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The internet is flooded with articles and reviews about drones and quadcopters, and deciding which one to buy is not easy.
It is important first of all to understand what a drone is.
An rc helicopter is just a toy. But as soon as you attach a camera to it, it is called a drone. If this drone has 4 rotors, it is called a quadcopter, 6 rotors it is called a hex copter, and with 8 rotors it is referred to as an octocopter.
As soon as the rc helicopter has more than one rotor, which is almost always the case with camera drones for sale, it is called a multirotor. And all drones, rc helicopters and quadcopters, regardless of how many rotors they have, are called UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles.
Drones are a new class of product. Some drones are simple and cheap, and are just toys. Some quadcopters are very sophisticated and loaded with features and flying capabilities, and some drones are just hobby models.
Here is my personal quadcopter blog for ready to fly multirotor drones. In my opinion, there are four key factors that make a good ready to fly multirotor drone. Each model will be rated based on features, quality, ease of use and value.
The price for this mini rc drone is only about $43. It’s one of the cheapest mini rc quadcopters you can buy. It’s very fast for how small it is, but at the same time since the rotors are so small and close together, people have found that it’s a bit hard to maneuvre. Since the Proto X is so cheap, quality inspections at the factory are not the best, and there is a chance you could buy a defective one, but a mini rc drone at this price is a bargain!
I can’t recommend this quadcopter if you’re serious about getting into the hobby, but it’s definitely a good rc toy if you just want something to fly around the house, and get a little exprience flying a drone.
QAV400 ready to fly version
The QAV400 is a quadcopter designed for sport flying and FPV (first person view). It’s actually just a frame that’s sold so people can add their own electronics to it, but you can get a ready-to-fly version with all of the electronics installed if you’re willing to pay the price.
The feeling you get when flying FPV with this quadcopter is absolutely amazing. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend buying anything like this unless you already have experience with RC planes or helicopters. This is truly a hobbyist type of multirotor and all of the parts and components are high quality, customizable and made by completely different companies. So getting it set up and fixing it when you crash would be a lot harder than most of the other ready-to-fly drones out there.
The price for this quadcopter is $895 which is normal for ready-to-fly multirotors in this category.
Parrot AR Drone 2.0
The AR Drone 2.0 is one of the coolest quadcopters out there. It has a 1GHz 32 bit processor, 1GB of ram, gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, a pressure sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, 2 cameras and more. Even though it’s over 2 years old, the AR Drone is still one of the most advanced quadcopters available in its price range which is $299.
The biggest feature of the AR Drone is that it can be controlled from your iPhone. You can also see a live video feed from the phone screen and record video. It’s even running Linux and there’s an AR Drone open API platform, so you can program it to do whatever you want.
Like the other multirotors & quadcopters on the list, this is “not” a perfect quadcopter. The biggest feature of this Drone is actually one of it’s biggest problems. The AR drone can only be controlled with your phone, meaning that you can’t use a normal RC controller with real control sticks. That also means that there’s no way to fly manually.
If you’re planning on learning how to fly so you can operate a more advanced model in the future, you won’t learn anything with the AR Drone.
If you want to learn how to fly a quadcopter manually, the LaTrax Alias is a great way to start. The reason why it’s a good quadcopter to learn with is because it has a full manual flight mode and it’s extremely durable. This means that you can learn how to fly without worrying too much about crashing.
Since it’s about 7 inches wide and has big propellers it also has great yaw authority, so doing bank turns, pirouette maneuvers and more would be no problem. It’s also big enough to carry a small camera like the 808 keychain camera. I’ve even seen people instal video transmitters and do FPV.
The only down side about the Alias is the price which is about $150. It might seem a little bit pricy at first, but at the same time it’s built well and even if you do manage to break it, all of the parts are replaceable. This is not the type of quadcopter where you end up throwing it away after a month of use.
3D Robotics IRIS
Out of all the drones for sale, (other than the AR Drone) the IRIS has the biggest list of features. In a nutshell, the IRIS is for people who have never owned a drone before, but want something that they can tinker with and modify.
It has a lot of auto-pilot features such as auto takeoff and landing, GPS waypoint flight (with a computer or android device), live data telemetry and more. You can also order the IRIS with a brushless gimbal for the GoPro (made by a company called Tarot) for shooting aerial video, although in my opinion, shooting video was just an after thought when 3D Robotics was designing the IRIS.
The IRIS is an interesting quadcopter, especially for people who want to learn about flight controllers and how auto-pilot systems work, but for the rest of us out there it’s a bit hard to justify spending $750 which is how much it costs to have something that isn’t very user friendly.
If you’re on a budget and want a lot of features for your money, the Quanum Nova is probably the best drone for you. It has a similar shell design to the DJI Phantom 2, but it’s running the same software as the 3D Robotics IRIS, which means that it has almost all of the features of the IRIS (with the exception of data telemetry) at a fraction of the cost.
The Quanum Nova is only $300 which is very low for what it can do. You have to buy the battery and charger separately, but even when adding that to the full cost it would only be about $400 for everything ($350 less than the IRIS). Just like the IRIS, the Nova also has an optional brushless gimbal for the GoPro that costs $100 extra.
The main thing to take into consideration with the Quanum Nova is that it’s a very new quadcopter. There aren’t many videos out there or documentation on how to use it, or problems that it could potentially have in the future. So far, all of the reviews I’ve seen have been great, so this is definitely a quadcopter to consider if you’re looking for a super low cost camera platform.
The nano QX is a lot like the LaTrax Alias but smaller. Because it’s a few inches smaller than the Alias it doesn’t have as much yaw authority, but it’s still a lot better than the tiny Proto X.
It has two flight modes, stability and agility. In agility mode you have full control over the quadcopter to learn how to fly manually. It does not have the auto flipping functions that the Alias does, but that isn’t a problem since you can do flips manually and it’s more fun. Since the Nano QX is smaller than the Alias, it’s only $90 instead of $150. The only annoying thing about having a smaller quadcopter like the Nano QX is that it’s harder to see when flying far away, so it’s easier to lose orientation, but in general, it’s still a good quadcopter to learn with, especially since you can also use it with any DSMX RC transmitter.
Last but not least, the best drone for sale right now is the Phantom 2. There are a few reasons why it’s so great. The first is that it’s the easiest multirotor to fly hands down. Even an 8 year old could learn how to control it within a few minutes. Not only is it a great quadcopter for beginners, when combining it with the H3-3D gimbal it’s one of the best aerial video tools ever made. It also has the longest flight time (20 minutes) out of any ready-to-fly quadcopter that’s under $1000. DJI is also always updating their software to fix bugs and add additional features to their products.
The Phantom 2 is priced at about $680 which isn’t cheap, but at the same time it’s made a lot better than the other quadcopters like the Quanum Nova and it flies a lot better too.
Another bad thing that actually has nothing to do with the Phantom itself is DJI’s bad customer support, probably because they have so many people buying Phantoms that they can’t keep up with questions and complaints. On the other hand, the amount of YouTube videos, websites and people in general talking about Phantoms is huge. Any questions that you might have, there will always be someone out there who knows the answer. You can also find a massive amount of after market products for sale like carrying cases, upgrade parts and more
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