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Best Drones 2015

Best Drones 2015
By , Jill Scharr

A new perspective on yourself and the world around you is always a good thing — and now it's easier than ever, thanks to the explosive popularity of consumer remote-piloted drones.  

But it's not just photographers and people with bird envy who are flying drones. Many hobbyists love the challenge of flying quadcopters — drones with four propellers — which take a significant amount of skill to fly. An overwhelming majority of today's drones are quadcopters, due to their relative mechanical simplicity compared with the more stable helicopter design.

As drone ownership has grown in popularity, so has the number of rules and restrictions involving drone flight. The FAA has a set of guidelines for recreational flying, which include staying away from manned aircraft, keeping the drone in sight and not charging people money for your flights. You’ll also want to keep your flying under about 500 feet, since any higher than that can bring you into airspace shared with manned helicopters and other aircraft.

The National Park Service (NPS) has also banned drones in all national parks in the United States, citing concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks.

But there are still plenty of spaces to fly your drone — anywhere from your own backyard to nearly any city and state park. Drone owners can also seek out their nearest RC (radio control) club, locally organized drone user associations, where they can share reserved flight areas and meet other flying enthusiasts.

If you’re ready to dive into the world of unmanned aircraft, here are the best drones you can buy.

What to Look For

Battery Life

Most modern drones have an average battery life of between 10 to 12 minutes That’s plenty of time for short-flight missions, but operators may soon find themselves longing for more in-flight time. One way to circumvent this limit is to purchase a drone with a removable battery, then stock up on fully charged batteries.

Higher-end drones boast up to 25 minutes of flight time, which should be more than enough for the average flier. Many of these drones also have a special feature that overrides your controller and flies the drone back to you once the battery reaches critical levels. With multiple fully charged batteries, these drones can easily run for hours, requiring only a few stops home for new batteries.


Getting a drone in the air is only the first step for most fliers — it’s the view from those great heights that really puts the world in perspective. A large number of today’s drones feature either built-in or attachable cameras, beaming down images of all the in-flight action.

Some drones work directly with a separately purchased GoPro camera, which captures some of the highest-quality footage currently available. High-end drones also include image stabilization, eliminating choppy segments that can sometimes overpower peaceful flight footage.

Other drones have built-in cameras, which often record directly to an SD Card. While this footage isn’t nearly as nice as any captured by a GoPro, it's a great way to dip your toes into aerial photography.

If you want to view the flight footage in real time, some drones offer first-person-view transmitting, sending live video directly to the aircraft’s controller or to a linked iPhone or Android device. This works great when you want to quickly turn on the live feed, but it will drain your battery fast if you use it for the entire flight.

Top Picks

MORE: EHANG Ghost Drone Hands-on

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Follow Dann Berg @dannberg and on Google+ or at Novice No Longer. Email Jill Scharr at or follow her @JillScharr and Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 0 Hide
    DannBerg , December 5, 2014 4:59 AM

    The domination has already begun!
  • 0 Hide
    91gcathy , December 5, 2014 9:42 PM
    Hey guys - I decided to get my first drone - a JJRC H8C 2.4G 4CH 6 Axis RC Quadcopter With 2MP Camera RTF - a good little thing that doesn't break my bank if something happens to it but has a nice camera that I like to implement.

    However, I've been meaning to get another battery to charge up and use when the battery in it has died. However, I have not the faintest idea where to get these other batteries. Does any know where I can buy another rechargeable batter that will fit my drone?
  • 0 Hide
    Ewhitten1980 , March 8, 2015 10:07 AM
    Most of the drones on this list aren't that good. Some are but some have me questioning the validity and experience of the author. Where is the yuneec q500 on this list? Where is the 3d robotics iris+ on this list? Seems to me like this is a sponsored post as the two quads I just mentioned are two of most talked about quads outside the Phantom. This list seems bogus and/or I have a lot of RC experience. I've taken a screen shot to post all over the place, in case this post gets deleted.... Bc if it does...that means comments are censored. If comments are censored, then you know this list is rigged.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , March 8, 2015 1:34 PM
    We tend to remove posts from new members which seem to be outright shilling. Because spam is bad.

    I don't have anything to do with the article side of things; no-one has told me which brands are OK and which aren't.
  • 0 Hide
    Ewhitten1980 , March 8, 2015 1:39 PM
    I guess that makes sense... I guess my question would be how an article can claim what the best is... If they aren't all clearly listed. I mean some of the quads in the list which I won't name are really subpar.. So I'm trying to understand what determined the selection? It just doesn't look good to those experienced in this hobby who know what from what. For me... It's an issue bc I've used some of these lists in other fields I'm not well versed in. Now I question the credibility of the other lists on this site. Not trying to bash or anything... I hope you understand my point here.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , March 8, 2015 1:48 PM
    Note that the article was published last year; it probably isn't being continually updated.

    You could PM the author if you wish.
  • 0 Hide
    Stuntman75 , March 9, 2015 2:53 AM
    Needs to be noted, that the Author states that the Hubsan H107L does not have a removable battery. This is false. You can buy spares and switch them out all day long.
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