Drones

Well, I see your confusion – how to choose the best drone model among those thousands models of already existing ones? How much it is ok to pay for it – 20, 100, 1000 or 5000 dollars?


So, if you’ve decided to buy a quadcopter but the problem is which one to choose – here you’ll get the answers to all your questions. There are 18 drone models in our review ranging from the simplest to the most advanced ones plus a detailed guide.

What’s the bottom line?
Well, it is how to choose the best drone?
What is a multirotor?
What is the difference between quadcopter and hexacopter?

First we should clarify the terms that are used. We are going to call the flying machines – drones, though it’s not very correct. The thing is that drone is a spoken term which is just easier to be said. The right name for these devices is a multirotor or a multicopter.


Depending on the number of rotors a drone is called tricopter (3 rotors), quadcopter (4 rotors), hexacopter (6 rotors) or octocopter (8 rotors).

Quadcopter — its the most popular one among multicopters. Its 4 rotors ensure rather sufficient stability, overflight height, control response and flying range. The device has diagonal rotors that move in one direction along one device diagonal and in the opposite direction along the other diagonal.

As for hexacopters and octocopters – they can lift high and carry some heavy equipment. If one of the rotors breaks down the device still can land successfully unlike quadcopters and tricopters which just fall down in this case.

These multicopter models are the most reliable one and the most expensive as well.

Tricopter – is rather rare sort of multicopters. Its advantages are small size and light weight as well as high control response.

Radio-controlled drone quadcopter can be used for many purposes, including military ones. Though in everyday life the device is more often used for two reasons:

  • as a toy
  • as a device to perform video recording

As well as for:

  • different goods delivery
  • drone races

For these reasons (rather narrow application range) we won’t include them in our review. First, make up your mind – why do you need a drone at all?

It’s better to make this choice seriously and consciously.

Ask yourself a question: why do I need this device?


Just for fun? To present it to someone?
To train before flying professional drones?
For some amateur or professional video recording?
To make money by uploading your unique videos to youtube?
To study hard-to-reach places?
For some professional business applications?

If you need the machine as an entertainment – it’s not worth spending a lot of money. Your requirements can be met by buying the simplest quadcopter models. You’ll just have to choose the proper size of the device (since quadcopters differ in diameter – from several inches to dozens of inches) and decide how much money you’d like to spend.

However, if you need a quadcopter to film video than you should consider the devices which can carry a GoPro or those that already have a camera installed. The price of quadcopters capable to carry GoPro and designed specially for video recording starts from $500 (these are mainly old models without GPS), but it’s better to be ready to spend about $1000-1500. In this case you’ll surely find what you are looking for.

A drone copter to deliver goods to buyers.
So you have your own business? And require fast, reliable and modern delivery of your clients’ orders?
Here are the good news! Load-lifting drones already exist!
Though high quality models are still hard to find on the market. Thus when choosing the device for goods delivery pay attention to its rotor blades number, flight endurance and carrying capacity. If you want to minimize the risks – GPS unit on board will make the device flight more reliable and controllable as well as helps to find the device if it gets lost.

Terms – let’s get into the details

Below you may find the list of abbreviations and some special terms widely used both by drones manufacturers and users.
Ready-to-fly (RTF) – this abbreviation usually comes on the device packaging right after the model name and it means that the drone is already assembled and ready for use. The only thing you should do yourself is to faster the rotors and check the battery level.

Almost-ready-to-fly (ARTF or ARF) – this means that some basic components are missing in the device set – such as a special unit, a battery or a transmitter. Without them the machine won’t work. It’s important to take this into account when choosing a drone.

Bind-N-Fly (BNF) – this abbreviation says that the device set has no transmitter (a thing to control the machine) in it and without it the drone won’t fly. You’ll have to buy it yourself. At that you should remember that a remote control device and a drone use the same frequency range.

First-person view (FPV) – this says that there is a camera in the set and it can transmit the image to a monitor or augmented reality glasses in the real time scale

Return-to-home (RTH) – means that the device has a function of automatic return to a flight operator in case of a crash or if the battery gets critically low.

Gimbal – says that this drone has a 3-axis precision gimbal camera – a motorized arm that uses accelerometers and gyroscopes to stabilize the camera.

Headless mode – if you see this word combination on a drone packaging it means that the device has a simplified control mode. You can control it same way regardless of its location relative to a user. That is no matter which side the drone faces its user – front or back one: in both cases the device will fly in the user’s direction.

Follow me – is the name of the mode using which you make the drone follow its user (namely, follow the device that controls the drone).

Brushless motor – this says that Brushless motor comes in the device set. This motor unlike brush-type ones is more powerful, durable and less noisy.

Here is the review of the best drone companies
Among the vast number of drone companies there are those, whose models stand out from the rest for their features and they are considered to be one of the best for various parameters.

DJI is a company that produces bestselling quadcopter models for professionals. Its products have never been low-end ones, however they have always been high quality ones with a sufficient number of hi-tech stuff and perfect performance characteristics.

Syma is a Chinese manufacturer of not expensive drones popular due to its simplicity, reliability and not very high price. These were Syma quadcopter models that became the first drone models for the majority of users.

Parrot is a Korean drone company. It produces moderately priced devices for entertainment. Its drones have rather good cameras and control response.

