The price of drones has dropped significantly in the last couple of years. This means that everyone can afford one. Of course, if a drone is suspiciously cheap, there might be a reason for that – it might be cheaply made.
Unfortunately, finding affordable drones that excel in terms of quality and performance is not easy. You need a little bit of technical knowledge on the subject, as well as a lot of time and patience in order to do your research the right way.
The good news is that there is a shortcut. Rather than wasting your time and nerves on collecting drone-related info, you can just read our drone buyer guide. We’ve outlined all the important things you need to learn about in order to be able to dins the right drone for your needs and wishes. So, let’s start from the beginning, explain what these devices are!
What are Drones?
By definition, a drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV for short. This is an umbrella term for all sorts of unmanned aircraft, including those drones used for commercial purposes and those used by the military.
Still, when you say the word drone, you’re probably thinking about those UAVs regular people use to have fun. These drones are relatively small and lightweight, and usually don’t require any training in order to be operated properly.
They’re also pretty affordable, although you can’t expect them to put on professional-grade flying performances. These drones can fly only a couple hundred yards up and can stay airborne only for a couple of minutes. Of course, that’s more than enough for most users to have a lot of fun and take amazing aerial photos (if the drone comes with such a feature).
Types of Drones Offered on the Market
Drones have become a thing only a couple of years ago and since, people have gone really crazy about them. With such a large demand for drones, it’s not a big surprise that many tech companies decided to get in on the action. The result is that you can find all kinds of drones on the market these days.
Generally speaking, all drones you can buy can be separated into a couple of categories. Here are some of those:
- Beginners’ drones
- Aerial photography drones
- Long-distance drones
- Racing drones
Drones for Beginner Operators
Quadcopters – this is the most common type of drones you can find and they’re a pretty good choice for beginners. It’s because most of them don’t require any special training from you and you can operate them without getting a license from the authorities.
A quadcopter comes with four propellers which make it pretty stable and decent when it comes to speed. These drones are pretty lightweight and can’t fly too high, which makes them a safe choice.
There are literally thousands of different quadcopters on the meat, but in most cases, they come with either a low-quality cam or a slot where you can fit in a GoPro or a similar camera type. When it comes to controlling these drones, you can do it using a remote or using a smartphone.
Professional Drones with Cameras
These are a type of drones commonly used by film crews and professional wedding photographers. These drones usually come with their own HD camera and/or have a cam slot.
As these drones are meant to record footage from above, they need to have a good battery life so that they can stay airborne for a long time. Usually, they come with batteries that can keep them in the air for at least half an hour.
They also need to be stable in the air, which is why they often come in the form of hexacopters (six propellers) or even octocopters (eight propellers).
Drones for Long Distance Flights
Because they’re meant to be able to carry out long-distance flights, these drones need to have a high-capacity battery. They also need to be very fast in order not to waste the time of the operator.
Speaking of the operator, in order to be allowed to use this type of drone, you will probably have to go on a course and pass a test before getting a license. Drones for long distance flights are controlled through a remote that comes with an LCD display or via a smartphone.
Whatever the device used for piloting such a drone, the GPS needs to be used. The Global Positioning System is there to ensure the drone will actually get to its destination. These types of drones also fly at higher altitudes than other types of drones, which is why you can’t fly them over restricted areas such as airports.
As this kind of technology became advanced, many high-performance drones hit the market. And many drone-flying enthusiasts fell in love with high-performances drones. It didn’t take long before drone aficionados started competing with each other in drone races.
To take part in a drone race, you need a drone that’s fast. Okay, that goes without saying, but the speed isn’t the only attribute a good racing drone needs to possess. It also needs to be very stable in the air, as well as very agile. The thing is that drone races often take place on regular racing tracks, meaning that drones don’t just fly straight forward.
Finally, these drones also need to be easy to control. After all, if it’s hard to pilot it, you’re probably going to crash it. And destroying such a drone means losing a lot of money because these racing drones are usually pretty pricey.
Drones for Children
Drones for children or as they’re sometimes called ‘microdrones’ or ‘toy drones’ are so tiny that kids can fly them indoors. These drones are also very lightweight and pretty slow, which makes them a much safer choice than any other drone.
