Drones for sale are available to buy everywhere, but with such a wide range, how do you know which one is best suited for your needs, your budget or the best one to gift as a birthday or Christmas present? The aim of this article is to give a clear overview of the top 5 drones for sale in 2014. Further drone reviews specific to each model can be read by clicking on the corresponding links.
Top 5 drones for sale:
(ratings out of 25)
(reference: AR Parrot)
The most popular ready built drone for sale comes from Parrot with a price tag of about $300, making it very affordable for the majority of people looking to get into the drone flying hobby. The package comes with the drone already built and is ready to fly the same day you buy; no tedious assembly of pieces required.
The one requirement is that you have a smartphone or tablet device with iOS or Android installed, as this acts as the remote control. Flying is very intuitive, controlled by the gyroscope on the device to steer forwards, backwards, left and right. The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 will also stabilise itself and hover after you let go of the controls, or if it gets out of range. The current range for the drone is 800 feet and flight time is about 30 minutes. The rc drone also has the ability to return to you or go home home if an address is pre-programmed into the optional GPS receiver you can buy and connect to the drone via a USB slot.
Ease of use: 5/5
Air time: 5/5
For $1,300 you can buy the DJI’s later version of a drone, called the Phanton 2 Vision+, which had even more useful features. The “2” comes from the fact that it is the second version of the Phantom, the first now being discontinued and the “Vision” refers to the fact that it’s built in camera captures 1080p high def video and can take 14 MP photos. The “+” suffix refers to the drone’s three axis gimbal joint between the drone and the camera which eliminates any shakes or turbulence from the videos, making them as smooth as if they were taken by a tripod.
DJI were also clever enough to allow you to mount your own GoPro Hero3 camera on it, and should you wish to do so, you can purchase just the DJI Phantom 2 drone for about $700.
The controls come in the form of an easy to use remote control, together with a wifi range extender and a mount for your iphone. You can download the DJI Phantom app from the AppStore or Android store and connect it to the drone itself via wifi to get real time video and see what the drone is seeing through the mounted camera. You can therefore either fly the drone by watching it or by using the phone screen as a head up display.
It also comes with a GPS receiver that is pre-programmed to return back to the home address, so you don’t need to worry about losing it, as long as it doesn’t crash or gets attacked by seagulls of course.
Ease of use: 4/5
Air time: 4/5
AirDog is a company funded by kickstarter who has so far raised over $1m and was featured in over a dozen of media outlets. You can check their kickstarter page here. Their estimated delivery date is currently set to Nov 2014 with a list price of about $1,500.
This is a pretty cool little drone, by far one of the smallest and funkiest available. It is an extremely portable quadcopter as it can be easily folded and it allows you to mount your own GoPro Hero3 camera at the front. It has a range of 300m and is also equipped with a gimbal which stabilises the footage.
The AirDog’s unique selling point is the fact that it comes with an AirLeash which you can attach to your arm to have the drone follow you wherever you go, without any need for a remote control. In fact, it is the world’s first ‘auto-follow’ drone aimed at sports and running enthusiasts who want to track their progress on the field.
The AirLeash will tell the drone which way to point the camera so you always stay in focus. It is ideal for those who want to improve their skills or share their adventures and progress with friends. As the drone is not fully launched yet, we felt that we could not yet rate it below. We’ll bring you a more thorough review once we get our hands on one!
Ease of use: ??
Air time: ??
Extreme Fliers Micro Drone
(reference: Extreme Fliers)
The Extreme Fliers Micro Drone is one of the cheapest and smallest drones available. The latest version (2.0) can be bought off Amazon for $150 and the original version is available for about $100. It has a range of about 120 metres and comes equipped with a basic 720p HD camera that is controllable from the remote control and records directly onto the 2GB MicroSD card that is provided.
You can also perform 360 degree flips by pressing a single button, similar to the feature on the Parrot AR Drone 2.0.
This is an affordable quadcopter for anyone looking to get some flying experience and is a perfect starting model on par with the Parrot Drone, but cheaper and with fewer frills. It can be compared to the Jet Blue version of commercial flying. On a full charge, it can fly for between 8-10 minutes, and it only measures 15 x 15 x 4cm!
Ease of use: 3/5
Air time: 2/5
Turbo Ace X830 Drone
The X830 quadcopter from Turbo Ace is a fully assembled ready to fly on purchase with a camera mount. The unique selling point of this drone is that it allows you to mount your own camera, even heavier ones than the GoPro. Its motors, propellers and the whole chassis has been design to sustain crashes that can seriously damage the other drones.
It also provides improved balance and a flight time of up to 30 minutes. The price tag comes up to $1,251
Ease of use: 3/5
Air time: 5/5
Drone purchasing advice summary
Which drone should you buy out of all the RC drones for sale?
For any new drone pilots looking for a budget version, we recommend you buy the Micro Drone from Extreme Fliers. This is also ideal as a birthday or Christmas present for your children, partner and any other amateur fliers. If you are looking for something more advanced and budget is not much of an issue, then we recommend the AR Drone 2.0.
The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is ideal for both beginner and intermediate fliers who plan on taking high definition videos or photos or if you have a spare GoPro Hero 3 camera that you want to use with your drone.
The AirDog is a new and promising drone that is compatible with your GoPro, is easily transportable and is ideal if you want the drone to fly itself and track a moving or stationary object. As mentioned above, this can be used to film yourself whilst training and has multiple modes for doing so.
The Turbo Ace X830 drone is naturally ideal if you wish to use your own non GoPro Hero camera. The drone is highly stable and easy to fly for any beginner and it also comes with considerable documentation.
For more advice one which drone to buy, don’t hesitate to ask on our drone support forums.