Walkera is a company famous for its high quality and technically ingenious copter models. It produces high speed devices, though there are also some good FPV models with camera in its product line.
The best drones by 2017
Quadcopter market grows constantly. Each year 2-3 new companies enter it and present their radio-controlled drone models. On one hand it ensures wide range of choice for buyers and on the other hand it makes us go deeper into drone details while trying to choose the best one.
To make this process easier we’ve decided to make a list of the most currently popular quadcopters (for winter-spring of 2017): it includes both small toy quadcopters, average sized ones and professional drones with camera.
The best drones with camera
This review covers 7 models
Parrot Bebop 2 is a drone for high-speed FPV flights

A new Parrot Bebop Drone 2 is designed first of all for newbies in the field of radio-controlled flying machines. The manufacturer has equipped this copter with more powerful battery (2700 mAh capacity), due to which parrot drone flying time has increased from 11 to 25 minutes. Parrot Bepop 2 has easy and user-friendly control interface both from a smartphone or a tablet. The drone comes with a remote control device Parrot Skycontroller, that improves flying possibilities of the machine.
The main feature of Bebop Drone 2 is its unique camera (located on a stabilizing arms) with a sensor for 14 Mpx and a Fisheye objective. The camera can film quality Full HD video and take pictures with maximal resolution. Due to strong software and hardware platform the manufacturer succeeded in implementation of digital video stabilization system that performs as good as gyro stabilization.
Another feature of this drone is its position control system GNSS (GPS + GLONASS + Galileo). An embedded unit allows tracking the device location, setting in advance the route for it to fly by an autopilot as well as getting it back to the flying-off point with one touch.
Parrot Bebop has been the company’s flagship model for a long time, but now the model number 2 was produced.
This model has an obvious advantage over the previous one due to its This model has an obvious advantage over the previous one due to its improved flying characteristics, twice longer off-line work duration, a new camera and smaller size. Unlike its predecessor Parrot Bebop 2 advantages can be easily seen – it is more powerful due to higher tightness of its brushless motor winding as well as to new and more efficient speed controllers. The camera has been upgraded and now it films better if there’s lack of light and thanks to a new optical system and higher inclination angle of the camera itself much more objects will get into its frame.
The designers have equipped the machine with a powerful battery which more than twice increased the flying time in comparison with the previous model. There are powerful LED tap lights on the device’s back side. A new GPS controller Ublox Neo 8M is mounted on the device, which has raised the number of the satellites being detected up to 19 (as against 12 that the previous model has). Therefore now the drone positional precision has been sufficiently improved.
On Parrot Bebop 2 board there is 14 Mpx camera with digital 3-axis stabilization set to an angle into a polypropylene box in the device head. Completely new fisheye lens has improved the camera filming ability when there is lack of light. It records video with 1920 × 1080Р resolution at 30 fps, in H264 format as well as takes photos with 4096 × 3072 resolution in JPEG / RAW / DNG formats.
The quality of video is perfect as for a drone of such class, although we can’t say the same about the pictures it takes. Digital stabilization does its work perfectly, as well as the camera angle is wonderful – it films almost under itself though it has no carrier arm.
Parrot Bebop 2 battery is 3S 11.1В 2700mAh LiPo, unlike it was stated by the manufacturer instead of 25 minutes of flight endurance the device has demonstrated 40 minutes at medium wind with some gusts and with working camera (the battery charge was 100% at the beginning of the test and 5% at the end with a warning and automatic return of the device).
Parrot Bebop 2 control can be performed with a single device (IOS/Android) as well as together with a hi-tech remote control Parrot Black Skycontroller. The latter is expensive but more convenient and functional.
When the device is controlled with one gadget its flying range is up to 10 feet and once you join it with Parrot Black Skycontroller the flying range increases up to 1.24 miles. The remote control supports connection to FPV glasses tandem via HDMI port that is on the remote control. When using these devices together (the drone / a gadget /the remote control device /FPV glasses) the pilot gets the most full and unspeakable flying experiences.
Currently Parrot Black Skycontroller remote control is compatible with FPV-glasses made by «Sony FPV» and «Zeiss Cinemizer», but the manufacturer says that this list will be longer in future.

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Parrot Skycontroller remote control
25 minutes of flying time
Fish eye objective
Vertical filming
Design / modular design
Build quality / weight
Electronics performance
Positioning precision
Camera / stabilization
Flight duration
Automatic flight
Automatic flying-off/ landing
Safe and simple control
RTF


Price
Paid FreeFlight Pro service

It is a perfect drone for action-flights which gives a delightful experience when flying using the remote control device and FPV-glasses. Parrot Bebop 2 is very fast-moving which makes it so longed-for. It’s user friendly interface allows using the device from the very first time without training on simpler models to get the idea of how to fly a drone. We should mention that Bebop 2 is designed more for FPV flights, therefore you shouldn’t buy it if you are looking for a drone to perform high quality landscape recording.

Yuneec Q500 4K is DJI Phantom serious rival

A perfect drone for landscape quality filming. This device will do for experienced pilots or professional photographs. The drone set consists of the bestselling quadcopter Yuneec Typhoon Q500+ with 4К camera, that has lots of settings and it will satisfy even a professional camera operator. Then goes a remote control with an embedded 5.5-inch touchscreen, Steady Grip (a handler for stabilization when filming on the ground) and two powerful batteries 6300 mA·h, each of which provides quadcopter Yuneec Typhoon Q500+ with 25 minutes of flying time.
The complete set is put into a professional aluminum case that improves it transportability and allows getting the device ready to fly in several minutes.

CGO+ feature in Yuneec Typhoon Q500 quadcopter is that the camera is portable. Besides, you can put the camera on a light stand Steady Grip and record video without using the copter. Steady Grip has attachments for a smartphone, so you can broadcast video from the camera there – use mobile app CGO to do this.
Yuneec Typhoon Q500 with 4K camera is regarded as a serious competitor to the latest models of DJI Phantom quadcopters. We should mention that Yuneec Q500 Typhoon 4K is supplied in a complete package, which means that no further adjustments are required.
A scope of supply may vary from a “basic” set, that includes only the drone itself, a battery, a power supply, a remote control device and an external mounting for the camera, to the “complete” set. Yuneec Typhoon and the camera are sold in a one set with an aluminum case for them, where all necessary spare parts and expendables required for filming outside easily fit.