Due to their compact size, they usually come with a limited number of features. They’re usually without a camera or featuring a low-resolution cam. The battery is also usually not too strong. It can keep the drone airborne for only a few minutes.
And because these drones are meant for children, they almost always look funny. They come in all different shapes and colors, and their price is usually very low. Actually, toy drones are much cheaper than all the other types of drones.
Features to Look For In Drones
The size of drone goes hand in hand with its purpose. Drones meant for children are usually so small that they can be used indoors. It’s a similar case for microdrones used for spying purposes.
Slightly larger are regular quadcopters. They’re large enough to be able to carry a number of useful features (e.g. camera, high-capacity battery, etc.) yet not too big and heavy that it would affect their aerial performances.
Drones used for photography and filming are approximately the same size, although some high-end models come with more propellers. The thing is that the more propellers a drone has, it’s more stable in the air. This is why professional-grade drones with cameras are usually larger than others.
Drones for long-distance flights are the largest you can find, which isn’t surprising considering the fact that they need a large battery. They also need to be fast, yet there’s no need to be too agile in the air. After all, their regular trajectory is straight.
The same goes for the fastest drones on the market. They’re pretty large, which doesn’t make them very agile. But, they don’t need agility in linear races. However, racing drones used in circular races need to be great at changing direction, which is why they’re usually much smaller.
Flight Range/Max Distance of Remote Control
The flight range refers to the maximum distance to which your drone can fly without losing the signal with the remote control. In some cases, the maximum flight range has nothing to do with the remote, but with the aerial performances of the drone – some UAVs just can’t fly high and wide.
Obviously, the longer the flight range, the better. But, mind you, there really is no need to worry about this thing if you’re using a regular drone that’s meant for fun. Most of these drones have a pretty decent flight range. Those that don’t are toy drones. And those that have a really impressive flight range are long-distance flight drones.
Battery Life (And Replacement Battery Price)
Even if the drone has a flight range measured in miles, it won’t matter much unless its battery has enough power to take it there. Otherwise, the drone will lose its energy source far away from you. The good news is that most drones have a feature that automatically orders them to return to the base when the battery level goes dangerously down.
No matter what the purpose is why you want to get yourself a drone, you will surely want to keep it airborne for as long as possible. And that is why you need to pay attention to battery life. Most drones have the flying time written in the specs. Usually, it’s measured in minutes.
A word of advice is to take a look at how much a spare battery costs. It’s not that we don’t trust it’s going to last for a long time; it’s because buying a spare battery means that you won’t have to wait for the primary battery to recharge. All you’ll have to do is replace them.
Most drones these days do come with built-in cameras. Small drones meant for kids usually feature poor-resolution cams, which is understandable considering their small size. Regular quadcopters often come with HD cameras, as well as slots for attaching external cams or smartphones. So, if you own a GoPro or a similar high-end camera, you will be able to mount it on your drone.
And finally, there are some drones made especially for photography and video making. These drones come with their own high-quality cameras. Although the photos and videos these drones make are of incredible quality, the thing is that camera drones are usually pretty price. They often cost much more than a drone and a GoPro combined.
Here’s one of the very useful features, especially for the newbies. The so-called headless mode will align the drone’s movements to the controller. This means that it doesn’t matter which way the drone’s front end is pointing; it only matters where your controller is pointing. With the headless mode turned on, the drone will move relative to your direction.
Another, perhaps even more awesome mode is the FPV mode. It stands for first-person view and it’s exactly that. If you have a remote controller with a display or use you use a smartphone/tablet to pilot it, you will get a view from the head of the drone on the display. This way, you will get a feeling as if you’re flying inside the drone’s cockpit.
Return Home Button Option
Here’s an essential feature for those who wish to ensure their drone lasts for a long time. The same goes for those conscious about other people because this feature prevents drone smashing down on the ground from a high altitude. We hope you’re a person like that and that’s why we recommend focusing on drones with the return home button.
