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Best Drones Reviewed & Rated for Personal and Recreational Use

last updated Apr 17, 2019

Drones started as a pocket-sized flying electronic gadget—and yet now it seems like everyone either has one or wants one. When it comes to them, though, there are so many on the market that it can be impossible to even know where to start when you’re doing your market research. Fortunately, that’s why we’re here—to help ensure you get the best reviews so you know which one best fits your personal use! For our purposes here, we’re only considering introductory level ones, that you would use for your personal use, but not for commercial use. That means these aren’t the ones you would use for professional photography or for filming a Hollywood blockbuster. That doesn’t, however, mean these aren’t still great! Again, these are for personal use. Check out our favorite ten below, and then check out the pointers and tips below our reviews of the top ten!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research

icon
 Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV
95/100 our score
Advanced Features
97
Durability
96
Materials
96
Ease of Use
94
Value
92
Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV
Why is it better?

Incredible video for a personal use

Great flight time (15 minutes) and range (500 meters)

Follow me mode means you can take it on the go, tracking your run, ride, or more

GPS function and return to home function ensure you'll never lose track of your drone

One-key takeoff and landing

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
 Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV
Test Winner: Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
3
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
3,500
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
11
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
10
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Sofija Pavlovska
By Sofija Pavlovska:

When it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles - the industry is rapidly evolving. There is always a new version or a new one that is taking over the industry by storm. In this, we performed a recent update to help assure our reader base that these are the 10 best ones for personal and recreational use. Below, readers will learn more about the evaluation process and the criteria used to pick out each of them. Additionally, we answered some of the most commonly asked questions that may just make your decision process that much easier. Check this out!

Sorting Options
Advanced Features Durability Materials Ease of Use Value By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Advanced Features
97 %
Durability
96 %
Materials
96 %
Ease of Use
94 %
Value
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
$169.99
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Advanced Features
96 %
Durability
95 %
Materials
95 %
Ease of Use
94 %
Value
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
$49.99
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.4
Advanced Features
94 %
Durability
95 %
Materials
94 %
Ease of Use
96 %
Value
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Advanced Features
93 %
Durability
94 %
Materials
94 %
Ease of Use
94 %
Value
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
$29.99
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
Advanced Features
95 %
Durability
95 %
Materials
95 %
Ease of Use
94 %
Value
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
$689.00
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Advanced Features
92 %
Durability
94 %
Materials
94 %
Ease of Use
93 %
Value
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Advanced Features
94 %
Durability
91 %
Materials
93 %
Ease of Use
91 %
Value
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
$49.99
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
Advanced Features
93 %
Durability
93 %
Materials
92 %
Ease of Use
90 %
Value
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Advanced Features
93 %
Durability
90 %
Materials
93 %
Ease of Use
90 %
Value
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
$59.99
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Advanced Features
91 %
Durability
92 %
Materials
92 %
Ease of Use
90 %
Value
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (05.12.19)
Amazon Link
$69.99

Top 10 Picks

1. Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
 Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
97
Durability
96
Materials
96
Ease of Use
94
Value
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$169.99
Pros:

Incredible video for a personal use

Great flight time (15 minutes) and range (500 meters)

Follow me mode means you can take it on the go, tracking your run, ride, or more

GPS function and return to home function ensure you'll never lose track of your drone

One-key takeoff and landing

Cons:

More expensive than most competing personal use drones

While more expensive than many of the other ones in this list, the Holy Stone FPV device is feature-laden to make that extra cost worth it. With a flight time of up to 15 minutes, one-key takeoff and landing, altitude hold, headless mode, a 500 meter range, and optimized video, it has all the features most users look for in a personal use device, and the GPS assisted flight and return to home functions ensure you won't ever lose it, either.

Better flight
The FPV device by Holy Stone simply offers better features and better flight than most other personal use types, including the GPS assist, one-key takeoff, and landing, return to home function, built-in stabilizers, and even a follow me mode so you can take it on the go with you. With the flight time of up to 15 minutes and a range of up to 500 meters, it also lasts longer than most of its competitors.

Fantastic video
The optimized 720P 120° FOV FPV wifi camera with a 90° adjustable angle ensures you can capture high-quality video and aerial photos, and the real-time viewing capacity helps ensure you get exactly the shot you want.

