An Insight on The Best Drones of 2017
With the advent of technology, Drones have become the in-thing. Whether you love them or hate them, they are here to stay forever. Here’s a list of the best drones of 2017, so read till the end.
Drones are really cool and even if you don’t have a good reason to buy one, you can still get fascinated by the images clicked by this amazing device. Have you ever thought about buying one but were deterred from getting your hand on one after knowing its cost? If you answer yes, then there is some good news for all the gadget freaks. The drone technology has come a long way since the beginning and now there are some amazing models available in the market that put the previous drones to shame.
However, there’s some bad news too. You get what you pay for. In other terms, if you are investing less amount of money, you will not be able to capture stunning footage which can only be accessed after paying a hefty amount. Drones are pricey possession; therefore, it is important to do your research well before buying one. We have tested a number of ready-to-fly models available in the market to help you get your hands on the best drone.
Price Matters a Lot
There are some low-cost drones available in the market, but you still need to spend almost $500 to get your hands on a solid model that comes with a high-quality integrated camera and flight stability. The DJI Phantom 3 Standard fits the bill as it is one of the well-known drones that come with an excellent integrated camera. It captures 2.7K video which is similar to the quality offered by pricier Phantom 3 Advanced. Moreover, you can also get your hands on the Xiro Xplorer V for $500, but its 1080p camera is not as great and it leaves a lot to be desired as compared to the amazing features of Phantom.
Still, if you want to spend less amount of money, go in with the Parrot Bebop. This sells at around $350 and thus is a good choice. However, it comes with its set of limitations as it is not a fast flyer, cannot fly high enough and more, but it can still perform rolls and flips. If you are not ready to put in a lot of money on Bebop configuration skycontroller remote, you need to fly it with your smartphone or tablet. But at the combined price, you can get your hands on a high configuration drone.
The Bebop 2 is also available in the market and it comes with a tablet and skycontroller configurations; however, it sells for significantly more. The Bebop 2 costs $550 by itself and $800 when bought in combination with skycontroller.
The drones reviewed in this write-out are ready-to-fly models. Thus they can be used straight out of the box. In a majority of cases, you need to bring in your own iOS or android device to view the camera feed in real time. We have reviewed few models, such as Blade Chroma, Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K, and Typhoon G that have Android tablet built into its control. We are not covering the true pro models that require a person to get out the soldering iron and install flight controls.
Regulation and Safety
All of the drone models featured in this write up come loaded with safety features. Even the Bebop which has not been designed for long-distance flights come packed with GPS and automatic return-to-home function. If the battery gets too low or if the control signals are interrupted, the drone will easily reach back to the starting point and land.
However, if you are concerned about losing your drone, you can include a GPS system. The Flytrex Live 3G can be used with a number of popular models to locate the drone. It is connected via a 3G cellular connection and constantly sends location data to the cloud. Flyways do happen and there are a large number of horror stories on different discussion forums. Negative experiences are amplified because uneventful flights don’t always result in a crash or missing drones are not the hot topics.
If you are flying a drone within the United States, you need to pay attention to the FAA guideline. If you do not adhere to the guidelines, be prepared to face a potential fine. There are some no-fly-zones set by the FAA, for instance, an airport. Don’t take off your drone near an airport without getting in touch with the control tower. Even if you are in the middle of nowhere, don’t fly your drone higher than 400 feet. While a majority of drones are set to obey all the regulations, handling a drone is like driving a car. Even if you miss seeing the speed limit sign, you are required to pay for the ticket.
So before you plan to buy a drone, make sure you go through the FAA guidelines. If you are purchasing a drone that weighs more than half a pound, you are required to register with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Racing and Toy Quadcopters
There are a variety of products available in the market that can’t be categorized in the category of drones. Remote controlled aircraft have been around for ages but with the increasing popularity of drones, quadcopters that were previously sold as PC products are now being tagged as drones. These quadcopters don’t include return-to-home functionality, GPS system and various other features that make a drone a drone.
We have reviewed a handful of these toys to make it easy for you to reach a decision. If you are interested in buying a quadcopter, you can shop Horizon Hobby Blade Nano QX2 FPV BNF available at £124.99 or you can even shop for Aerius.
