The goal of finding the correct drone for you is a rather daunting task. With so many models, brands and types available today, it can all lead to just utter confusion. This guide is aimed at introducing some of the best drones in the market. These are drones that would help anyone from first timers to film makers. If you’re a complete beginner wanting to learn how to fly, or an expert pilot looking for a high end camera drone to shoot a video, or anything in-between, I believe that I have got you covered.
With that being said, here are my top five drones for the month.
Hubsan X4 Pro High Edition
The Hubsan X4 Pro High Edition is a drone equipped with a Full HD 1080p camera. It is capable of a total flight time of upto 27 minutes with a full payload. This time can be further increased by taking off the camera, amounting to a total of 40 minutes’ flight time. The key feature that makes the X4 Pro top the list is its GPS System, which lets you safely fly it with ease. With this GPS system, you can simply draw the route on the map. The X4 will then take photos of each turning point or record videos of the entire route. All without any supervision whatsoever.
Remotely, the X4 Pro can be flown up to 1.5 km which is bit further than the average and approved operating range for drones in Sri Lanka. So you’ll have to be careful that you don’t go a bit too high with this drone. The X4 Pro Standard version comes with a FPV 1 transmitter with the 3.7 inch LCD screen. Additionally, the Hubsan X4 Pro is one of the first drones to feature a parachute.
This parachute system is aimed at reducing the damage to the drone in the event of a collision. As such, if the X4 Pro gets into a collision then the parachute will automatically activate to help prevent the X4 Pro from facing severe damage. This parachute can be removed and reused several times. However, Hubsan doesn’t guarantee the parachute will protect the drone completely. Rather, it will merely attempt to reduce the damage taken. Nonetheless, few other drone manufacturers have included such features in their drones.
Price – LKR 150,000/-
The manufacturer, 3DR Robotics, claims that the SOLO is the world’s smartest drone. While that’s debatable, this might be the drone for you if you’re interested in taking action shots. The SOLO is a drone which you can mount your Go Pro onto it to create a versatile action drone. The SOLO itself is fairly powerful with two computers in the main body.
But what makes the SOLO special is its controller. The controller resembles that of a video game controller to make the SOLO easy to operate. The controller features a dedicated pause button that when pressed activates an air brake, which stops the drone in mid-air for a few seconds. Additionally, the controller features other buttons dedicated to: landing, take off, and returning without any input from you.
Paired with the two computers and the controller, the SOLO offers a number of advanced features such as smart shots (where the SOLO would take pictures and select the best ones between two points) and autopilot (which makes the drone fairly easy to operate).
Additionally, the SOLO features a 5200 mAH battery that gives it 20 – 25 minutes of flight time. Depending on the payload and weather, it can reach speeds of upto 55mph. Furthermore, it has a range of 1KM allowing it to capture both high speed and long distances.
The only catch with the SOLO is that you can only mount a Go Pro camera on this drone. While it does support a wide variety of Go Pro cameras, not all of them are supported. However, if you’re looking at mounting a DSLR camera then you’re out of luck.
Price – LKR 175,000/-
Parrot Bebop 2
Parrot has a number of various drone models. Most are aimed at being gaming drones rather than industrial drones. Essentially this means that these drones are tiny, lightweight, canfly long distances and are stable during flight. My pick among these would be the Parrot Bebop 2.
The Parrot Bebop 2 features a durable body, higher quality camera and lengthy flight time. It’s packed with ultrasound and pressure sensors to measure its altitude. Meanwhile a three-axis gyroscope ensures the drone is always stable while it’s in the air. On the outside, the Bebop 2 is equipped with shockproof landing gear and covered with a glass reinforced chassis.
The drone comprises of four brushless engines allowing the Bebop 2 to reach speeds of up to 37mph horizontally and 13mph vertically. Additionally, the Bebop 2 packs at 2700 mAH battery that gives it a flight time of 25 minutes. To control this tiny drone, all you need is your phone or tablet.