Cost and value
The combination of features and video quality means that while this one is more expensive than most of its competitors, it's well worth the bump up in cost.

2. Blade Nano QX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
 Blade Nano QX
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
96
Durability
95
Materials
95
Ease of Use
94
Value
93
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$49.99
Pros:

Incredible value for the cost

Nimble maneuverability and small size combine to mean you can fly it anywhere

Durable, especially compared to other drones at the same price point

Cons:

The video is not as good as some other entry-level personal use drones

The Blade Nano QX has the capabilities to provide a smooth controlling experience. The construction of this model makes it great for speed and agility. Switching modes will allow those seeking more fun to perform stunts.

Size that increases function
Because the Nano QX is so tiny (it fits in your palm), you can take it anywhere, indoor or out. At less than half of one ounce, you can literally fly it in a closet if you so desire. And that allows you to take the QX places other ones can't go.

Control AND maneuverability
Unlike many other quadcopters, the Nano QX offers both control and maneuverability. The SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) helps ensure it stays steady (simply let go of the controls and it will automatically level out) even as its small size ensures it stays nimble and responsive. That's not something many other personal use ones can say.

Cost and value
Even better, the Nano QX is laden with features that come at no extra cost, including wireless transmission, durability in crashes (helped in part by the rotor cages and its small size), and extra rotors. There may not be a better one for its price point.

3. TOZO Q1012 X8tw Quadcopter

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.4
 TOZO Q1012 X8tw Quadcopter
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
94
Durability
95
Materials
94
Ease of Use
96
Value
93
best offer for today
Amazon Link
Pros:

Great for learning, with a full complement of features that help you use into piloting a quadcopter

Responsive flight features

One-key features

Streaming video

Cons:

Video quality was a bit subpar compared to other comparable ones

The Tozo Q1012 is definitely one of the best learning devices we tested, with a wide range of features that help first-time drone pilots build up their skills as they gain experience. The maneuverability available once the skills are there to capitalize is likewise quite impressive.

Easy operation
Not only does the Tozo Q1012 X8tw quadcopter offer one-key return AND one-key take-off, but the headless mode, easy flight controls, and three-speed modes also allow introductory pilots to quickly gain experience, comfort, and skill, making this a great device on which to learn. Additionally, the foldable design makes it more durable when it does crash.

Responsiveness
This was also one of the most responsive ones for personal use which we tested, meaning that once you are comfortable as a pilot, there's very little you can't get this device to do.

Cost and value
While not the cheapest entry-level personal use device, it's also far from the most expensive, and the range of features that make it such a great learning one make it a great value, both for yourself and for your kid (our nephew, etc).

4. Holy Stone HS170 Predator

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
 Holy Stone HS170 Predator
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
93
Durability
94
Materials
94
Ease of Use
94
Value
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$29.99
Pros:

Beginner-friendly controls

Great value for the price

Hard to break compared to many other entry-level personal use devices

Cons:

Doesn't have very many features

Short battery life (6-8 minutes) and limited range (30-50 meters)

As one of the easiest devices on this list for beginners to learn how to fly, the HS 170 Predator Quadcopter is also the best value on this list. Super beginner-friendly, the stability, and control it offers are better even than many more expensive entry-level personal use devices. As such, it's perfect for learning how to fly a drone before then moving up to more feature-laden models.

Headless control and automatic stabilizing
With headless control and automatic stabilizing, it's hard for entry-level and beginning fliers to go wrong with this option, which is incredibly forgiving and easy to learn. With built-in wind resistance and a maximum range of 30-50 meters, it's difficult for this device to get away from you, making it a great learning tool.

Durable for the price point
Because of its limited range, beginner-friendly stability measures, extra propellers, and more, it may take some work to kill this drone—which is exactly what some beginners need. So if you're looking for a device for the kid who manages to break everything, this is a great place to start.

Cost and value
This isn't by any means the best items on this list, nor is it the most feature-laden. It is, however, the best value for its cost and the friendliest to beginner pilots.

5. DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
 DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
95
Durability
95
Materials
95
Ease of Use
94
Value
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$689.00
Pros:

25 minutes of battery life far outlasts most other personal use devices

The half-mile range is also far greater than most other personal use drones

video quality is far superior to most other personal use drones

live stream and 8 GB micro SD mean you can make sure you get exactly the shots you want

GPS capability means you never have to worry about losing track of where it is

Cons:

Significantly pricier than most other personal use ones

While much more expensive than many other devices for personal use, the DJI Phantom 3 offers features that make it quite worth the step up in cost if you already possess the flight skills to capably fly this quadcopter. With up to 25 minutes of flight time, 8 GB of storage, extra propellers, and much more, it simply offers significantly more than most other personal use devices on the market.

Battery life and range
The DJI Phantom 3 can simply do more than most other personal use devices, offering up to 25 minutes of flight time and a range of up to a half-mile, considerably more than most of its competitors. Additionally, GPS-enabled flight helps you maintain a sense of where your device is, so you can readily and quickly fly it back to you when the battery starts getting low.

Vastly superior video
The camera and recording capabilities make this one a fierce competitor and the 8 GB micro SD card means you shouldn't have to worry about data storage while you're out. You can also live stream, so you can see exactly what you're shooting as you shoot it.

Cost and Value
It's true, the DJI Phantom 3 is more expensive than most other personal use devices, especially compared to some of the budget-friendly devices on this list. As such, it isn't a true beginner drone—it's expensive enough that you really don't want to risk crashing it on your first flight. That said, the features are so far above most of the competition that its worth the price if those features are what you're looking for in your device.

6. Force1 UDI HD+ Rc

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
 Force1 UDI HD+ Rc
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
92
Durability
94
Materials
94
Ease of Use
93
Value
91
best offer for today
Amazon Link
Pros:

Up to 18 minutes of flight time is fully double most comparably priced personal use ones

Extra data storage means you can shoot more and shoot longer

Low battery warning means that you shouldn't ever be surprised when you finally do run out of battery

Flight stabilizers are some of the best we've seen at this price point

Cons:

Video functions and stability may come at the expense of maneuverability, so this quadcopter really doesn't work well for stunts or flying tricks

Incredibly feature-laden, the Force1 UDI is definitely one of our favorite ones, and with nearly twice the flight-time of most comparable models, it's hard to go wrong with the incredible video features.

Extra features
Compared to many of its competitors, the Force 1 UDI offers a ton of extra features, including more data storage (including an extra 4 GB memory card), an extra power bank, a USB charger, a second battery, and more, such as 4 extra propellers, all of which increase functionality and help you love this one for a long, long time.

Better video
Not only do you get better flight time, the increased stability of this one compared to most comparable models means you get absolutely fantastic video quality—which you can also stream in real-time. If you don't want to stream, though, the 4GB memory card means you can shoot a ton of it before you need to clear more data space.

Cost and value
In addition to all the other features, the flight features and added low-battery notice make this one of our favorite ones. It won't break the bank either, so if you're looking for a way to get into the game, this is a great place to both start and finish your search.

7. DbPower Mjx X400W Fpv

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
 DbPower Mjx X400W Fpv
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
94
Durability
91
Materials
93
Ease of Use
91
Value
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$49.99
Pros:

Easy to learn and beginner friendly

Intuitive function plus one-key return make it far less likely to crash

Real-time transmission means you can watch your video as you shoot it

Flip and stunt capacity is quite good for the cost

Cons:

Isn't the most durable of the entry-level personal use ones

Quality control has occasionally been an issue for this one, resulting in drone errors and runaway drones for some users

This model has something for both the expert and beginner alike. All while keeping your picture quality in mind as well. This version is lighter than others on the list while maintaining the durability of the product.

Real-time transmission
With a wifi enabled camera, the MJX X400W allows you to watch your video as you shoot it, and stabilizing features help you keep the film steady. The headless mode helps ensure you can get it back quickly, too, when the battery starts running low.

Easy learning curve
With headless mode, one-key return, and two different speed modes, it's easy to gradually increase your skills with this option. Additionally, the varied functionality allows you to fly it both indoors and out, and when you're ready for tricks, the MJX X400W is flip and roll capable in all directions.

Cost and value
While not the cheapest of the entry-level personal use ones, it's also not the most expensive, and the increased access of varied speed functions, headless function, and one-key return make it a great for learning, helping you transition toward bigger and better (but also more expensive) ones in the future.