DJI models currently dominate our top pick and we have a valid reason behind it. The company is few steps ahead of its competitors and has a product that catalog with different models available at a variety of price point. A huge improvement has been made in the older Phantom 2 Vision+ with the launch of Phantom 3 Line. There’s improvement in flight stability, video quality and ease of use.
Moreover, the Phantom 4 is the first drone to get a 5-star rating from us. The editor’s choice honor goes to the Phantom 2 when we have reviewed it, but with the improved models offering vast improvement, our customers are not recommended to shop the aging quadcopter at this point of time. But Phantom 4 is on the pricier side thus shoppers still love to get their hands on the not so pricey Phantom 3 series. If you are planning to buy a drone, you can shop for the Phantom 3 4K which uses the same Wi-Fi control system but comes with a video resolution of 4K.
Also selling at the same price range is the Phantom 3 Advance that records at up to 2.7K but offers the same rock-solid Lightbridge streaming and control system found on the Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 4.
DJI Inspire 1 is another editor’s choice winner. It has been designed for serious use than Phantom models. The carbon fiber construction, dual-operator control, and camera that can easily swing into any direction are some of the features that set it apart from other models. The DJI Inspire 1 includes a 4K camera that matches Phantom 3 quality and sells for $2900 with single remote control and for $3300 for dual operator version.
Small and Big Drones
For the longest time, DJI Phantom series was all about as small as you can go. They had designed drones that were small in size but had all the amazing features. They also include the strongest safety features. However, that’s changing now! The first small drone we have reviewed is the Xiro Xplorer V and it was little rough around the edges.
The more recent model of drone including the Vantage Robotics Snap and DJI’s incredibly tiny Mavic Pro has taken things a step further. The Vantage Robotics Snap uses magnets to attach the main chassis with folding propellers. Thus it is easy to break down and transport to another place. On the other hand, the Mavic Pro comes with rotor arms that can be easily folded into the body. It can easily be tossed into a small bag pack. The Parrot Bebop series is another drone that fits into the small category. Bebop has still been included in our list because of its attractive selling price.
DJ’s faces major competition from Yuneec in the consumer market. The Typhoon series including the Q500 4K has gained traction with many pilots. We have found Q500 to be a little rough around the edges, however, its successor looks promising. The Typhoon H is Yuneec’s only current entry in our top list of drones.
The Typhoon H is a six-rotor model that can keep flying even if it loses a propeller or engine. You can get your hands on this amazing drone only at $1299 for the standard version or for $1899 for a more advanced system powered by Intel’s RealSense tech.
The Karma drone was launched by GoPro in late 2016, however, the company was quick to pull it from the market. Thinking about the reason? Well, Karma drones were falling from the sky due to mid-flight power loss. This shows that making a reliable, safe drone is not an easy task, not for a seasoned hardware manufacturer.
Another player in the US market is the Autel Robotics. Its line of X-star drones which looks similar to DJI Phantoms, which have been painted orange in color. We have still not reviewed this model but they are often compared with DJI models based on their price.
3D Robotics, which were popular because of their single drone has reportedly cut back on their staff and are now concentrating on the corporate market. That’s a shame because solo delivers a large number of innovative features and is often seen as the first choice for GoPro action cam users. The Solo is also an attractive option because of its current bargain-rate pricing, however, we will still think twice before buying one! We doubt that you will be able to get your hands on the battery in the near future and thus Phantom 3 Standard is a better option for all those looking for a competitive pricing drone.
The DJI Inspire 2 model targets the professional cinematographers, independent filmmakers, and news organizers. And talking about its price, it is priced at $3000 and does not include the camera. You can add a 1-inch sensor fixed lens camera or even opt for a Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens model, both supports 5.2K video capture when paired with Inspire 2. The fully equipped Inspire 2 sells at around $6200 – A configuration we are in the process of reviewing.
