With so many different quadcopters flooding the market in 2016, it can be difficult to know which model to choose. There are plenty of inexpensive, simple models that are appealing to first time users, but there is also the distraction of the new, high-tech options.
This RC Quadcopters buying guide will highlight some of the key considerations when choosing a model this year and some of the top products.
What Sort Of Drone Are You Looking For?
Before delving into the sales pages of all these different companies and choosing between the various models, it is important to consider what you are looking for from a drone.
What is your skill level, how much are you willing to learn to get the most of out the product and what is your purpose? Do you need to get a complicated model with all the best features or will a more simplistic, user-friendly model do the job?
Your choice will depend on personal needs and the application of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) or drone, but also on your confidence in using one. Don’t go straight for the high-end complex model if you have never flown before.
There are plenty of reasons for wanting to own a quadcopter and plenty of models out there that claim to be up to the job. For many buyers, these drones are purely for recreational purposes.
They can be used by novices for aerial photography or simply as a toy for flying practice in the park, but there are also commercial and industrial applications in filming, delivery, and surveillance.
Amateur filmmakers can get sweeping shots of a landscape or report from a difficult situation, and they can be used to drop packages and information to remote recipients. With so many potential applications, there are plenty of versions of drones out there, and the list just keeps growing.
Key Features When Choosing A 2016 RC Quadcopter
The wingspan is the measurement from the blade tip to blade tip, and this is vital when considering the purpose of your drone.
Are you looking for a reliable, large model to fly outside for aerial photography or just a little toy that can be used indoors and outdoors? A 100mm drone can zip around indoor spaces with ease, but a 400mm one is best kept outside.
How long do you need your drone to stay up in the air for? Is this for quick flights with friends or more important projects? Some drones will only stay airborne for 10 minutes before they need recharging, but others can go for double that. Look out for the average flight time and charging time in the specification and remember that tricks and altitude changes can affect the performance.
These remote controlled drones require a transmitter to send the right signals, and some controllers are more simplistic than others. You may get little more than two analog sticks and a power button, or it could have additional buttons for tricks and other commands.
A camera may not be necessary for all first-time drone pilots, but many come with some form of a system for photography or video. Different models will have different cameras – from tiny low-res options to more impressive set-ups depending upon your requirement.
The use of sensors isn’t all that necessary if you are just starting out and learning to fly these drones, but they can be helpful on some of the expensive, versatile models out there. GPS sensors are a great way of keeping a quadcopter on target and bringing it back to its starting point.
Four Of The Best Quadcopters In 2016
1. DJI Phantom 3: $494
DJI Phantom 3 is seen as the model with the most value for money for newcomers because it offers an excellent introduction to drone-based photography and a great spec at a fair price.
The system is easy enough to set up and control with a minimal learning curve, and users are quickly able to get some decent shots. You may not be able to upgrade the 12mp camera, but you should be able to get some stable aerial images and 720p video streams thanks to the controls, 25min flight time and 4S 4480mAh Li-Po battery.
2. UDI 818A-I-P: $79.99
UDI 818A-I-P drone is a top seller on Amazon, and it is easy to why with that simple shape, small price tags and apparent ease of use. This is classed as a beginner model, and while it may not have the longest flight time for 7-9 minutes, it has simple controls and a camera.
The other great selling point is that it is pretty much kid-proof. It can be operated in and out of the doors with no fear of crashes because it is small, durable and well-built.
3. Syma X5C: $43.46
This option also comes under the heading of beginner-friendly because of the ease of flying, the simple controls and the lack of any complicated extras.
This does mean that the 2mp camera isn’t the best quality option around, but you can’t expect too much at that price, and this is still an excellent choice for those that are just learning to fly. The flight time is short at seven minutes, but the USB charger gets you back in the sky in 90 minutes for another practice flight.
4. Hubsan X4 (H107C): $36:45
Hubsan X4 is the fun, basic model for indoor flying with its modern design and small body, but this means that there are some clears pros and cons. For a low-priced, AA battery powered toy, this option lets users perform a surprising amount of tricks, and it has a decent camera on board.
There are also LED lights and a propeller guard. The problem is that it is not the sturdiest of models, and the size means that it can’t fly very far for very long.
What Is The Best Option For You?
Hopefully, these RC quadcopters buying guide has shown that there are plenty of choices out there no matter your interest in flying drones. With these tips and a clearer idea of what it is you are looking for in your first drone, you can find a product that suits your needs and provides the ideal experience.
This list could all change by the time 2017 comes around, as new advancements are made, so keep an eye out for new models and potential upgrades.