8. GordVE GV1808 Mini Foldable

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
 GordVE GV1808 Mini Foldable
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
93
Durability
93
Materials
92
Ease of Use
90
Value
91
best offer for today
Amazon Link
Pros:

Easy maneuverability makes it a great entry-level item

The foldable design and lightweight makes crashing far less likely to damage it

Smartphone and remote control allow you to fly however is most comfortable for you

The low cost makes it a great value for entry-level personal one enthusiasts

Cons:

The battery only lasts 7-10 minutes for most users

About 50' seems to be as high as the one can fly while still maintaining user control

Not only is the GordVE GV1808 a foldable, light, and easy to use the personal one, it's featured rich for the price as an entry-level device. In addition, to hover control and one-key automatic return, the adjustable camera, easy steering functions, real-time video, and foldable frame (which keeps it from most major damage upon any collision) make it a great steal and an easy way to introduce yourself to the great ways a personal device can change your life.

Image and video features
Not only does the GV1808 offer real-time video and image transmission via wifi, so you can see exactly what your drone sees as you control it, the combination smartphone app and remote control allow you to get those images in the way that makes the most sense to you. Additionally, the HD wifi camera is adjustable to a full 75 degrees, meaning you can get the shot you need when you want it and how you want it, especially as hover control helps you keep the drone steady.

Maneuverability
With built-in hover control and one-key return, you can always feel secure that you have full control of the GV1808. Additionally, 360 rollover and other steering controls like altitude hold help ensure the drone does exactly what you want it to when you want it to. And, should you ever lose control of the device and crash it, the foldable design helps protect it in case of any unintentional impacts, making this one of the sturdier entry-level personal ones on the market.

Cost and value
Not only is the GV1808 one of the most beginner-friendly entry-level personal drones we looked at, but it's also one of the least expensive, meaning it offers great value for the price. You could hardly find a better way to introduce yourself to the world of those devices than with the GV1808.

9. Holy Stone F181C RC Drone

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
 Holy Stone F181C RC Drone
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
93
Durability
90
Materials
93
Ease of Use
90
Value
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$59.99
Pros:

Flight control features make this a great option for crafting unique videos

Extra battery increases your capacity for filming sessions

Altitude hold helps hold video steady and stable

Feature-rich item for the cost

Cons:

For the cost, is not as sturdy as some of the similar price personal use ones on the market

Control is not as intuitive as some of the other similar ones

Holy Stone does it again with this quadcopter, which offers a bonus battery for extra flight time, incredible control for the cost, one-key return and altitude hold features. Additionally, it shoots a great video for the price point, and while not the most intuitive ones we tested, is certainly one of the nicest of the entry-level personal devices.

Flight control
While one-key return and altitude hold are the features you'll notice first, the 360-degree flip (which works in four directions—left, right, forward, backward) and continuous roll features are what really set this item apart.

Extra battery
While an 80-minute charge time is pretty standard for an item at this price point, the ability to swap the first battery out for a second included battery is not—which gives you extra flight time over comparable ones.

Cost and value
For this option, the key features are the bonus battery and the improved flight control. Those are hardly the only reasons to love it, though, as the video quality is also quite impressive for the price point. If you're interested in getting into ones for video use, this is a great place to start.

10. Holy Stone HS160 Shadow

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
 Holy Stone HS160 Shadow
Amazon Link
Advanced Features
91
Durability
92
Materials
92
Ease of Use
90
Value
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$69.99
Pros:

Great value for the cost, offering a feature-laden, beginner-friendly option for a fraction of the cost of many similar drones

One-key options for start, return, and landing

Foldability means crashes won't do major damage and the device is easy to store in a pocket

FPV 720P HD camera takes great photos and videos

The small size means FAA registration is not required

3D virtual reality compatible, meaning you can experience your device's flight through your phone and the app

Cons:

Stabilization is pretty limited, meaning photos and video can be blurry or worse

The range is limited; only 50-70 meters for most users

Not only is the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow smartphone app-enabled, but it's also foldable and small enough once folded it can fit in your pocket. Despite its small size, it offers significant bang for the buck, offering 18 minutes of flight time even before a quick change of the batteries, and one-key return, 3d VR compatibility, gravity sensor control, and a fantastic FPV 720P HD camera all make this an ideal device for personal use.

