Flying drones is becoming a popular hobby for many, and an essential in some industries, including the movie industry, agriculture, search and rescue, among others. If you are new to drones, a drone buying guide will come in handy. Our drone buyers guide 2018 spells out what to look for when shopping for a quadcopter in 2018!
What To Look For
It is easier to make a buying decision when you have an understanding of the features to look for. Here are the things to look for when shopping for a drone.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: Flight Time
Flight time is the amount of time a drone with a full battery will fly for. This ranges from as small as 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Do not expect more than 5 minutes flight time from the most budget drones
At the higher end of the spectrum are drones that are capable of flying for 35 minutes on a full battery. Regardless of how good your drone’s flight time is, however, it is a good idea to have spare batteries on you when you go flying.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: Flight Range
How far away from you can your drone fly before you lose its control signal? That is what range is about. There are drones that have a range as limited as 30 metres, while there are others with a range of 7 kilometres. Again, it boils down to your needs and budget.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: Camera
Some drones have a camera built-in, while others allow you to attach a camera as an extension. Entry-level drones have the most basic cameras, just as with smartphones. Do not expect the stunning pictures or videos from those. You will get 720p video capture on many budget drones.
If you need a drone for shooting high quality video, it is a good idea to get one with a minimum of 1080p video capture. More professional drone cameras produce even better quality video.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: First Person View / Live View
This is a feature that lets you fly a drone using a monitor screen connected to a camera on the drone for live video feed. The connection is via WiFi. If you need this feature, be sure to look for it on the specs sheet when shopping. It is also referred to as Live View.
Note that even with Live View, it is best to keep your drone in sight, except you are flying a military strike drone with a more advanced location and guidance system.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: Altitude Hold
Altitude Hold is a feature that lets you lock the flight height, so you are free to focus on directional flight. The drone stays at a fixed height all through the flight.
This is great if you are new to drone flying. Of course, it is better to learn to fly a drone without Altitude Hold in use, as you polish your flying skills better.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: Headless Mode
Anyone who has learnt to pilot a drone knows that mastering orientation when flying is a tough one. headless mode is a feature that allows you to fly without worrying about orientation. Here is a quick explanation of how Headless Mode works:
When you take off with the drone pointing in the front, algorithms running in the drone’s micro-controller ensure that any directional change is compensated.
In other words, even when you yaw your drone 90 degrees to the left (so that it’s now ‘facing’ your left), it’ll still go forward when you push the rudder forward (on a non-headless mode drone, this would make the drone go left).
You can read more about it HERE.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: Return Home Function
This is a quick way to bring your drone back to you. If you ever lose control or sight of your quad-copter, rather than panic, just press a button and your drone returns to you. That is, if it has the feature. Note that the Return Home function works best with Headless Mode.
Drone Buyers Guide 2018: Prices
As with all shopping and buying decisions, price is always a major factor. No matter how much you need a feature, your pocket will determine how far you can go. There is a wide range of quadcopters available to pick from.
Many of the features already explained are now trickling down to budget drones; they just work better and/or produce better results on more expensive models. For example, you will find a 720p camera, altitude hold, a flight time of about 7 minutes, and foldable arms on the $80 GoolRC T47 FPV Drone.
Not bad at all. For about twice the price of the GoolRC T47, you will find the Potensic T18 GPS FPV drone.
The $250 Holy Stone GPS FPV RC Drone has Camera Live Video, GPS Return Home, 720P HD WIFI Camera, Follow Me, and Altitude Hold.
For more professional use, there is the $3,000 DJI Inspire 2 Quadcopter with a 7 kilometre flight range, 27 minute flight time, Live View, and shoots Apple ProRes video at up to 5.2K quality. The DJI Inspire 2 can also broadcast and live stream. That is the most basic configuration of the Inspire 2. Even more advanced configurations include a much more capable camera and accessories that can bring the total cost of the drone up to $6,000.
A Drone For Your Purpose And Budget
As you can see, there is a drone for your purpose and your pocket. We hope that you have found our drone buying guide useful. Please use the social buttons on this page to share it with your networks.
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