Q500 Typhoon is an ideal quadcopter for those, who want to buy a radio-controlled drone with a camera, charge a battery and start to fly and film video for Youtube at the same time. The thing is that all accessories needed to make the drone fly already come in its set. These are:
the camera, that can film 4K/30fps ultra high definition video, 1080p/120fps slow motion video
3-axis precision gimbal camera CGO2-GB
ground station ST10, that includes remote control with 5.5 inch touchscreen
2 batteries
SD card 8 Gb
Standard power supply and the one that can be used in the car
USB-cable
4 spare rotors
Detailed manual

According to its manual – having one fully charged 5400 mAh battery the drone can fly for 25 minutes maximum, under real-life conditions it is a bit less – about 21-22 minutes. It depends on how the drone is controlled, manipulation activity and weather. The battery charges completely in 2 hours. There is an adapter for power supply plug it in a car’s lighter socket, so you can be sure that filming outside can be easily performed.
Another thing is that it’s quite troublesome to take such an “expensive toy” with you when you go hiking for example – the quadcopter frame is — 16.5х16.5 cm and the device is 7.8 cm high. You can’t use it inside for sure, however outside a drone of such size is easier to be seen and controlled, besides it is much quieter than its smaller sized fellows (due to its rotors smaller diameter and lower engine rotational rate).
The drone flying range is about 2600 feet, height — 400 (by default), but you can adjust maximum height level yourself.

Q500 Typhoon is equipped with a compass and GPS unit as well as with a function of automatic return home (to the initial flying-off point). You can control the drone using 3 different modes (Smart, Angle and Home). The most advanced modes require GPS connection: they limit the flying speed, but make the control process much simpler. The most easy and rough control mode is a direct control – it requires only the compass calibration and after that the quadcopter can fly at overwhelming speed (up to 50-55 m/h), it completely responds the user, although in this case automatic position control, wind resistance and other cool stuff that semiautomatic modes can offer are out of question.
But the most amazing feature of this new copter is its ability to follow the user with a GPS PLB (personal locator beacon or a smartphone) at some distance and film this. Of course, there is a function to broadcast video from the camera directly to the remote control device screen.

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Modern futuristic design
High build quality, GoPRO friendly
It was specially designed for aerial photography, taking pictures and filming
The device control module has a FPV monitor
Up to 25 minutes of continuous flight duration
«Follow me» and «Watch me» functions
LED touchscreen 5.5 inch
Highly intelligent device (up to 16 route points with the possibility of filming in the center)
Fixation in the given point mode (the drone is anchored strongly even if the wind is strong)
CGO Steadygrip V3 comes in the set
GPS system works precisely
5.8GHz video broadcasting to the remote control device screen
Flying range is 2624 feet
A unique 3-axis motorized arm CGO2-GB, 5.5 inch LED touchscreen


The price, but if compared with the 3rd series Phantom drone, then Q500 Typhoon price is sufficiently lower
There are no sensors that would allow the device flying round any obstacles
The battery doesn’t display any info about its current charge level (it can be seen on the remote control screen only)

Perfect filming quality, package contents which are more than enough, the remote control of “all inclusive” type, which doesn’t require buying any tablet additionally or using a smartphone as a screen – are rather significant Typhoon 4k advantages.
3DR Solo — the best drone for GoPro using
3DR Solo is the first copter that provides direct control for Go Pro camera. The device allows streamed HD-video broadcasting right to your mobile device by means of a controller.
3DR company has been working side by side with GoPro, due to which Solo has full access to all camera settings. Now you can start and stop filming when you fly, you can choose images that you want to delete or save just during the flight – this reduces the number of needless shots.
One of the main 3DR Solo — is its open-source software that can be adjusted to your needs and requirements. Besides 3D Robotics are famous for their high quality technical support, that’s why if you:
live in the USA
can modify and adjust software and you know what for;
need a quality quadcopter where you can mount your camera.
In this case – don’t hesitate and buy this device. But if a word collocation “open source” means nothing to you, you don’t have a GoPro and a “gyropilot” drone function doesn’t make your heart beat faster – 3DR Solo Smart Drone can turn out to be just a very expensive toy for you.
Smart Drone resembles its predecessors IRIS+ and X8 in its appearance. The copter designers decided to create totally unique design and we can say for sure that they have reached their goal – the new drone looks like any other device.
One of the quadcopter design features is a room for its accessories made right in the drone. Therefore you can keep spare parts right inside the device saving the space in your bag or case.
When buying a quadcopter you get a standard set that consists of the following:
the copter itself
3-axis precision gimbal camera
4 rotors
a remote control device
a battery
a power supply
a set of cables
manuals
The camera is not foreseen by the package contents and it can be bought alone. Let me emphasize one more time, that Solo Drone is designed perfectly for GoPro 3 and GoPro 4.
These cameras are the ones that’ll provide the best experiences when flying the copter, since both stabilization technology, remote control device and software were made exactly for these cameras.
The copter has the newest gyropilot Pixhawk 2. This allows giving the device a necessary flying route in advance and take the required photos and record video during the flight. As for the other gyropilot functions we should mention its ability to fly around some object in 360 degrees path.

3DR Solo remote control has fixturing for mobile devices that work on iOS and Android. It also has a HDMI-port, so you will be able to observe the drone flight in the real time scale on any monitor or TV. The quadcopter set includes 5200mAh battery. If using a standard power supply it charges in 90-100 minutes, though this is enough for just 20 minutes of the drone flight with a motorized stabilizing arm and a camera installed (you may extend this time to 25 minutes without them).

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Possibility to install an arm for GoPro cameras
Has an embedded computer on board with 1 GHz processor and OS Linux
Broadcasts streamed HD-video right to your mobile device via controller
Design modularity
Flying characteristics
Gyrostabilized 3-axis motorized arm
Pixhawk 2
FPV
OS Linux (drone / remote control)
Unique programmed flying modes


Can’t fly around obstacles
Designed for only GoPro cameras
Has no camera in the set

Nowadays 3DR Solo Drone is one of the best designed quadcopters. It has strong carriers, its rotors are made from reinforced fiber-optic nylon – even in case of heavy landing the device is safe. The drone supports are arranged so that they protect the motorized arm ( and your GoPro camera), since they face the hit when the drone crashes.