Foldability
The foldable, flexible blades of the HS160 help make it portable, and its small profile makes it less likely to crash as you learn how to fly. Additionally, when it does crash, the blades aren't easily damaged, meaning this is great for beginner operators.

One-Key Return
Not only is the app control (both iOS and Android compatible) super easy for navigation purposes, it also offers a bunch of cool features: real-time image transmission, it also offers one key start, return, and landing, making it perfect for beginners, intermediate, and advanced fliers.

Cost and Value
Even better, the HS160 Shadow offers tremendous value, as it includes an amazing FPV 720P HD camera that shoots both photos and videos, with storage both in the app and a mobile album system AND both modular and bonus battery capabilities, meaning you can get extra flight time out of this bad boy.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Advanced Features

Remote
As we started to think of the different criteria that were most important in picking it out, the functionality of the remote was vital. The reason being is that without a properly built remote, it can get lost, damaged, or will not work. With that, the remote to signal it had to be of the best quality and we had to take into consideration the functionality of the remote. With that, we discovered that many remotes are made with basic functions such as joysticks and on/off buttons.

Specs of The Drone
When taking them into consideration, we knew this would easily become one of the most important criteria to talk about and so, we had to include it. The reason being is that the specs of the device are the primary reason an individual buys it. Whether an individual is just wanting a simple flying machine, or they are hoping for a full out movie making one, the specs define the purpose of the goal.

Electronic Drone and Remote System
This may be somewhat confusing to think about but by electronic unmanned aerial vehicle and remote system, we are taking into consideration the technology behind how the device and the remote function with one another. With that said, the electronic device and remote system are in reference to the program that the brand uses. For example, DJI uses a particular program per design that a user can update using a software upgrade.

Special Features of the Drone
When we started to dive into the best devices in the industry. One major question we asked ourselves was if any brands created any special features when it came to the droning quality. What we realized was the most brands were straightforward about their specs. However, some brands do offer nifty and cool features such as the ability to have LED lights on its propellers, or change the body color of the device. All of this with other special features from more high-end ones, such as the ability to capture an image with motion gesture was important special features we took into consideration.

Durability

As the next criteria on the list, of course, we had to include durability. Of course, if it had to go up against a tree, the tree would win. However, we wanted to ensure that each one was built with the best of quality materials for enhanced durability. The durability had to withstand not only the test of time, but slight rain, and maybe or crash or two. With that, we discovered that the highest of brands had a high-tech crash system technology with obstacle detection sensors that could recognize when there was an obstacle in the way

If a user did not opt-in for the most expensive one, well even the lower end ones for beginners would include a crash guard barrier on the propellers as a safety measure for the device and individuals. The most common is that many brands would include extra propellers in case of a crash or a propeller breaks, which only adds to the quality of the brand and their reassurance to help the consumer as much as they can during their trial and error process.

Materials

When it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles, we had to ensure that the best materials were used per different one. Of course, the ones that are of a lesser cost will have lesser quality materials. An example of this is the DJI brand, that focuses on creating some of the best ones in the industry. Many brands will use other materials such as aluminum hinges and polycarbonate.

With that in mind, the material is meant to withstand the test of time either way. Now, for the common material, it seems that plastic was the most common and so, many different brands will offer plastic types, especially if the price is very cost friendly. Other than that, one of the aspects that we took into consideration when taking the overall material into the review is how the materials correlate to each other. Important aspects that we took into consideration as far as the material design of it includes; body, the remote, the propellers, the inside materials used. (to avoid overheating, etc.)

Speaking of the inside of the device, let’s move towards one of the most important aspects of it. The specs!

Ease of Use

When thinking about flying it, individuals tend to get a bit intimidated by the idea of flying a machine as fast as this. With that said, one of the most important criteria to take into consideration was the ease of use of it and the remote and how users can expect that it will function. Now, as far as of ease of use, we not only wanted to include the flying of the device, but we also wanted to take other factors into consideration.

The factors we took into consideration when thinking about ease of use was also how to use the remote, how to connect it to the remote, how to put the device together, and how to reach the instruction manual. All of this together compiled the criteria that we see now, which was used to evaluate the quality and value of it alongside the many other factors we have talked about. Which leads us to one of the most important areas, one that never skips a beat!

