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.
For a beginner, there are a few drones that stand out on this list, but the drone you get heavily depends on what kind of beginner you are. If you’re looking at getting into drones because you like flying things and you want something to learn on, the Bugs 3 is a great choice. If you’re just looking for something to fly for fun around the house and bash around, you will probably want to look at the Mambo FPV.
the first thing we do when we get a new drone is beat it up a little bit. We don’t kick it down the stairs or anything, but we’ll give it a few knocks, twists, and shallow drops to assess the build quality and durability. Does it feel flimsy, or does it feel like it could survive a crash landing in the park? We give each review unit a light beating (and usually a couple unintentional crash landings) before we give you a definitive answer on how durable it is.
Want to keep your budget below $300, we suggest you choose one of the Altair drones we recommend. Altair is a great company (learn about Altair) out of Nebraska and provides top notch customer service! Shop the Altair Outlaw which goes 1000+ meters and costs $279. Altair also offers the AA108 as a budget option at $129 and the 818 Hornet is a great mid range for ages 10-14 and $169.
Many autopilot drones come with multiple flight-modes. Common flight-modes seen in autopilot drones include a follow-me mode, sport mode, and one-touch takeoff and landing modes. They all serve different purposes and create different flight experiences. Follow-me modes allow the drone to follow you as you move and keep you in the frame. This enables you to create complex shots. Sport modes all your autopilot drone to go faster and follow targets such as cars or bikes. One-touch takeoff and landing are important flight modes as they allow for smooth landings and takeoffs with the push of a button. This is a great feature for beginners and pros alike.
For both DJI drones, it's not necessary to go into depth about the basic functions, like take off, landing and navigating. You pay a premium, but these are definitely the top drones in the sky both because of their ease of use and extra features. On one battery, the Mavic flew for 21 minutes, in many different modes, speeds, and altitudes. The Tap to Fly feature on the Mavic was the biggest disappointment. The remote screen is too vague to simply place your finger where you want to go.
With a size small enough to make it good for flying inside or outside, this affordable quadcopter also comes with a light attachment, which also makes it a great drone for flying at night. The downside to all of these attachments, however, is that the Syma X5C Quadcopter has a relatively short battery life. It can be flown for up to seven minutes before needing to be charged again, but spare batteries can be purchased and precharged, so that you'll never need to wait. Due to the popularity of this drone spare parts and accessories can be easy to come by.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t come with a controller, which means you’re forced to pilot Tello via virtual joysticks on a smartphone app: a control method that’s notoriously mushy and imprecise. The good news, though, is that Ryze built the drone with third-party peripherals in mind, so if you prefer to fly with physical sticks under your thumbs, you can pick up a GameSir T1d controller and link it to your bird. We think it’s well worth the extra $30 bucks!
Another great feature is you can use your fingertip to chart a flight path. You do this by dragging your finger across the video image from the drone that is shown by its app on your smartphone. Then, the drone will automatically fly the flight path you have chosen. You can also teach the drone to respond to voice commands that you record with your smartphone.
Overall you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for in the toy drone section with something for a camera to play with. The HD 720p camera takes great video and pictures. The price is right at under $130.00 amazon, and really the customer service is the kicker. No other drone company we’ve spoken to has displayed such dedication to making sure their customers are happy.
Irrespective of the dimensions of your quadcopter, they must not go higher than 400ft above the ground. Likewise, you must always maintain a clear line-of-sight with the machine at all times. You are also expected to adequately inspect your device before each flight session, to ensure its readiness and airworthiness. This is necessary to prevent unnecessary flight accidents.
You can pair the Tello with a third-party gamepad controller, but it’s easy enough to fly using the simple, intuitive Tello app. Thanks to its link with DJI (the Tello’s flight controller is made by the drone manufacturer), it’s a great ‘first drone’ for kids or adults looking for a learner model to practice on before moving to a bigger quadcopter like the the DJI Mavic Air.