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.
Another one of the great drone on this list with the beginner in mind, the UDI 818A HD Drone is electric powered, radio controlled, and equipped with six gyroscopes for stabilization. Although it can take a decent beating, it is recommended that this drone not be flown above asphalt or concrete, as it is still made of plastic, and can break if improperly used.
And the best part? You can fly it with your smartphone, or pick up Yuneec’s dedicated controller system if you want tighter, more responsive controls. In other words, if you start with this drone, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of piloting a quadcopter — but more importantly, you’ll also be able to upgrade your setup as your skills progress and your needs change.
Often repainted and re-branded (sometimes at a much higher price) the Syma x5c is positioned at a competitive price for what you get in the box. For about $50+ shipping depending on where you order, you get the quadcopter itself, a transmitter, one battery, and a charger. Extra batteries are inexpensive and you’ll certainly want them if you plan to fly for longer than 6 minutes, but they charge quickly, which is nice. At 9 and a half inches diagonally motor to motor, its not small enough to fly indoors.
We test two main things when reviewing drones – their flying performance, and the camera’s video and stills quality. To test flight, we take the drone out to an approved Flying Field like the one in Richmond Park and check its responsiveness, speed, stabilisation, obstacle avoidance and the accuracy of safety features like return-to-home. We also assess the stability and quality of its video feed from its maximum distance and its battery life claims, based on real world use.
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.