Yuneec has come up with a model equipped with a Micro Four Thirds Camera. The Tornado H920 is a huge drone that comes with 6 rotors and has enough room to hold three batteries. It can be flown for 42 minutes constantly. The CG04 camera is essentially a customized version of the Panasonic GH4. It does not record uncompressed videos like its competitors but with a price tag of $4999, it is few dollars less expensive.
You can never go wrong with any of the below-listed models. Read on to know more about the latest drone ruling the market.
|Name||DJI Phantom 4||DJI Inspire 1||DJI Phantom 3 Professional||DJI Phantom 4 Pro||DJI Mavic Pro||Parrot Bebop 2 FPV||Parrot Disco FPV|
|Dimensions||7 x 11.5 x 11.5 inches||17.2 x 17.8 x 11.9 inches||8 x 13.8 x 13.8 inches||7 x 11.5 x 11.6 inches||3.3 x 3.3 x 7.8 inches||3.5 x 12.9 x 12.9 inches||4.7 x 45.2 x 22.8 inches|
|Weight||3 lb||6.5 lb||2.8 lb||3.1 lb||1.6 lb||1.1 lb||1.7 lb|
|Number of Rotors||4||4||4||4||4||4||1|
|Camera Type||Integrated with Gimbal||Integrated with Gimbal||Integrated with Gimbal||Integrated with Gimbal||Integrated with Gimbal||Integrated with Gimbal||Integrated without Gimbal|
|Video Resolution||720p, 1080p, 4K, 2.7K||720p, 1080p, 4K||720p, 1080p, 4K||720p, 1080p, 4K, 2.7K||720p, 1080p, 4K, 2.7K||1080p||720p, 1080p|
|Megapixels||12 MP||12 MP||12 MP||20 MP||12 MP||12.5 MP||15 MP|
|Media Format||microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC||microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC||microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC||microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC||microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC||microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC||Internal|
|Remote Control Type||Dedicated with App||Dedicated with App||Dedicated with App||Dedicated with App||Dedicated with App||Dedicated with App||Dedicated with App|
|Live Video Feed||720p||720p||720p||1080p||720p||Yes||720p|
|Automated Flight Features||Return-to-Home, Orbit, Waypoint, Follow||Return-to-Home, Orbit, Waypoint||Return-to-Home, Orbit, Waypoint, Follow||Return-to-Home, Orbit, Waypoint, Follow||Return-to-Home, Orbit, Waypoint, Follow||Return-to-Home, Follow||Return-to-Home, Orbit|
|See the product||SEE IT||SEE IT||SEE IT||SEE IT||SEE IT||SEE IT||SEE IT|
The DJI Phantom 4 has maintained its dominance as the leader in the consumer market. With a price tag of $1399, the company has redefined the iconic design and included a more streamlined chassis. The Phantom 4 is highly functional and surprisingly compact. It has a handle to carry and a latch to keep it close. It’s easier to transport the Phantom with its propellers detached and installing them is a simple matter. To fly it, you can delve into an automatic mode or fly in a traditional maker.
• Easy to fly
• Extremely stable
• High-speed Sport mode
• Obstacle avoidance
• Raw and JPG still capture
• Automated flight modes
• Smooth 4K video capture
• 20mm wide-angle lens
• Subject recognition and tracking
• Return-to-home and other safety features
• Incredible operating range with 720p Live View
• High Priced
• True mission planning requires third-party app
DJI Phantom 4 is a high-end drone that has come a long way since its inception. However, it is priced on the higher side which makes it less popular.
DJI Inspire 1 is not a toy. This is a well-crafted piece of hardware built for the long run. It features an upgradable 4K camera which can easily be removed and used to record handheld videos. This is the best option for aerial videographers who want to get amazing aerial views. The black airframe is constructed out of carbon fiber long with some metal components. It comes in a hard storing case which also doubles as a storage case.
• Very fast
• 4K video recording
• Includes carrying case
• Excellent operating range
• 360-degree camera rotation
• Removable, upgradeable camera
• Superb carbon fiber build quality
• Vision Positioning System for indoor flight
• Separate flight and camera control possible
• Roughly 15-minute flight time per charge with standard battery
DJI Inspire 1 is a drone that delivers a pro-grade built equipped with an upgradable camera. It supports dual operator and can easily be operated with an accessible remote.
