This drone buying guide has been updated with more drone recommendations for March 2017 – the biggest additions are still DJI’s latest camera drones the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro! Make sure to check out their drone reviews!
Make sure you bookmark this page and come back regularly for more updates of this drone buying guide – I constantly revise the latest and greatest drones for sale.
So you want to buy yourself a new drone, you’ve seen all those new drones for sale everywhere…you’ve seen that they are taking the world by storm and you want a piece of the fun for yourself. I don’t blame you! As a matter of fact, I salute you for this decision! 🙂 Owning and flying drones has been one of the most exciting things I’ve done for myself in the past few years.
However, here’s the problem: You probably feel overwhelmed by all the information that’s going around – there’s just a bit too much technical stuff that you might not understand yet.
No reason to worry though. In this Drone Buying Guide, I’ll walk you through all the necessary features you need to know, which I’ll explain in a beginner-friendly way and I’ll try to list the best drones for sale in 2017.
In addition, the content will be nicely divided into separate sections for your convenience, so you can quickly jump to the topic that interests you the most.
What kind of drone are you looking for?
Since you’re here, I’d imagine you’re looking for the best drone possible for your money. But you probably realize there’s plenty of types of drones on the market – racing drones, cheap toy drones, drones for photography, sport drones etc.
So you need to decide for yourself what drone category is the one for your taste. Each model in the following categories is picked based on its features, quality, ease of use, value and user reviews. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but In my opinion those are the best drones you can buy in 2017, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Click on the picture of the category you like and you’ll be taken to that particular part of the guide and you’ll be able to read the quadcopter reviews.
Get familiar with drones
The most popular consumer drones are the quadcopters. They typically have an X- or H-shaped frame and are lifted by 4 rotors. They generally use 2 sets of identical propellers – two rotating clockwise and two rotating counter-clockwise. They also have a gyroscope and/or accelerometer to measure the aircraft’s roll, pitch and yaw – meaning how the drone is positioned in space. Using this positioning data, the rotors are automatically and individually adjusted, so the drone can hover in one place.
The quadcopters are known for their maneuverability and their safety – It is also possible to fit quadcopters with propeller guards that enclose the rotors, further reducing the potential for damage.
Not all drones are ready to fly out of the box. Often when you shop online you can see the following abbreviations:
RTF – Ready to fly. This means your unit comes with everything necessary to get it in the air within minutes from opening the package (if your batteries are charged 🙂 )
ARF – Almost Ready to Fly – This would appeal more to the hobbyists and the DIY-lovers out there. An ARF drone does not come in one piece, and often requires a good level of assembly on your end to make it ready to fly.
BNF – Bind-N-Fly. BNF products come with everything you need except for a transmitter. With BNF products you can use the transmitter of your choice and bind it to the receiver included with the model.
In this drone buying guide I’ll be listing only RTF models, as I believe they are much easier to get started with. In case you are a hobbyist which loves “DIY-stuff” and you want to learn how to build your own drone, check out this page.
Features to look for in a drone
When it comes to buying a drone for the first time, a lot of people are extremely overwhelmed. They don’t know what to look for and what features are truly important for first-timers. Below I’ll list some of the features all of the best drones possess, and I’ll explain what they do and how useful they are.
Flight time – Depending on your aircraft’s type and the size of its battery, the flight time could vary between 5 and 30 minutes. The most beginner drones have flight times of around 5-10 minutes, but their batteries are easy to swap (and much cheaper too). Many people get 3-4 extra batteries, so they simply swap them when they’re out of juice and continue the flight. However, when it comes to bigger and more expensive drones, their accessories become more expensive too. Depending on how serious you take your new hobby, you can get an additional battery (or more), and basically double your airtime. I’ve been in a couple of situations myself with my Phantom 3 when I could almost get the perfect shot that I was going for and then I run out of battery and I have to go home and charge it. This sucks, and since then I’ve learned my lesson and I never go out without a spare battery 🙂
Camera – The camera is an extremely common drone accessory. With cheaper drones, it often comes as an add-on part, and it’s up to you if you want to install it or not. Leaving it on the desk helps squeezing a few more minutes of flight time out of your aircraft, due to its lower overall weight, so in case you don’t plan to record/take photos I advise you to leave it on the ground. However, when it comes to aerial photography/videography drones, the cameras are a must (duh). Some drones rely on their own attached-to-the-body cameras, while others are GoPro (or other action camera) ready. Depending on the manufacturer, there are numerous features which could be fine-tuned, such as the ISO, the shutter speed, the size of the photo/video and much more. Take it as a professional photo/video gear that’s flying in the air. You get plenty of freedom and you can record a mind-blowing footage.