The Bebop 2 can be controlled by the FreeFlight 3 app, which is available on both Android and iOS. With the app, you can connect to the drone via Wi-Fi to control it. For even smoother control, you can invest in the optional “Skycontroller” remote controller. This two handed controller features dual joysticks for better control. It also offers a Wi-Fi extender that allows the Bebop 2 to have a range of 1.5 KM.
So what’s the catch? Well, you can’t fix any Go Pro or other external cameras on the Bebop 2. Instead, the only pictures or videos you can take with this drone is with its 14 Mega Pixel on-board camera. The camera is equipped with a fish-eye lens, allowing it to take stable yet only wide angle shots. The images taken for the camera can be livestreamed onto your phone.
Price – LKR 65,000/- upwards.
Meet the multipurpose drone from the makers of GoPro. Like the Bebop 2, the Karma can also be controlled via an app. It also packs away neatly into a lightweight case that you can carry around easily. Unpack it and you’ll find the drone itself, a grip handheld mount, a controller with built-in display, its battery and charger, and other accessors such as extra propellers.
What sets the Karma apart from the rest is its controller. It features a built-in display, buttons to help you maneuver the drone along with buttons for takeoff and landing. However, as simple as the drone is to use, the screen, much like your phone becomes tough to read on bright sunny days.
Furthermore, despite being produced by a camera manufacturer, the GoPro Karma doesn’t come with a camera by default. Rather, GoPro offers bundles where you can get the Karma with a variety of GoPro cameras. Nonetheless, the Karma can reach speeds of 35mph and reach heights of 14,500 ft.
Price LKR. 120,000/- without a camera
DJI Mavic Pro
The Mavic Pro has all the bells and whistles you would need. It has a total of 24 high performance computing cores, an all-new transmission system with the range of up to 6KM, four vision sensors and a 4k camera. The camera is stabilized by a three axis mechanical gimbal. The Mavic Pro is essentially DJI’s most sophisticated drone ever. Capable of reaching speeds up to 40mph, the Mavic pro has a flight time of upto 27 minutes, and can capture true smooth 4K footage.
In addition, the Mavic Pro also proves that drones are ultra-portable, and are capable of being folded up for easy transportation. The Mavic Pro takes this to the extreme by folding up to the size of a water bottle, enabling you to carry it anywhere.
The Mavic Pro also comes equipped with the latest OcuSync transmission technology. This means that the drone is controllable from a range of up to 4 miles. In addition, the Mavic Pro also utilizes Flight Autonomy for a range of purposes. The built in sensors can detect obstacles as far away as 50ft and avoid them accordingly. It can also hover precisely in certain environments and land almost exactly where it took off.
Perhaps what sets the Mavic Pro apart from the rest of the drones lies in the quality of the photos and videos that it captures. Thanks to the integrated high precision three axis mechanical stabilization system, footage is crystal clear in true 4K, captured at 30FPS (frames per second).
The Mavic Pro also has ActiveTrack technology. This essentially allows the drone to track an object and it will do so accordingly, following behind, in front or in parallel to a subject. It can also circle the object whilst doing this or just keep the subject in focus while the drone itself flies almost anywhere.
Price – LKR 180,000/-.
Did you find the drones you were looking for?
Well there you have it. These are my top picks for drones. If you’re on the lookout for a drone, then you can go ahead and give one of these a shot. In the end though, it’s upto you to decide which model suits you.
Always do your research before committing to buying a drone. These devices are quite an investment so make sure to get one that suits your needs without going overboard. Read up on reviews, videos and FAQs as these teach you tips on how to properly operate, maintain and repair your drone if needed.
Make sure you are aware of the local laws for drone flight and operation. There’s a handy guide you can check out as well.
Nishan Rathnayake is a Technology Professional specialized in Technology Management currently utilizing his expertise in multinational apparel organization. His foremost passion is progressing technology and has involved in research and innovation projects about Drone and UAV Technology for the past 5 years, which he believes to be positively exploited in many industries in future.