Yuneec Typhoon H UHD 4K best aerial photography drone

This device with 6 rotors costs less than Phantom 4, at that it has all the functions of its main rival and even a few additional functions. Is this enough to compete with such bestsellers as P4 and 3DR Solo? Lets find out.

Hexacopter Yuneec Typhoon H is a ready-to-fly device (RTF) and belongs to «Smart Drons» market segment and it means that its user doesn’t have to have any experience in flying drones before. Yuneec Typhoon H hexacopter is made for taking highly intelligent and high quality professional photos and video recording.

Typhoon H is a hexacopter, i.e. it has 6 rotors instead of standard 4 ones at that it needs just 5 rotors to fly. In case if one of its rotors gets broken, the rest will be enough to continue flying. Typhoon H has become the 1st one in the product line of Yuneec Typhoon, that has 360 degrees rotating motorized arm for the camera. It sufficiently broadens the hexacopter functions. Its closest rival with a similar stabilizing technology is DJI Inspire, that costs twice as much.
Besides Yuneec Typhoon H has an embedded dodging system. While Phantom 4 relies on optical sensors, Yuneec hexacopter uses sonars that allows preventing crashes even in complete darkness. Though we have to mention that the sensors are placed on the drone front side and they can detect only the obstacles in front of them.

Another advantage of the device is a full set of off-line modes. All the modes that 3DR Solo and Phantom 4 have, Typhoon H has as well — Cable Cam, Orbit, Follow me and others. They let the user delegate them the device control and concentrate only on camera manipulating.
The drone control is performed by means of its own ground station ST16 that uses OS Android. Apart from analogue control the station allows its user to program an off-line mode flight, take cool pictures and record video. The station also has 7 inch HD touchscreen that displays basic telemetry probing during the flight as well as photo and video data in the real time scale. These are being broadcasted from the drone 4K camera installed on 3-axis gimbal.

Yuneec Typhoon H camera marked as CG03+ – is an upgraded version of CG03 camera that Typhoon Q500 4K drone has. It can film 4K video at 30 fps or 1080p at 60 fps. Unlike its predecessor CG03+ camera has larger matrix, faster processor and wider camera angle (115 degrees). This camera also can take pictures with 12 megapixel resolution and its objective is protected from optical distortions. Considering all these features of this new camera, GoPro camera can not be in the same league with it.

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High build and design quality
Self-sustainability, small size
Performance
Programmable modes
Intel RealSense / IPS (Optical Flow Sensor) – the device flies around obstacles of any size even at night
4К/HD filming quality, the camera pivots at 360º
Ability to connect to FPV headset
Doesn’t require any experience in drone flying and you can upgrade the drone with any additional equipment
The device supports raise up when it flies off
User-friendly remote control device
The price

The device design – eventually it becomes a bit cranky
Level of the device battery charge can be seen only on its ground set screen
Wizard remote and Backpack control device are missing from the Advanced set
The device set must include not less than 2 batteries
It is not adapted for GoPRO as it was done in the previous models
The battery recharge time. The full charging cycle takes about 2 hours

In compatison with its main rivals — DJI Phantom 4 and 3DR Solo — Yuneec Typhoon H copter wins on almost all parameters. Of course, the machine isn’t an ideal one, but its performance capabilities are just amazing. Keeping in mind Yuneec Typhoon H price, this hexacopter will be the best choice from those already existing nowadays drones with a camera onboard. The following advantages make it the best one — smart modes of free flight, dodging mode, the remote control device with an embedded touchscreen and even 4К-camera, that pivots at 360 degrees. So, if you are engaged in aerial photography and filming, you definitely should pay attention to this machine.

550

DJI Inspire 1 Pro the best 4K camera drone for professionals

One of the best products currently developed by Dji company designers is DJI Inspire 1 Pro/RAW (the latest drone model DJI Inspire 2 has just recently entered the market and it’s too early to provide any judgments about it). As for ordinary amateurs this drone will be too expensive and of little use. However, as for professional users – it’d be rather difficult to find the same high quality and attractively designed alternative to this device.

DJI Inspire 1 unique feature is that its carbon supports automatically move away and rotors supports rise up right after the drone flies off. As a result of this transforming design the device camera gets full unobstructed 360° view. Inspire 1 body is made of carbon fiber that makes it aerodynamic and light-weighted and allows carrying lots of useful and sophisticated devices on board.

DJI Inspire 1 Pro/RAW camera Zenmuse X5 that comes in the device set is of the highest interest. It weighs 18,55 unciae. Nevertheless, it hasn’t influenced flying quality and wind resistance of DJI Inspire 1 Pro/RAW.

The camera is supplied together with a carrier arm and it is packed in a plastic box. What is interesting about the camera is that it has an accessory lens unlike the camera that comes in a standard DJI Inspire 1 set.

Zenmuse X5 — is the first in the world Digital Interchangeable Lens camera with a stabilizing arm, designed specially for aerial photography and cinematography. Its arm supports installing one of the accessory lens: DJI MFT 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, Panasonic Lumix 15mm G Leica DG Summilux f/1.7 ASPH, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 and Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 lens.

The camera records video in 4K resolution at 30 fps in MP4 and MOV formats, as for the photos they are JPEG and DNG formats recorded on microSD. The camera has 16-megapixel matrix Micro 4/3 and it supports using accessory lenses. In addition to it the device can film at lack of light conditions due to the wide range of photo sensibility of its matrix (from 100 to 25600 ISO units).

