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Best Drones 2015

Best Drones 2015
By

Drones aren't just for paparazzi and film crews anymore. A simple beginner's model can cost less than $100, with camera drones starting at a few hundred dollars. More complex drones, starting at less than $1,000, offer customizable and programmable features, turning them into truly autonomous devices that can make their own decisions.

Read on to see our choices for different types of flying and budgets. Below our recommendations, you can find our tips on shopping for a drone and what rules you need to follow.

What You Need to Know Before You Buy and Fly

Drones aren't that complicated, but there are a few key features you should consider when you are shopping. There are also some key rules you need to follow when you take to the air.

Legal Requirements

You don't need a license to operate a recreational drone, but the FAA has rules you have to follow. The most important two: Never fly around or above people, and always keep your drone in sight. The FAA has a full list of safety guidelines for model aircraft that you should check before you take off. There are also restrictions on where you can fly: For example, within 5 miles of an airport is off limits. Mapbox provides a great interactive map of no-fly areas, and local RC (Remote Control) aircraft clubs may list fields that they use.

Drone Controls

Most drones use a remote control with two joysticks — a bit like an Xbox or PlayStation controller. One stick controls what's called the attitude of the quadcopter, including roll (tilting left and right) and pitch (tilting up and down). The other stick controls throttle and the rotation of the quadcopter. A good remote control should fit well in the hand, with sticks resting comfortably under your thumbs and providing a smooth, responsive feel that allows you to guide the quadcopter by touch.

Some models skip the remote control, or offer it as an extra-cost feature, and instead use a smartphone connected via Wi-Fi and a flying app. These apps often provide a live video view from the quadcopter camera. However, apps don’t allow the precision of real controllers: It is easier for your thumbs to slip, possibly causing a crash.

Construction and Repair

Despite what the ads tell you, drones crash all the time. A good drone will take an unplanned descent and ground interface (aka: a crash) in stride, without damaging the frame. It will also include shields to protect the rotors and electronics from harm.

Regardless, things still get broken sometimes. A good drone will offer a ready supply of cheap parts like rotors and struts to replace the broken ones, and will make it easy to swap these parts out when required. The same is true of batteries.

Batteries

Very few drones offer more than 10 to 20 minutes of battery life, so an easily swapped battery can give you more flying time without hassle. This tends to be a feature of more expensive models, with a spare battery typically costing more than $100. Cheap drones (under about $400) usually have built-in batteries that can't be swapped out.

Camera

Want to show off your aerial exploits? A camera, either built-in or add-on, can capture those dramatic vistas for posterity. Most budget models use the equivalent of a cheap webcam, capturing low-resolution video (usually 640 x 480-pixel resolution) to an internal memory card for later viewing.

More sophisticated models offer high-definition video capture or the ability to connect an HD action camera such as a GoPro. Some drones also offer first-person view (FPV), sending a pilot's-eye view from the drone itself to a phone or tablet. Some models offer video goggles for the ultimate pilot-seat flying experience.

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Display all 24 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    DannBerg , December 5, 2014 4:59 AM
    QUOTED SPAM REDACTED - SS

    The domination has already begun!
  • 1 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.
  • 0 Hide
    HomeMarketer , March 29, 2015 11:31 AM
    what drone would be good for a novice? something durable for the imminent crashes ..
  • 1 Hide
    lourson , April 22, 2015 12:31 PM
    @HomeMarketer: The article has been updated, the best drone for a novice is the UDI U818A: http://www.amazon.com/UDI-U818A-2-4GHz-RC-Quadcopter/dp/B00D3IN11Q?tag=bom-tomsguide-20
  • 0 Hide
    sslewis , April 30, 2015 7:11 AM
    My needs are a bit different: we are surveying gold mining sites in Zambia. rugged country. so I need something that has a significant range. what can you guys suggest?
  • 0 Hide
    jpishgar , April 30, 2015 7:41 AM
    Parrot's Bebop, aka the AR Drone 3.0, with the Skycontroller has a range of 2 kilometers - and might serve your purpose. Your other main consideration will likely be durability, but that's tougher to gauge in drones.

    -JP
  • 1 Hide
    MY8S , May 1, 2015 2:17 PM
    Why is there no mention of flight time / battery duration?
    I am looking for a decent simple quad with a longer flight time than 10 minutes..
    Most that I have looked at are between 5 and 10 minutes.
    It would be helpful to let the people know which have the longest flight and which have interchangeable batteries.
  • Pretty much a useless review. No mention of what sort of RANGE the control systems have at all. Is it 20 meters or 20 miles? It kind of matters.
  • 0 Hide
    walt_k , May 5, 2015 11:43 PM
    This is clearly an article written with hot-links to purchase products. It has nothing to do with an honest and fair assessment of the 'best' drones of 2015. Walt
  • 0 Hide
    debin rai , May 12, 2015 7:50 AM
    we are just a high school student and are in gorkha ,nepal(one of the most earthquake affected area) . we are doing social service to the victims from our club. and we also want to make documentry about the sudden broke of earthquake on april 25, 2015 in nepal. we dont know much about you guys, but where ever you guys are , might probably know about the present sisuation of nepal. so which type of drone would you guys like to suggest us.
    thanks
  • 0 Hide
    Adam William , May 14, 2015 12:04 PM
    Most drones are a 2 hour charge time followed by a max of 7-25 minute fly time. Why anyone is spending hundreds of $$$ for such a poor battery life is beyond me. Drones need a few more years development imo.
  • 0 Hide
    Mivan47 , May 19, 2015 1:45 PM
    Another consideration is the type of motor magnet being used. The neodymium magnets lose strength over time. I have some very expensive German motors that can attest to that. I am planning to build my own drone and intend to use samarium-cobalt motors sourced from astroflight.
  • 0 Hide
    ardkoore , May 20, 2015 9:36 PM
    I can relate always want a drone finally find one under $500 with hd cam and gps fly for 30 + minute and have a extra battery don't spend over $800 for no drone personally it dos not worth it and when shopping seek out flying time very important some company dos not mention it .
  • 0 Hide
    Paganson , May 24, 2015 9:38 PM
    Well the obvious Quad for a beginner would be the Syma X5C or the X-11 Hornet ... hands down to most stable and durable Quads for the price. Then perhaps a step up to the Syma x8c to get the feel of flying larger quads then up to Hobby Quality models like the Wltoys V303 or the Cheerson x-20 for GPS capabilities .
  • 0 Hide
    Willie0 , May 25, 2015 2:23 PM
    Quote:
    Find the best drones for aerial videography and photography as well as our quadcopter recommendations for beginners and buyers on a budget.


    Best Drones 2014 : Read more


    whats your price range?
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