Value

As we talk about cost and value, our goal was to share and showcase the best ones in the industry that ranged in price. As one will see, not all of them are priced the same or in the same bracket. Most of the unmanned aerial vehicles, in fact, are priced differently and offer different levels of value of the cost. As far as value, it all depends on what an individual is looking for. Whether it is a flying one specifically for speed, a specifically for camera shooting, or a recreational one used for fun and games, value has to always be above the cost, so users feel that they are getting their money’s worth. Which leads us to the next criteria, one we added in as an extra criterion to take into consideration.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
Sort criterias acording to:
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Click on a to rate the most important criteria:
#1
ico Advanced Features
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#2
ico Durability
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#3
ico Materials
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#4
ico Ease of Use
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#5
ico Value
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expert tips icon
Tips for beginners

Check the weather. High winds? Are not good for them. Rain? Can also be a problem. Especially if you have to drive somewhere to have a clear space to practice flying it first, check the weather so you aren’t wasting your time. Start small. There is a learning curve when it comes to flying it—even RTF ones. Spare parts. Back up propellers and extra batteries are key pieces of your equipment.

Other Factors to Consider

Use

It’s especially important if you are a first-time user that you consider how easy it is to use your device of choice. While many introductory ones may be sold as “RTF” (“Ready To Fly”), that’s hardly true of all of them, especially not for some of the more feature-laden devices. For instance, some of the RTF ones may come with software that makes it easy for them to automatically hover, but other more advanced types may require extensive calibration and experience before the user can fully take advantage of their features. In either case, though, we recommend learning how to use it in an open field, well away from obstacles such as houses, trees, cars—and especially other people.

Features

While you may just be looking for a basic beginner model and don’t really know what features and accessories you want, the following are some of the most popular feature considerations for other users:

Cameras: Lots of them come with a camera, including HD models. For some users, though, the best action shots are only going to be had with the use of a camera specifically designed for such a purpose, such as a GoPro or other action camera.

Gimbals: A gimbal is a specifically designed external camera mount, which helps ensure you get the best possible shot, as it moves the camera away from the parts of the device that are most likely to vibrate or shake, such as the rotors or engine. Additionally, many gimbals can pivot or swivel, allowing you a wider range of shots.

Replacement blades:When you’re first learning to fly it, especially if it’s your first, accidents are quite likely. As a result, many users like to order replacement propeller blades for their device so that they can be back airborne again shortly after crashing.

Storage: Many of them also may come with a carrying case or backpack system, which aids in transporting them safely. Depending on the set-up, the carrying case may also offer additional pockets for extra batteries, propeller blades, or more.

Responsiveness

For most devices, their range is a function of battery power, its weight, and speed. Depending on what you want to use it for, you may need one that can go miles (if this is the case, make sure you know relevant aviation laws and how they apply to them or you may only need it to go across the yard. Keep in mind, of course, that you don’t want to send your device somewhere where it won’t have the battery to get back, and while many options will indicate that they’re running low on power, that isn’t universal. Additionally, the ability of them to communicate between the remote control and onboard receiver also makes a difference in range; for instance, many of them have better range when they can work on a WiFi network. Lastly, keep in mind that in many states not only is keeping it in visual range a good idea for safety, but it may also be a legal requirement.

Safety Hazards

Laws applicable to those devices may vary state-by-state, but there are also FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) laws that apply to all of them. For instance, most states require them to be in visual range at all times—but some states allow exceptions to this rule if it has a real-time video camera. Additionally, they are usually banned from coming within various distances of airports, military bases, and other locations, dependent on the national, state, and local laws. Before you fly it, you should be sure you know all the relevant regulations.

Similarly, you should be sure you know the potential dangers of its usage. Be sure you know that all pieces are securely attached, there are no sharp edges that could do you (or others) damage should you crash it. And of course, you always want to be aware of all potential obstacles in your flight area, especially those that could cause you danger—such as power lines.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Who (brand/company) builds the highest quality, most practical and/or useful unmanned aerial vehicles for personal use? What are their key selling points?

a:

We are considering only premium brands and not knock-offs or generic ones, which are sometimes a great value for what they cost but we want to highlight the best overall. This reflects the overall market and not the particular product releases of any given year, as you will notice if you study our list that sometimes the best brands come out with models that are put in the shadow of up-and-comers. They are becoming a popular product and this is our take on the most innovative personal use makers as of 2018.