Headless mode – As we all know, every drone has a front side and a back side. When you and your drone are facing the same direction, pressing the left directional stick of your remote controller should fly your drone to the left. But when your drone turns around and its front is facing you, the controller and your drone front are in the opposite direction. Meaning pressing left will actually send the drone to your right, and vice versa. This could be very confusing, especially for the non-experienced flyers. I think it’s safe to say every drone flyer has experienced an unwanted change of direction (or crashes) because of this. But when Headless mode is activated, this problem is easily solved – as long as you turn on the mode when the remote and the front of the drone face the same direction, it will always go to the left when you press left and it will always go to the right when you press the right stick. This is great when you just want to have fun and don’t want to constantly observe the direction the drone is facing. My recommendation is to try to get used to piloting a drone without Headless mode, as this will help you in the future if you want to pilot bigger and better drones. However, taking the drone for a quick and fun flight in the park without thinking too much is a great option, which is definitely nice to have.
Return home function – The return home function does exactly what you think it does – it returns your drone to its home point with the press of a button. This feature works great in situations when you lose the aircraft from your sight, you lose control of it and you panic or simply want to return the drone where it took off. However, there’s a difference between the “Return Home” on a GPS-enabled expensive drone and a “Return Home” on a $50 toy drone.
On a GPS-powered drone, you should first wait for the drone to lock on to GPS satellites. This lets the drone know exactly where it is before takeoff, so when you hit the Return Home button it knows where to go.
On the other hand, using this feature on a cheaper aircraft without a GPS module installed, hitting the Return Home button will cause it to simply go backwards, but only when “Headless mode” is activated. Otherwise you’ll probably have to go chase your drone in the opposite direction. To summarize – if your drone does not have GPS module installed, always use the Return Home function ONLY in “Headless mode”.
3-axis gimbal – A device that keeps the camera leveled by pivoting around it.The gimbal stabilizes motion in 3 axes: pitch, roll, and yaw. This helps maintaining a stable footage throughout your flight, no matter the drone’s direction and tilt. To best emphasize on the importance of a gimbal, here’s a video demonstrating how a footage looks with gimbal vs. without a gimbal.
Range – The range of the aircraft will limit from how far you can control your drone. I advise you to think what you want to achieve with your drone before buying it. The range is very product-specific and can vary from 50-100 meters for beginner quadcopters to 5000 meters for more advanced products such as the DJI Phantom 4.
Spare parts – After you pick your first drone, you’d want to make sure you can buy spare parts for it, because very often you’ll get in situations where you’ll need them. Sometimes even a light crash could mean you need to replace your propellers, motors, camera or landing gear. So make sure you pick a model which has plenty of spare parts available. The good news is that most beginner-friendly quads already have tons of spare parts available online.
Words of advice for the beginners
Drones have limited flight times because of their batteries: Most aircrafts will signal you before the battery runs out, but make sure you keep track of your flight time.
Because of the limited flight times of most drones, you should invest in a spare battery instead of charging your only battery each time it runs out of juice.
You should not expect high-quality video recording and other premium features such as obstacle avoidance from drones under $400- $500. Here goes the saying that you get what you pay for.
Always keep your drone in sight – relying solely on the FPV (First-Person-View) is known to cause accidents, as it’s difficult to spot powerlines, incoming birds or other obstacles on your way.
If you’re based in the US and your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds you need to register it.
Why should you get a drone?
Well I’m not the one to tell you to get a drone, that’s completely up to you. But there’s something about videos like those two below that makes me want to go outside, fire up my drone and just spend hours with it – that is of course If I had unlimited flight time 🙂 .
On a serious note, the areas in which you can use a drone are rapidly expanding, so there’s plenty of things you can practice with your new hobby. Here’s just a quick teaser of what you can do with your drone:
For this category, I’m listing the best drones for beginners. These are reliable, cheap drones which can take some hits (which let’s be honest, they will). The best thing about them is that you can buy a lot of spare parts for them (such as batteries, propellers and motors) and replace them as you go through your learning period. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel a lot more confident and you’ll most probably want to jump to bigger and better aircrafts (such as the other two categories in this guide).
Without further ado, here are some of my best recommendations for beginner/casual quadcopters:
Now that we’ve got them all of the beginner drones listed, let’s get into more details about them:
1. Hubsan X4
We kick things off with one of the very best beginner drones under $100. Hell, this one goes for even under $50! If you are new to the quadcopter hobby and you just want to test the water, this is definitely a great option. This particular model does not come equipped with a camera, but on a sub-$50 drone, you probably don’t even need it. It’s a great way to learn the basics of flying and get a feeling of what it is to control a drone. The Hubsan X4 is a very slick and compact quadcopter, which can easily fit in the palm of your hand. It has LED lights on its bottom so you can easily tell which is the drone’s front and back. The battery lasts around 7-8 minutes and takes roughly 30-45 minutes to fully charge. The flying range you get with the Hubsan X4 is around 100 meters, which is much better than some of the competition. You also have 2 flying modes – Normal and Expert, depending on your flying experience. The controls of the aircraft are extremely responsive and because of that you can do tons of tricks/flips/barrel rolls with it and it’s incredibly fun to fly this little guy around.
