The Ultimate Drone Buying Guide
The concept for the unmanned aerial vehicle / drone has been around since the days of World War One. With its strong military history and potential, most drones and drone technology was totally restricted from the general public. In 2014-2015 the technology to mass produce safe drones gained popularity, and civilian use really came into its own after much lobbying from the FAA and congress.
Thanks to the few dedicated pioneers, drone usage has grown dramatically since 2014. In addition to that growth, the types of drones for sale is growing at an ever- expanding rate. For example, a purchaser may choose to get a toy drone, a drone for real life gaming or they may be torn between the Yuneec vs the DJI drone for their photography or other professional uses. Depending on the brand and planned use, each drone comes at a different price point. So, let’s look at usage for a few brands, comparing price points to determine the best drone for your personal use.
These are drones aimed at younger users typically aged 5-14. The point here is to introduce them to the piloting world while providing a fun and memorable experience. In the US, recreational drone piloting requires registration with the FAA. This stipulation hinges on weight; so thankfully not all models require this process. Most toy models are really for backyard use anyway, so having to register a child pilot each time they get a new model may become an inconvenience. Models that weigh between 0.55 and 55 pounds on take -off will not require registration. A great toy model under $20 would be the Fast Lane Radio Control FLX Nano Drone.
On the pricier side at $85, there is the Air Hogs Star Trek U.S.S Enterprise model drone. This remote-controlled drone comes with the lights and sounds of the Enterprise as it is being used.
The Gamer’s Drone
It is only fair to give a warning here because all drones from this point onward are for adult audiences. That means knowing the FAA rules in your area and being liable for prosecution if you ignore them.
Thanks to a drop in drone prices coupled with a rise in popularity, many gamers have been looking to have a first-person experience in real life. This caused the creation of many drone combat leagues were players can “fight” using drones as their proxies. Another gamer use is for FPV- first person view; many drone races have been arranged which allows pilots to see the world from the drone’s perspective while navigating tricky obstacles during a race.
Other less competitive uses include synchronizing the drone’s camera with a smart phone to ensure real time imagery as the drone is in flight. While many drones in the category are modified, here are a few solid models to begin competing with before heading to the circuits of the World Drone Prix in Dubai.
The TBS Vendetta is a sleek piece of equipment that was built for speed with a lightweight yet sturdy carbon fiber frame. With prices starting at $500, the TBX comes with a HD camera, modified power cube and a few options for a USB or other mounts as the need arises.
Another great racer is the Storm Racing Drone which is ideal for indoor environments. Built with a lightweight carbon fiber frame, starter prices begin at $199.
Drones for Commercial Uses
Due to the immense amount of technology being packed into these machines, drone prices can get as high as $250000 or more! Even with these price tags, drones have become particularly popular in the fields of aerial photography and videography. Many modern documentaries which requires interacting in with nature an unobtrusive manner is being shot with drones.
Many otherwise elusive animal species are being observed and studied without disrupting their habitat. The most popular drones for this type of use are the Yuneec and DIJ brands specifically the Typhoon and Phantom series respectively.
The new Typhoon H starts at $1300 with features such as retractable landing gear, collapsible arms, a 360-degree camera gimble and a built-in video monitor.
The DJI on the other hand starts at $1200 and it has greater emphasis on usability and photography. The camera takes better footage, the interface is simple and while on the go, sensors are used to avoid objects that may cause an accident.