The copter can build up speed up to 50 m/h. It is now possible due to well designed construction, heavy weight and the function the landing gear raising that lessens wind resistance during the flight. To avoid collisions with obstacles the drone is equipped with two ultrasound sonars and a technical camera.

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High quality 4K filming

Unobstructed 360-deg visibility of the device camera

Can be controlled by two pilots

Broadcasts FullHD-video at distance up to 2 km

Maximum flight speed is 50 m/h

Flying time is 18 minutes;

Flight level is 14763 feet

Control distance is 1,25 miles

Visual system of the device positioning to fly inside

Optical positioning system

System modularity: it’s possible to replace the camera and the carrying arm

Capable of flying in wind speed up to 19 m/h

«Smart» battery

Unique attractive design

Just its high price

DJI Inspire 1 — is a quadcopter for professionals. Its price reflects its functional capabilities. Its high-output camera capable of filming 4K video and a motorized arm that makes 360 degrees turnaround possible and ensures getting quite high quality video. On the other hand Inspire 1 price may easily push off the buyers. But on the second thought a high quality video can be recorded at 1920×1080 resolution and you can construct a copter on your own for your purposes and for the same price.

DJI Phantom 3: best drone under 500$

DJI Phantom 3 Standard is the most affordable quadcopter with an intelligent stabilization and control system, equipped with a fantastic camera capable of recording 2.7K HD video and 12-megapixel photos. The device has everything that both an entry-level and a professional pilot may need. It has a user-friendly smartphone app that eases the device control, GPS unit for safe flights and getting back home, reliable brushless motors and lots of other stuff.

DJI Phantom 3 isn’t just a toy, but a full-fledged copter capable of filming and taking pictures. This machine can bring you joy and amusement: you’ll see your city from a bird’s eye view as well as all hard-to-reach areas and feel yourself a real pilot by performing complicated pilotage. DJI quadcopters are considered by right to be the best on the market – their earlier models have no rivals within these price brackets as for flying characteristics and software options. As for Phantom 3 Professional – this model is designed for true professionals who know for sure why they need advanced filming capabilities.

The 3rd series of «Phantoms» has three versions of quadcopters – Professional, Advanced and Standard. It’s almost impossible to see who is who by their appearance, that’s why the manufacturer has foreseen colored stickers put on a device body. Standard version has red ones, Advanced – silvery, Professional – golden colored stickers. As for their functional differences – these are rather significant.

Standard drone version differs from the others in that “remote control device-smartphone” and “remote control device-quadcopter” data exchange is performed via “wi-fi”. «LightBridge» function is missing and as a result communication distance reduces (1640-3200 feet) and the recorded video quality is getting low.

No GLONASS support in its turn worsens the quadcopter positioning as well as its flying accuracy for long distances (up to 3 miles). There is no «Vision» function, that helps piloting the drone. The camera is different, too. In «Standard» and «Advanced» versions it records video at 2.7К and 30 fps. On the remote control device there are no buttons for photo and video filming, «Playback» button is missing too, as well as buttons for exposition and camera angle change.

Advanced drone version is very reverse of «Standard» one. «Advanced» is equipped with the following functions: «LightBridge», GLONASS (at least 36 satellites at the same time) and the above mentioned «Vision» function. The camera was left the same. Buttons for photo and video filming, «Playback» button and scroll to change the exposition and camera angle were added to the remote control device panel. Additionally the manufacturer has foreseen 2 more buttons, action for which the user can choose himself according to his personal preferences.

Professional drone version is the bestselling one and the only thing that differs it from «Advanced» version is its camera. Here the manufacturer put the camera capable of filming 4K video at 30 fps.

DJI Phantom 3 general flight duration is 23 minutes. The information about the flight duration time stated in the manual coincides with the real life tests values – the new drone demonstrates approximately the same flight time duration that is indicated in its manual.

Professional version copter flying range is 1,24 miles with simultaneous HD video broadcasting (in the area where there are no obstacles). Hovering ceiling is up to 1650 feet, by default it is limited with 330 feet. The device memory has records about the places where it is prohibited to fly – airports, governmental institutions and others – this list is continuously renewed.

The drone take-off speed is up to 16 feet per second, it lands at 10 feet per second speed, its maximal speed is 53 feet per second! It is a very fast device, that can fly rather far. So you may see a landscape view for miles around which is very beautiful.

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Intelligent stabilization and control system

HD camera

GPS unit

Ready-to-fly device

User-friendly control

Design

Significant flying range

Flying modes

Controllability

Responsiveness

Flying time

3-axis motorized stabilization arm

OnLine video broadcasting to YouTube

Data exchange between the drone and remote control device via Wi-Fi (for Advanced version)

Little operability of the remote control device (for Advanced)

No HDMI switch

Can’t be modified

DJI Phantom 4 Professional a step into the future

DJI Phantom 4 is the 4th generation of DJI quadcopters. It differs from the previous models in improved FullHD camera video quality at 1080p, higher flying speed, the battery capacity and a new sensors system which consists of 2 very sensitive sensors scanning the surrounding area in the range from 0,7 to 15 meters. Due to this the device collision possibility with any obstacles is close to zero, since mostly the crashes are the reason why the device breaks down.

We should also mention, that the developers have upgraded this model by adding 3-axis carrying arm with a remote control unit, due to which you get very sharp and accurate image without any trembling or vibrations even if the weather is windy or if the filming is performed at high speed.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro quadcopter continues the product line and it was sufficiently upgraded in comparison with DJI Phantom 3 drone. The new device flying range is 4.35 miles, its flying velocity reaches 45 mies per hour and the flight duration is 30 minutes.

If you compare this model with its predecessor DJI Phantom 3 Professional we can notice completely redesigned body with a gravity center shifted closer to rotors. Due to this the drone manoeuvre capability and control responsibility has increased greatly. Now to install rotors you don’t have to screw them, it is enough just to put them on until you hear a specific click. As for the drone appearance design – there are no significant changes except for its surface now has pretty nice looking gloss coating.

