“Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum, Kalman Filter, ZigBee”
If these sci-fi words sound like Sulu’s explanation for why the Enterprise can’t go to warp, chances are you’re a drone-tech newbie. However, never let complicated jargon block your enjoyment of one of the fastest growing recreational hobbies of the decade — with global sales of drones expected to exceed $89 billion over the next 10 years.
In fact, Charlotte entrepreneur Charles Pierre, owner of Helicopter Hobbies, stopped selling radio-controlled helicopters and started mostly selling drones this year. “This thing’s just growing so fast,” he recently told the Charlotte Observer. “This is like the Internet boom.”
Perhaps you’re not ready to dive into a world rife with intervalometers, octocopters and gyros (not the delicious Greek wrap). Maybe instead you want to simply take a baby-step flight with a drone designed for newbies and DRONELIFE can help.
Here are three drones (also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – UAVs) that won’t overwhelm your learning curve or your wallet.
Parrot AR 2.0
The Parrot AR 2.0 offers two features that put it head and shoulders above the rest: fly-out-of-the-box ease of use and a free mobile app allowing the user to send the Parrot skyward using a smartphone or tablet. In addition, the Parrot can live-stream video (at 720p resolution) to your device and even save the footage. Finally, if you’re not comfortable in the wide-open blue skies, the Parrot AR 2.0 is capable of staying indoors. Although the drone isn’t the lowest price in the “under $500” category, it’s a bargain for the newcomer who wants to stop waiting and begin flying.
The Hubsan X4
If price tags are your largest concern, look no further than the Hubsan X4. This “Little-Drone-That-Could” gives a new pilot multiple bangs for the buck including a two-mp camera, six-axis flight control system with adjustable gyro sensitivity and four night LED lights. Although the X4 doesn’t offer the same mobile-app innovation as the Parrot AR, you’re not going to find a better beginner’s drone for under $100.
Blade 200 QX
If you’re ready to fly a drone that can actually carry a payload, the Blade 200 QX is your best bet in terms of ease of entry. Be advised, however, that the UAV does not include a camera (for the comparable system that includes a camera and stabilizing gimbal, be ready to shell out the big bucks). The QX is more designed for acrobatics — in short, allowing the pilot to have a little high-flying fun (even at night with the drone’s translucent body and internal lighting).
Hubsan Spy Hawk
So maybe rotor-type drones (i.e. quadcopters, etc.) aren’t your style. Maybe you want something that has the look and feel of a fixed-wing aircraft. Have no fear because you can wing your way into the sky with the under-$250 Hubsan Spy Hawk. Made of crash-proof material (and you WILL crash as a newbie), the Spy Hawk boasts a five-mp, HD, 1280-x-720 camera, features an auto-pilot mode and can store video in the AVI format (easy to load up on Windows Media Player, etc.). And, like a well-trained bird of prey, the Spy Hawk features a GPS return module.
Walkera QR Ladybird V2 (FPV version)
And finally, if you really just want a drone that resembles a lady bug, look no further than the QR Ladybird V2 (FPV version). For just under $220, you get a quality camera perfect for recreational photography that will also get an “aww-how-cute” response with the UAV’s plastic, insectile body — possibly the perfect gift for a budding young drone pilot.
Still seeking the best drone fit? Check out DRONELIFE’s online product selector.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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