Now, you may or may not be familiar with DJI. That depends on how interested or knowledgeable in drones at the moment I suppose. DJI has a hardy selection of extremely high-quality ones for both work purposes and photography/videography. Check out their stuff if you fit that bill. Now, if you want an agile, fast one with a reputation for great battery life and long-lasting batteries in general, look into Parrot. Last but not least, we want to give a mention to Go-pro who burst on the scene with their Karma. Although not the most significant one, it is in development and we’re expecting to see a tightened up model soon. As is, for go-pro owners they couldn’t have released it fast enough. If you own a GoPro and want to take it to the air, they are a great option. These are all just options. As for the best brand, that’s your decision.

q: What are the general rules/regulations for ownership and usage in the United States?

a:

Etiquette aside, there are tons and tons of rules you will need to follow as an operator and/or owner. Factors include whether you are operating a business, non-profit, personal or recreational plus your immediate location, but it doesn’t end there. This amount of detail and the accuracy needed when producing a statement dealing with legal matters such as regulations warrants a full guide on this subject. We will fully break down everything you will need to know about their usage and point you in the right direction. We can assure that if you’re operating it anywhere on public land, there are some things you will be good to be aware of.

q: What drones need to be registered?

a:

All of them that weighs in between 0.55lbs & 55lbs are required to be registered as of the 19th of February 2016. Penalties of flying without proper paperwork or registration could be a fine of upward above twenty-thousand dollars or a few years behind bars. The laws are constantly contested and the tide seems to always be changing in these matters so we will keep up to date and provide fresh information as it’s presented.

q: Is it water resistant?

a:

So, this happened to be one of the most common questions that individuals were interested in. Although they can have a bit of rainfall on them. It is always highly recommended by each brand that the devices should not be exposed to massive rain or a lot of water. The reason being is that with a lot of rain, the electronic mechanism of it can easily destroy it. Now, think about a device that has a camera attached? The camera, unless it has an anti-moisture or water coating, will not last very long in water or rain. Therefore, it is vital that individuals only fly above a body of water if they know how to fly it appropriately.

q: Does the brand offer extra propellers?

a:

This is one of the most frequently asked questions for one reason and one reason only, accidents! Can you imagine being an individual that hits a tree and all of a sudden discover to not have any propellers? What we discovered in the search for the best ones was that many of the brands offer extra propellers, some brands more than others considering them are of cheaper quality. For example, more high-end brands will offer only one or two sets of extra gear while cheaper brands will offer three or four because the propellers are not of the highest quality material and so, adding extra would be no problem. It is always best to check out each individual brand and what they offer before purchasing.

q: Does they come with a carrying case?

a:

This is one of the most frequently asked questions for many reasons. For starters, a high-end manufacturer will always include a carrying case since most camera ones are used for traveling purposes. Other than that, many of them under a certain price will not come with a carrying case or the best quality carrying case. What we can say, is that it is always best to look at what comes in the packaging because it will vary depending on the brand.

q: What is the camera quality?

a:

This is a question that only pertains to the devices that have a camera. Now, the ones with a camera range widely. For example, some of them are specifically made for professional shooting such as HD or 4k video, while others are made for more recreational shooting due to 720hd video or photo. Another cool aspect of camera ones is that different makers produce them with different qualities. For example, some camera devices are designed to be used with a virtual reality headset, so an individual can get a birds-eye view of their environment. Now, who said humans can’t fly?!

q: What is the average time in the air?

a:

As the last question in the air, we realized this was a very common question. Overall, no device is fun if it can only run for a short amount of time. However, we can say that it seems that the lower quality ones within a certain bracket only run for 4-7 minutes, which is relatively low considering high-end ones run for 20+ minutes. Another aspect to take into consideration is that most of them have a rechargeable battery so users can recharge one battery as they use the other to fly. With that said, if a user wants a long run time, they should opt-in for a more expensive option. In any case, it is always best to consult with the brand manufacturer and what the running time specs of the drone are.