The company has been working to upgrade forward-collision sensing system – so the new drone “sees” obstacles at 100 feet distance in front of it, behind and under it. Earlier models could broadcast the camera data only to a tablet or smartphone, now the device set has its own 5.5 inch tablet, which is another plus of the latest drone model.

Among the introduced improvements the main one is the increased flying time. Now, according to the manufacturer’s information, it is equal to 30 minutes. This value was obtained due to several tricks. One of which is the battery replacement with a new one of 5870 mA/h. Thanks to the improved communications system using branded Lightbridge HD technology the machine flying range has increased as well and now it equals 4.35 miles.

As for the drone structural parts, we should mention how its camera has changed. This is an absolutely new model that has much more capabilities. They include photo-balance, color correction and image stabilization. These improvements were reached due to using a larger sensor which square is 1 inch and 20 megapixel matrix. A sensor named Exmor-R also used in Sony professional cameras is responsible for the camera optics dynamic range and photosensitivity.

The user still can vary video recording bit rate, at that capturing at 30 or 60 fps is performed at 100 Mb/s and 120 fps at 80 Mb/s speed.

В Phantom 4 Pro now has new “smart” modes. The drone can get back home using the same route that it was flying till the connection was lost. Also the user can draw the drone route with his finger on a touchscreen. There are new possibilities of an object beacon tracking, the device can automatically fly backwards from the given point as well as taking selfies by means of gestures as it is done by Mavic Pro copter.

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Intelligent stabilization and control system

Flying characteristics

Stand-alone self-sufficiency

LightBridge HD

Camera / carrying arm / codec H.265

Mechanical shutter

Flying range up to 4.35 miles

Video bit rate up to 100Mbps

Flying time

The price

Phantom 4 capability to provide high quality filming and photos from any camera angle has captured journalists, professional camera men and amateurs attention right away. You can enjoy the drone smooth flight for a long time and your neighbors and friends will envy you, especially when you show them videos and pictures when the machine gets back.

This advanced model is ideal for young men and for filming extreme sports, trips and activity holidays.

DJI Mavic Pro – the best portable drone with camera.

DJI Mavic Pro is the best quadcopter in 2017 that can be bought for 1000 $. Mavic not only leaves Phantom 4 behind as for the price and flying speed, it also has several flying modes, longer flying range and pocket design. Mavic Pro is second to none among all portable quadcopters.

First of all we should mention the drone size. Even in comparison with Phantom series of the same manufacturer the device is rather small. The extended device size is 88х83х198 mm and in a stowed position it is even smaller. The machine weigh is quite small as well and it equals 26,21 unciae.

However, what is the most interesting about Mavic Pro is that regardless its smaller size, DJI has managed to save all key functions of Phantom series. The buyer gets a complete set of front and bottom sensors that allow avoiding collisions, tracing objects, off-line landing and preserving the device stability inside without any signal from a satellite.

The device set has a 4K camera like the one that is installed on the latest Phantom 4 drone. The camera has a stabilization system by means of miniature carrier arm Mavic, that stabilizes a frame along 2 axis. The camera uses the same 1/2,3″ CMOS-sensor as Phantom 4, it can film 4K-video at 30 fps and videos 1080p at 96 fps. Sure, it is possible to take 12-megapixel pictures in Adobe DNG format. The camera angle has become a bit smaller: 78 degrees against 94 degrees of Phantom 4 camera angle. At that the camera has higher-aperture lens: f/2,2 against f/2,8 that Phantom 4 has. Mavic Pro has 3-axis precision gimbal camera just like other bestselling drones.

The most interesting is that Mavic Pro is to some extent better than Phantom 4. For example, it can transmit video signals at 4.35 miles distance (Phantom 4 has 3 miles distance) through the new branded wireless communication interface OcuSync. The system also broadcasts video 1080p ( Phantom 4 has 720 p), which lets control the flight better and make higher-quality on-line video broadcasting throgh YouTube, Periscope and Facebook.

The drone itself isn’t the only innovation. The remote control device has also been improved – now it’s much smaller and resembles a game pad. At that it now has an LCD screen that displays all main info such as height, speed, distance and orientation. Thus if you don’t need some extended device features and on-line broadcasting to the screen it’s possible to fly without a plugged in smartphone ( by the way this feature now doesn’t require a cable).

Mavic Pro is capable of accelerating to a speed of 40 m/h. Approximate flying time is 27 minutes in off-line mode. The batteries are replaceable, and additional battery costs — $89. If you wish you can buy DJI Mavic Pro Bundle for $1299. This set includes the drone itself, two batteries, several rotors, a special case, a charging station.

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Reliability

Fold design

Video broadcasting up to 4.35 miles

Record flying range

4K-camera with physical stabilization

Reasonable price

Small sized in stowed position

Small remote control device

Stabilization

Self-sustainability

Can be controlled by means of gestures

A beacon tracing mode

Narrow camera angle

Poor package contents

The best drones for the beginners – entry-level pilots

Mini-drones are smaller than a palm and they are to be used only inside, since even the lightest wing can carry the device far away. Such drones offer 2-3 flying modes: the easiest one makes the device highly control response – because it stabilizes itself and doesn’t fall down this way neutralizing operator errors. If you turn of the support system the drone becomes more maneuverable and faster, that’s why experienced pilots can even do some tricks with it. The largest drawback of these devices is their battery: as a rule mini-copters battery store of energy is enough only for 3-5 minutes and then the device has to spend about 30 minutes charging its battery.

First you have to make up your mind as for the drone size. To learn flying an average sized (about 10 inches) quadcopter will do, because you can use it even at home as well as outside. When you are not limited with the space sizes you can fly more hours.

