Drone For Beginners: UDI U818A
So it’s your first drone and you want to learn how to fly it before investing in something a bit bigger? You need something cheap, but tough - so it gets stuck in a tree you won’t cry about it. This has a four-loop style frame that will protect the large rotors in case of crashes, and they rotors are incredibly cheap ($3) and easy to replace. It has a video camera for 640 x 380 pixel video, but the quality isn’t great.
Best Value Drone: Blade Nano QX
Well, you bought a cheap, beginner drone and learned how to fly it and now you want something more. It’s pretty tiny, and comes with two flight modes: stability and agility. In agility mode, there is full manual control over the quadcopter, whereas in stability mode, it will automatically fly itself when no one is holding the controls. This means you can learn how to flip your drone manually. It starts at $90, but can go up to $200 for faster models.
Best Professional Drone: DJI Inspire 1
This is the mother of all drones. I mean you see it and you know. One of the most quadcopters on the market, it can do pretty much everything, including HD video (1080 pixels at 60 fps) streaming of up to a mile, 4K video recording at 24-30 fps, dual pilot operation, optical flow stabilization, 50 mph top speed and it has an amazing transformer design. The camera snaps 12 megapixel shots, and the 3-axis gimbal ensures rotation to get the perfect angle. It costs $2900, but it’s the drone for professional applications including search and rescue, aerial photography, etc.
Best Camera Drone: DJI Phantom 3
Not only will you get 4K video with 12 megapixel still photos, but there is live HD video streaming (1080 pixels at 30 fps and 720 pixels at 60 fps) directly on your mobile device which you can stream directly to YouTube. It has 20 minutes of (true) flight time, and a faster charging battery charger. Also on board is an integrated Wi-Fi range extender and wheel for better angling the camera. It also has a very excellent mobile app, and free in-app Flight simulator to learn how to fly. It’s not cheap, but it has the best camera! Currently priced at $1259, which is pretty amazing because it can do pretty much everything the Inspire 1 can do.
Best Drone For The Mechanic: 3D Robotics IRIS+
Made for those that want are drone beginners but want to tinker with it and modify their drone (such as making it lighter so it will fly longer, or programming it to track your dog), this drone has plenty of auto-pilot features (such as auto takeoff and landing), GPS waypoint flight (with a computer or Android device), live data telemetry, etc. It includes a USB computer interface and open-source software for creating the GPS-guided software. You can also attach a GoPro to get aerial video, but this quadcopter is more for those that want to learn about flight controllers and auto-pilot systems. It starts at $735 but goes up to $2,000.
Best Night Drone: Parrot MiniDrone Airborne Night
It has two massively wide-angle LED headlights so the user can see in the dark, and they can be programmed to flash and blink. It speeds along at 11 mph, and can fly for nine minutes and has a range of 164 feet. It has automatic stabilization (duh, what drone doesn’t?) but way cooler: it can manage 90-degree and 180-degree stunts. It has a built-in camera that can record video footage at 640 x 480 resolution, and snap up to 30 still images per second. For fun: the polite-themed version, Mac Lane, can terrify your neighbors at night. You can find it for $129.
Best Water Drone: Parrot MiniDrone Hydrofoil
The Hydrofoil is Parrot’s first drone that manages to combine a MiniDrone with a hydrofoil, or a structure that allows the boat to be lifted above the water. When the MiniDrone is securely attached, it can rotate 90 degrees to become a four-bladed propeller for full water contact. The Hydrofoil is controlled can be controlled via Bluetooth with a smartphone app. More importantly, the drone can cruise up to 6.2 miles per on the water for up to seven minutes, and it can fly up to 11.18 mph for up to nine minutes after it has been detached from the boat half. The camera, meanwhile, can snap 640 x 480 resolution shots and save it to the 1GB of internal storage.It’s currently priced at $179.
Best Idea Drone: The Nixie
This teeny, tiny drone is the first of its kind. Not only is it a wearable wristband that can detach and fly, it has it’s own micro camera to ensure you remember your favorite memories. This remote controlled quadcopter offers preset modes, and will fly back to your wrist automatically. Nixie is still currently in concept, but you can get updates here.
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