DJI Phantom 3 Professional is one of the most popular drones and is here to stay. Nowadays drones are selling like a hot cake and DJI Phantom 3 Professional represents the culture in the best manner. Priced at $1259, it flies through the air via an easy-to-use remote control and easily records 4K footage. You need to pick up a transport bag as it is necessary for pain-free and hassle-free traveling.
• Easy to fly
• Built-in GPS
• Very stable in the air
• Raw and JPG still capture
• Automated flight modes
• Smooth video capture, even during motion
• Return-to-home function
• 20mm wide-angle lens
• High-quality Live View feed
• Battery life limits flying time
• Wide-angle lens shows some edge distortion
DJI Phantom 3 Professional delivers a refined flying experience and offers superior video quality. It has truly earned the Editor’s choice honor for itself.
DJI has always pushed its capability forward and with the launch of DJI Phantom 4 Pro, it is only working toward gaining more customers. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro captures amazing pictures and shoots 20 MP RAW and JPG pictures. Its body is identical to its predecessor and measures 7.0 by 11.5 by 11.5 inches. However, before flying it, you need to take permission from FAA. It is the first drone that comes equipped with forward-facing obstacle avoidance sensors. To take advantage of the obstacle recognition, you need to fly it in beginner mode.
• 4K video
• 20MP still images
• All new 1-inch sensor camera
• Four-way obstacle avoidance
• High-quality Lightbridge video feed
• Remote control with integrated tablet
• More capable drones available
DJI Phantom 4 Pro comes with a vastly improved camera and adds additional obstacle sensor to improve its already popular product.
DJI Mavic Pro is the smallest-camera equipped quadcopter up in the line of best drones. It is the only one drone in the industry that combines automated flight mode, high performance, and obstacle avoidance. The propeller arms and the props of DJI Mavic Pro fold up, thus there is no need to remove them when traveling. It comes in a small packaging which is smaller than a shoe box because it is far smaller than its competitors.
• 23-minute flight time
• Small, foldable design
• 12MP Raw and JPG stills
• Strong operating range
• Obstacle avoidance system
• Sharp, distortion-free stabilized 4K video camera
• Orbit, follow, and other intelligent flight modes
• Records in portrait or landscape mode
• Compact remote control
• Not as steady in strong wind as Phantom models
• Requires a smartphone to operate
• Unable to take off from grass in testing
If you are looking forward to getting your hands on travel-friendly gadget that will help you get amazing views and mesmerizing pictures, you need to invest in DJI Mavic Pro.
Parrot Bebop priced at $499.99 is a great alternative if you are looking for an economically priced drone. iPad or an iPhone can easily be used as a control device to handle this amazing drone. There are three different control modes available when flying via tablet or phone. The default mode, joypad mode, and Ace mode. While this small device cannot fulfill your dreams of owning the best drone, but it can still make it worth the money.
• Stable 1080p video
• Safe to fly indoors
• Controllable via tablet or phone
• Capable of performing aerial rolls and flips
• Supports Raw and JPG image capture
• Optional remote control available for purchase
• Limited flight time
• Remote control is expensive
• Indoor video footage is noisy
• Not the most stable drone in the air
Parrot Bebop doesn’t climb as high as its competitors but it is extremely easy to fly and captures a stable image. It is an affordable alternative to high-end drones.
Parrot Disco FPV has an aerodynamic design and it flies easily through the air. It has black and white coloration and is less dramatic than its competitors. The Parrot Disco comes with Skycontroller and FPV Goggle which makes it the drone of the future. While trying it for the first time, many people believe that this device allows them to try out new things. This drone travel faster than many other drones available in the market and stays up in the air for a long period of time.
• Easy to fly
• Detailed flight logs
• 35 minutes flight time
• iOS and Android compatible
• Average video and image quality
• FPV goggles encourages unsafe operation
• High Priced
• Required open space for landing
Parrot Disco FPV is fun to fly however it is not the most practical drone available in the market. It is high priced which deter many from buying it.