Using such a device you can easily learn both piloting basics and more complicated manipulation and even some tricks. Although drone models in these price brackets have no hi-tech sensors, but some of them may have a camera on board. However, such a camera might be of very little use since its resolution is more likely to be very low and because of stabilization system absence the images the camera takes may be blurred.

In this case Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 and its modifications are the best and optimal choice. It is strong and not expensive quadcopter of proper size and it is also highly crashproof.

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 – a perfect drone for the beginners

This is a new modification of a popular AR.Drone quadcopter. AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition has two pairs of rotors. The device can be controlled via iPhone, iPad or iPod touch connected to the gadget by means of Wi-Fi. The quadcopter has two cameras – one is in the bottom and it follows the flying process as well as transmits the route information to the computer. The second camera broadcasts video from the “pilot’s cabin” to a mobile device in the real time scale.

So what are AR.Drone 2.0 features? Firstly, it is its HD-camera 720p in the real time scale. Secondly, the user finally has an ability to record live video feed for free from AR.Drone 2.0 camera. Thirdly, the developers have added a new function for the drone to wing over at 180 degrees along its axis. Of course, the design was renewed too – now this toy looks like a real spaceship. It became more stylish with easier and more sufficient control. The tear-drop body has better aerodynamic properties that improve AR.Drone control outside. It is simple as usual – even a kid can get the idea in 5 minutes. The batteries of the 1st version devices are compatible with the new AR.Drone 2.0, which is very convenient.

Nowadays AR.Drone 2.0 is one of the most popular drones for amateurs on the market. The 1st version of the device appeared long ago in 2010 and the 2nd version was produced in 2012 and still it is highly demanded. So where did this popularity of Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 come from? Well, it is plain and simple – the device is dynamic, comparatively not expensive and easy-to-use: it doesn’t require any special skills and assembling.

AR.Drone 2.0 is sold in three sets: Classic, Elite Edition and Power Edition. They differ in their starting set components. At that the price range is about 30%. We’d recommend to choose Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition. This version differs from the previous ones in that instead of one 1000mAh battery, it has two 1500mAh, plus three sets of color rotors.

The drone camera can film video at 720p (30 fps and H264) and take pictures, however, they both turn out to be not of the best quality. The video is recorded onto embedded 4 GB SD card, but you can connect an external flash drive to the drone and perform the recording on it. As for the photos they are transmitted to a tablet or a smartphone where they are stored in JPEG format.

The quadcopter control is performed via special application AR.FreeFlight, that can be installed on a tablet or a smartphone that use iOS or Android. By the way you can fly Ar.Drone 2.0 not only by means of above mentioned devices, since others are also supported, but you will have to buy them on your own.

Among the quadcopter advantages except its simplicity we should also mention its sufficiently high flight level (about 50 feet), rather long flight duration and it is possible to improve the device flying range. Those who have GoPro also like installing it on the drone, though it isn’t meant for this, it flies off and even flies successfully with such load on board.

But there are no ideal copters and AR.Drone 2.0 has its drawbacks as well, and under some circumstances they may completely cross out all its advantages.

So there are two main disadvantages: the device has rather low wind resistance and very fragile design – you should avoid any collisions since it may break down.

In general Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is a perfect option for those who want a radio-controlled toy capable of flying about several dozen meters high and simultaneous video filming.

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Equipped with HD-camera, that can broadcast 720p video to iPhone, iPad or Android-device

3-axis gyroscope with a rotational angle 2000 degrees/sec

Easy to control and adjust

Flies quite high – at least 500 feet high

It has a camera and supports FPV

Rather long flight duration with batteries of 1500 mAh capacity and more

It is possible to mount an action-camera (for example, GoPro 4) on the quadcopter by means of a scotch tape or something else at that the device will still fly

It is possible to increase the flying range using some additional accessories

Quite short initial flying range — just 330 feet

Low quality camera

Low wind resistance — at wind speed of 3-4 m/s the quadcopter is carried away from the given route

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 – is an easy to use hi-tech toy for an ordinary user. Despite the fact that its price may seem high, this is the most affordable model of this class on the market. This quadcopter advantages are the following: quality of execution, package contents, serviceability standards, simplicity of operation, Android and iOS compatibility.

UDI U818A: a quadcopter with a camera for 60 dollars

It’s a UFO with a camera. This is a very funny, fast and spry drone. It can easily fly in the smallest room. The device construction is very light, the rotors are protected with round covers and they are of different colors. This way you can see between the device front and back side. It is capable of all maneuvers that other larger models can do, but it performs them faster and it looks much more interesting. Rotor consoles are made of carbon and it sufficiently increases the device endurance in general.

Cheap amateur radio-controlled quadcopters that cost less than 100 dollars gain more and more popularity nowadays. This is perfect chance for some new company on the market to announce about its brand and product. Exactly what UDI company has done when it produced its stylish radio-controlled quadcopter U818A.

The device construction is based on 6-axis gyroscope. This quadcopter is completely ready to fly right after it was taken from the packaging and it doesn’t need any additional preparations. All you need it just to put the batteries into all devices and you can start to fly. Before this an automatic synchronization of the devices is performed and it finishes with a sound signal.

UDI U818A body is made of plastic, its is dismountable with an embedded proofing. At that the device control is quite smooth and responsive. The drone maximum speed outside is 5.8 m/h.

Having a full battery a quadcopter can fly for about 7-9 minutes. Actually this is a very good result for a copter with a price around 60 dollars. But still we’d recommend to buy at least 1 spare battery (it costs about 10-15 dollars) not to wait for an hour or more till the only battery charges.

An embedded camera comes in a set, it feeds from the shared battery. It can film video and photo of low resolution 640×480. You won’t get FPV using a standard remote control device, but the drone itself has such a possibility. Photo and video recording is run from the remote control and saved onto SD memory card. In general you can get about 10 minutes of video record.

