot on our list. On the other end of the spectrum of affordable drones, the Husban X4 offers what few others in its category can. The first thing you'll notice is its size, as the Husban X4 is hardly bigger than a standard smart phone. Due to its smaller frame and lighter weight, this tiny drone is best when used indoors, or outside on a calm day with no wind, as it could get carried away by any particularly large gusts.
While it does not have a whole lot of features, Orientation mode is pretty useful. It ensures that your drone stays within connection range and won’t fly off on you. The LED lights are great for night flying, especially when the battery is low and you need to ground it quickly. It can do the basic flip approximately 1 meter off the ground to ensure it doesn’t collide.
HD video starts at the resolution of 1080p as a minimum. For all of these drones, the video is captured at the lower resolution of 720p, even when they claim to have HD cameras. The resolution of still images is always higher than the video. With still photos, the resolution can be as low as 1 megapixel (equal to 1000p) and that resolution is considered HD for still photos.
One of the most useful features of this drone that makes it great for beginners is how stable it remains while in the air. It even has a no-tip function to allow for an even smoother fly. This is the best small drone for less than $100, for the beginner looking to experiment with a fast, versatile, and extremely smooth flying drone at a shockingly affordable price. It comes with a 2.4ghz transmitter, spare propellers, and a USB charging cable, charges in forty minutes, and offers a decent amount of flight time averaging out at nine minutes.
The most recent variant, the cx10c, is another small improvement over the other two. Again, it only adds one feature, but this time its a little bit more substantial, this time, they’ve added a camera. With a micro sd card you can watch videos of your flights from the perspective of the drone. It may not be a great camera, its not even a good camera, the footage is mediocre and would never compare even slightly to a high end multirotor, but for the price ($25) and the size (roughly the same as before) its amazing that it includes one.
The Altair Aerial Outlaw Drone is one of the best GPS drones around and the absolute best that you can find for under $300. Thanks to the stabilization features in GPS flight mode, this drone will keep itself hovering in midair at whatever place you choose for it to go, making it easy to line up the perfect shot for your photo or video camera. It also has a 1000 meter flight range and a flight time of nearly 20 minutes, which is great for aerial photographers who need time for a longer shoot. If you want high definition, pro-quality photography at a price that won’t break the bank, the Outlaw is the choice for you!
These drones are marketed towards beginners because they are really cheap. However, these drones are not the easiest drones on the market to fly. Higher-priced drones, with the ability to use GPS coordinates and that have onboard obstacle detection and collision avoidance, are much easier to fly than these drones. You will have to spend in the range of $200 to $300 to get these advanced features for a drone; however, you may ultimately be happier if you do this than if you lose or crash one of these drones.
Generally speaking, drones that cost less than $100 bucks aren’t worth your time. They’re flimsy, they lack advanced features, and they’re almost always squirrely as hell in the air. But Tello is different. Despite the fact that it retails for only $99, it boasts a boatload of high-end features and functionality. Under the hood you’ll find a 14-core Intel vision processing chip, flight stabilization tech from DJI, a 5 megapixel camera capable of shooting 720p HD video, and a battery that gets you 13 minutes of flight time.
The UDI 818A comes ready to go right from the box. The only thing necessary is to charge the battery, which can take up to an hour. While this can be annoying, the wait is worth it, as the 3.7V 500mAh LiPo battery lasts a full two to three minutes longer than Quadcopters like the Syma X5C. Along with that, included in the box are also four backup propellers, a mini screwdriver, battery charger, and USB connector for the attachable camera so that pictures and videos can be saved right on to your computer.
With headless mode, you don’t need to worry which way the drone is facing because your controller is the basis for the drone’s orientation. In other words, whichever way the controller is pointing is the way the drone is pointing. This will help you master all aspects of drone flight, and as such it is one of the top features that beginners should consider.
And now the bad news. You get what you pay for, and if you want an aerial video platform that can capture stunning footage, you need to be ready to spend some cash. Because drones are such pricey propositions, it pays to do your research before buying one. We've tested many of the ready-to-fly models on the market to determine what's important to look for, and the best models available.