Once you activate this feature, it will bring back the drone to its base without any need for you to pilot it. So, if you lose sight of it, just press the button and the drone will return to you. And the same feature can be set to bring the drone back automatically if its battery is nearly empty. If your drone comes with this function, you won’t have to worry about losing it or dropping it onto someone’s head when the battery runs out.
Gimbal is an interesting little mechanism that’s meant to ensure the camera stays stable in the air. Even if there’s a lot of wind or the drone is changing its direction while moving, a gimbal will keep the camera steady.
This way, your videos and photos won’t get ruined. Actually, they’ll be of approximately the same quality as if they were made on the ground. This is the reason why each top-quality drone with a camera will have this kind of device built-in.
So, if you’re planning to use your drone for photo shooting and video recording, you need to make sure it comes with a gimbal. The good news is that this device isn’t too complicated, so even some budget drones come with it.
Many drones these days come with some interesting accessories. For instance, some come with a camera that can broadcast live video straight to your smartphone. Others have a camera that records the video onto a MicroSD card.
When it comes to the flight time, some drones have a solar panel on top, which serves as energy generator for the battery. Another useful feature is the storage compartment, which can come in handy if you need to transport something.
These are just a couple of examples of what kind of accessories a drone might have. And that’s why our advice is to read carefully the list of features of a drone you’re considering to buy. Even if it doesn’t come with an accessory you have set your mind on, maybe it comes with a suitable attachment for it. For instance, many drones that don’t have a built-in camera have a cam mount.
Useful Tips for Beginner Drone Pilots
The best advice we can give you is to make sure you buy a quality drone that comes with the features essential for newbies. Such a drone will not give you a hard time while you’re piloting it and the risk of crashing it is close to zero.
Another piece of advice we got for you is not to rush it. It’s not just about being careful not to destroy the drone right away; it’s also about ensuring yours and the safety of others. Take it easy, start your practice in your own back yard before moving to a larger open space where there might be other people.
Drones & Safety Tips
Everyone’s safety is of the utmost importance when piloting a drone. If you buy a big and powerful drone, you won’t get a license to pilot it from the authorities until you complete a course and subsequently pass a test.
But, if you buy a regular quadcopter, you will be able to use it without having any licenses. It is because these drones aren’t so dangerous. Still, they can cause serious injuries to people. First of all, considering that their propellers are spinning at a very high speed, they can cut someone. And that’s why it’s essential to fly the drone at a safe distance from people. Even when you’re turning it on, make sure no one’s around at least for a couple yards.
Another safety concern is the drone falling down from the sky. Even a one-pound drone can cause serious injuries to a person if it falls down on their head from a 200-feet height. And such things can happen if the drone’s battery runs out or if you navigate it out of the reach of your remote controller.
Crashing or losing your drone means you can say goodbye to it. And such things happen all the time. The group of people who experience such scenarios the most are those who have no previous experience with drone piloting.
The biggest problem here is that drones can be pretty expensive. Crashing or losing it on your first day is bound to leave a bad feeling. But, the good news is that you can tackle this problem. There are some insurance companies that can help you. There’s an option to ensure your drone, so if a misfortune happens, you will get reimbursed.
Other ways to ensure your drone doesn’t get damaged or lost include keeping the emergency landing feature on, which will bring it down on its own if the battery runs out. Another good tip is to buy a GPS tracker, so even if your drone goes out of the reach, you will be able to locate it. And even if someone steals it, this kind of gadget will help you get it back.
Drones can be pretty fun things to operate, not to mention that you can use them for business purposes as well. Of course, it all depends on what kind of drone you wish to buy. Hopefully, after reading our drone buying guide, you will be able to decide which type suits your needs and preferences the best.
But, no matter what sort of drone you decide to buy, you need to make sure it’s actually a quality product. Cheap drones are cheap because they are cheaply made. And such a drone will not serve you well for long, not to mention that such a drone poses danger to people on the ground.
Of course, we are not saying that you should empty your entire bank account to buy a drone. On the contrary, there are some pretty amazing drones out there which comes with pretty attractive price tags. So, where to look for such drones? Amazon.com is your best drone-buying destination!