Drones may soon join the ranks of Tickle-Me-Elmo, the Nintendo Wii and Bratz dolls as one of the most sought after Christmas presents of all time. Small UAVs are in the news every day and sales have tripled over the last year.
If you are considering purchasing a drone as a gift this year or you want to see first hand what all the fuss is about without breaking the bank, we have compiled a list of some of the most accessible drones for under $200 available this holiday season:
The Hubsan X4 is currently the face of entry-level drones. For $50, you get the quadcopter and the flight controller. While it’s not advisable to fly the X4 outside on a windy day, it is a sturdy little drone that is perfectly suited to be flown (and crashed) all over your home or office. And, once you get the hang of it, the X4 is an extremely agile little quadcopter capable of all sorts of aerial acrobatics. An SD card (sold separately) is necessary to record video, and we also recommend a propeller guard and extra propellers at checkout because these are inexpensive accessories that provide an extra level of safety and convenience.
Parrot, makers of the instantly recognizable AR Drone 2.0, recently launched the Rolling Spider as part of their ‘mini-drones’ product line. The Rolling Spider is controlled by a free app, which also live streams and saves video footage (and photos) right to your smartphone or tablet. The camera is mounted on the bottom of the drone making the Rolling Spider optimal for fly-over selfies.
Micro Drone 2.0
Extreme Fliers Micro Drone 2.0 ups the ante in price a bit but includes some features not found in the X4 or the Rolling Spider. Like the X4, the Micro Drone comes with its own flight controller. Unlike the X4, however, the Micro Drone also comes with a micro SD card and USB adapter for your computer- no additional hardware is needed to record video. Instead of having a camera mounted to the front (like the X4) or the bottom (like the Rolling Spider) the Micro Drone 2.0 has a modular camera that can be configured to point either straight ahead or straight down.
180 QX HD RTF
Blade’s 180 QX closely resembles the X4 but comes standard with SAFE technology, which is essentially the equivalent of training wheels. The SAFE technology enables several different flight modes which can limit the drone’s angle of direction relative to the flight control. The lower modes prevent rapid changes in altitude or direction, making the 180 QX more difficult to crash and allowing for very stable image capture. Higher flight modes allow for increasingly faster and agile flight, which goes hand-in-hand with increased crashes. The technology also stabilizes the drone so it can hover in place with minimal input from the controller.
The reviews for Walerka’s QR W100S are sort of a mixed bag. The only feature this model has that the others on this list do not is the ability to stream video from the camera to multiple smartphones.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com