Best Quadcopters and Drones for 2016
If you're one of the many people looking at a quadcopter, these are the best tested, plus what
you need to know to choose the perfect one. Even if you don't have a good reason to
justify acquiring one, you must agree that drones are so cool. And if you've ever
thought about buying a quadcopter, but you've been able to wait this
There's good news the technology has come a long way in a such a very short amount of time. There are new
models on the market that simply put last year's quadcopters to shame when it comes to video
quality and stabilization.
But here's the bad news You always get what you pay for, and if you desire an aerial video
'coptor that can acquire stunning footage, be ready to spend
some serious money. Because drone 'coptors are so pricey, it pays to do
your homework before getting one. I've researched many of these ready-to-fly models to discover want to look for, and find the cream of the crop.
There are low-cost drones on the market, but you'll still looking at around $500 out of pocket to get a solid 'coptor that's stable in flight containing an excellent integrated camera. Filling that bill is the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. It acquires 2.7K video that's similar in quality to the much pricier Phantom 3 Advanced, however its operating range isn't quite as good. The Xiro Xplorer V can purchased for around $500 or so, but its 1080p camera is somewhat to be desired, compared to the Phantom.
If you don't want to to spend that much, the Parrot Bebop, sells for around $350, and can be a good choice, as long as you are aware of its limitations. It's not a high, or fast flyer, but it can be fun platform if you're looking for a small quad that can execute flips and rolls. It's a fun, durable option. However, you will need to fly using your smartphone or tablet, unless you reslove to spend a lot more coin on the Bebop with the Skycontroller around $899.99, but at that price, you're better off acquiring a more capable drone. The Bebop 2 has been released now, comes in both tablet and Skycontroller configurations, although it sells for signficantly more money, around $550 for the Bebop 2 alone, and $800 when purchased with the Skycontroller.
DJI models currently dominate the top spots, and there's a good reason for that. To put it simply, the company is a few steps ahead of the competition at this point in time. It added big improvements over the older Phantom 2 Vision+ when they announced the the Phantom 3 line for video quality, flight stability, and overall ease of use. And the newest Phantom 4, the first drone adds an obstacle avoidance system. However newer models offer such vast improvements that I don't recommend buying any aging quadcopter at this point in time.
Having said that, the Phantom 4 is pricey at $1,400, leaving the Phantom 3 series is still on the front burner of many drone shoppers. There's the Standard model for entry-level shoppers, Or you can choose the next step up, the Phantom 3 4K, selling for around $800 and uses the identical Wi-Fi control system as the Standard, but raises the video resolution to 4K. Also the Phantom 3 Advanced, is in that price range which captures video at up to 2.7K but provides the same rock-solid Lightbridge streaming and control system on the Phantom 3 Professional and the Phantom 4.
Another top choice is the DJI Inspire 1. It's engineered for more serious use than Phantom models. Made of Carbon fiber , a camera that has the ability to swing around in any direction, plus there's dual-operator control, one person flies while another operates the camera, which sets it apart from consumer models. The version I flew, includes a 4K camera that's a match to the Phantom 3 Professional in quality, and goes for around $2,900 featuring a single remote control, or $3,300 for the dual-operator version containing a second remote.
Safety and Regulations
All of the models on this page have some safety features. Even the Bebop, which wasn't created for long distance flight, but includes a GPS and automatic Return Home function. If your control signal is disrupted, or if the battery gets too low (most drones can only fly for around 20 minutes on a single battery charge), your drone will start to return to its takeoff location and land. If you're overly concerned about losing your drone to a flyaway you can add on a GPS tracking device . The Flytrex Live 3G is available for many popular models and sends out location data to the cloud constantly using a 3G cellular connection. Flyaways still occur, and there are horror stories on many Internet discussion forums. Of course, these negative experiences are exaggerated in this context, simply because commonplace flights that don't result in a crash or losing a drone aren't hot discussion topics.
Exploring the Northern Lights in Iceland with a Drone, flying over epic landscape in Reykjanes Peninsula. Filmed with: Matrice 600 Camera: Sony A7sii
Lens: Sigma 20mm 1.4 Music by Lights And Motion - The Spectacular Quiet Location: Reykjanes Iceland Filmed by: OZZO Photography
If you're flying inside the United States, you'll need to comply with FAA guidelines, or be prepared to face potential fines or time in jail. FAA has set no-fly zones, so don't take off when you're near an airport without first notifying the control towert. And, even if you're way out in the middle of nowhere, don't fly your drone above 400 feet. Most drones come set to comply these regulations right out of the box, however controlling a quadcopter is just like driving a
car, even if you didn't see that speed limit sign, you'll still be liable to pay the fine.
Be sure to read the current FAA guidelines before purchasing. If your new drone weighs over half a pound, you must register it with the FAA.
Ultimately, it's hard to go wrong with any of the models listed on this page.