The remote control is a 4-channel one and it operates on a frequency of 2.4Ghz. The device is convenient, it has a screen and besides standard flying mode switches (mode 1 to Mode 2) it has a special button that makes the copter flip-over 360 degrees when it is in the air. The same can be done without using this button, but you’ll have to be an experienced pilot to do that.

The set that costs 60-80 USD even has 1 GB SD memory card, a kit of white and black spare rotors to get where is back and front side of the drone and what is the most important – a li-polymer battery as well as a USB power supply for it come in the set.

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R/C UFO design

Modular-type construction

Crashworthiness

6-axis gyroscope

Operates on a frequency of 2.4Ghz

LED tap lights

RTF device

The camera

Low flying range

Short flight duration

We can say for sure that UDI U818A is one of the most affordable quadcopters with a camera nowadays: it is cheap, but at the same time not small sized, it has quite good battery and the device is well adapted for flying outside.

Udi U818A quadcopter is worth each dollar spent on it. It will surely do as the first experience quadcopter or as a device for landscape filming fan providing that the drone is upgraded with a higher quality camera capable of FPV broadcasting.

Hubsan X4 H107L – a drone for beginners and entertainment

Hubsan X4 H107L is a well-proven amateurs quadcopter without a camera produced by Chinese company Hubsan. It is a global bestseller, mini-copter Hubsan X4, a version with a blade guards. It perfectly flies both inside and outside. Due to the well-designed construction, high-quality materials and light weight Hubsan X4 H107C easily survives most of crashes and collisions.

Hubsan X4 H107L quadcopter was produced in summer 2013, but it is still rather highly demanded. Which is no surprise – the device is simple and rather reliable, it can fly up to 7-9 minutes and about 330 feet high. Moreover it can carry some additional loads ( you can buy a camera for 10-20 USD if you want) and perform some tricks in the air. The device control is executed via the remote control device, that operates on a frequency of 2.4Ghz and uses standard AA batteries. Its operational distance is about 330 feet (plus or minus 30 feet).

This drone model is so popular, that several similar models were produced, that differ just in some details. Lets have a closer look at them.

Hubsan X4 H107 is the very first version. It has no tap lights and no pads under rotors, and its remote control device has a long external antenna. These copters aren’t sold now.

Hubsan X4 H107L is an upgraded model, due to which it was first called Hubsan X4 H107 v2. Quite a lot of changes were introduced: tap lights, rubber dumpers to soften the device landing, antiflip mode and improved distance range as well as a remote control device (according to the official statement the range has changed from 100 to 330 feet).

Hubsan X4 (H107C) 4 Channel it is the same as the previous model, but it has 0,3MP camera. However, the camera has just increased the quadcopter weight, that’s why this model has more powerful rotors (as a result the drone control has also improved) and a higher capacity battery.

Hubsan X4 H107C HD 2MP with 2MP camera. Again it is similar to the previous model but with higher resolution camera.

Hubsan H107D+ FPV X4 this is a model capable of FPV flying. That is, the device camera in the real time scale broadcasts video to the remote control screen and you fly seeing the first person view.

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Highly stable quadcopter

Holds the height

Quiet functioning

DeviationTX compatibile

Capable of flying at night

Sticks sensibility can be adjusted

Just 4-5 minutes of flight time

Fragile rotors

New devices protocol isn’t compatible with the previous models

MicroSD and blade guards are missing in the set

If the device loses the signal it may fly away

Well, if you are looking for your first quadcopter, than Hubsan X4 H107D+ is a very interesting and innovative choice.

Hubsan X4 H107L is a perfect option for those who want to have a small sized radio-controlled toy with 4 rotors that is capable of flying 330 feet high.

Syma X5C-1 a cheap drone model for the first flying experience

Syma X5c quadcopter is a very strong and modern model with an embedded HD-camera. This quadcopter is quite easy to control and it’ll let you take amazing pictures and record video while flying. The drone model is applicable both in- and outside. Renewed Syma X5c-1 is developed specially for entry-level pilots. All its units and electronic devices are protected by the drone body sheathed with soft and crash-proof plastic. And once you have blade guards, you shouldn’t be afraid of any crashes or collisions.

If you don’t have much money, but you still want to fly a quadcopter you should choose a model that is good to practice your flying skills. One of the devices that meets this requirement is an upgraded Syma X5C – 1 model. X5C-1 drone is an improved X5C version, that is also very popular and has gained a reputation among radio-controlled quadcopter fans.

The main difference is that a new version has an upgraded gyroscope and due to this it is more stable.

X5C Explorers stabilization system is constructed on th basis of 6-axis gyroscope. It allows not only to perform standard among all copter movements to the left and right, up and down, but also 360 degrees turnaround.

Those who have flown X5C, mention its manoeuvring ability. So if you are looking for a cheap radio-controlled drone with a camera – you won’t find a better option than Syma X5C.

As for the flying range – it isn’t large – just up to 330 feet of active remote control. The flying time is within 6 minutes (plus of minus 20%). During the flight the device camera not only makes the construction heavier, but it also consumes energy from Syma X5C battery. That’s why to get maximum long flying time and astonishing photos we’d advise you to buy some more spare batteries. Syma X5C battery gets fully charged in 1- 1.5 hours. You should take this fact into consideration both before buying this drone and going to train your flying skills.

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Brushless motors

6-axis gyroscope

Blade guards

Maneuverability

The device body reliability

Radio frequency 2.4 Ghz

Capable of turnaround

The remote control device comes in the set

Low capacity battery, since 5-7 minutes aren’t enough to enjoy the flight

Battery charging time is 100 minutes

No Headless Mode

2 MP camera

Blades gear-wheels aren’t closed from mud

Motors short life

Syma X5C-1 quadcopter is a strong and fast-moving drone model in its class of budget priced drones and it’ll do solely to get your first flying experience. It’s not reasonable to expect more from this device, since it is completely worth each dollar paid for it.