2. Syma X5HC
One of the latest entry-level drones from Syma is the X5HC. This little guy is extremely light, sturdy and can definitely take a beating. It features a 2MP detachable camera, capable of taking surprisingly nice and clear shots for a drone from this price range. It also has headless mode and the newly added feature to the Syma X5 range – Hover mode. This mode enables the user to let go of the controller once the drone reaches a certain altitude, and the aircraft will continue to maintain this altitude until the user moves it up/down. The flight distance of this unit is roughly 30-50 meters but during my tests I was able to fly it even further, around 80-100m. You can enjoy flying the Syma X5HC for about 7-9 minutes, which is quite alright for a beginner drone, priced under $100. Check out my extensive review of the Syma X5HC here.
3. UDI 818a HD+
The UDI 818a HD+ is a great beginner quadcopter – it’s easy to control, very accurate and overall the drone is very responsive to the user’s input. The 2MP camera in this unit is clear and sharp. It also supports headless mode, which allows beginners to fly and learn the quadcopter a little bit easier.
If you’re out and about and you lose sight of the drone or you lose control you can press the “return home” button and the drone will fly right back to you.
Inside the box you get plenty of accessories, so you’ll definitely feel the aircraft’s price is worth it. First off, you get an SD Card-reader and a 4GB SD-card in the package. You also have 4 extra propellers in case the regular ones need to be replaced. The unit comes with 2 batteries (500mAh, 3.7V, charging time around 90-120 minutes), which give you flight time of around 7-9 minutes each. In case you drain your batteries quickly, you also get a 2200mAh power bank for free, so you can charge the drone while you’re on the go (you can charge both batteries at the same time). The UDI U818A HD+ has 2 different speed modes: Mode1 is a bit more scaled-down and Mode2 is more aggressive – choose the appropriate one depending on your skills.
4. Holy Stone F181
The Holy Stone F181 is an impressive quadcopter for beginners, and a really great place to start your drone experience, especially if you want a camera quadcopter. This is mainly because of the lower rates of the quadcopter – it has 4 rates, so you can start slow and build your way up as you get better. The aircraft is also great for intermediate and even advanced drone flyers and it never gets boring, because once you get to the fastest rate the drone becomes a lot of fun to play with. It has a 2MP camera, return home key, headless mode, range of around 100 meters, flying time of around 7-9 minutes and 80 minutes charging time.
5. Syma X8G
If you’re a member of a drone forum or some type of drone community, there’s a huge chance you’ve seen a topic such as “Buying my 1st drone, what should i get?”. 90% of the answers you see mention the Syma X8G. Why? Well, simply because it’s incredibly solid and feature-rich, and it’s priced at just over $100. The X8G comes with a detachable 8MP camera, which is amazing for a beginner drone such as this one. The camera is capable of filming in Full HD at 30fps or 720p at 60fps, and its holding case is compatible with GoPro cameras, so you can easily swap them for even better quality. This drone also has IOC system, which stands for Intelligent Orientation Control system. By using IOC, you can select which side of the drone you want to be its front, making it even easier to control during flight (take this as an improved version of Headless mode, which by the way is also present here). The X8G is completely RTF and comes with prop guards, SD-card for the camera, landing gear and a set of extra propellers. Overall, this is a fantastic choice for every beginner which likes to mix flying and filming, but does not want to spend a fortune on an aerial photography/videography drone just yet.
This is probably the most popular category at the moment for consumers. Drones with camera are easier than ever to grab and capture some stunning aerial footage from around the world, such as this one:
This is mostly due to the fact that the camera drones are getting smarter and easier to use with each new model produced. Currently the top-selling drones have smart features which allow them to return safely to their home point when their battery is low, avoid obstacles on their way, fly around while keeping their camera focused on a selected subject, follow a pre-selected path and many more.
I’ll start the list from cheaper to more expensive drones with camera, meaning the further you read, the more feature-rich aircrafts you’ll see. Below each of the drone reviews there’s a button which will send you straight to Amazon, so you can purchase the drone from there (those are affiliate links, thank you in advance for using them!)
Anyway, here’s a list of the best camera drones:
The Phantom 3 Standard is one of those products which you just can’t ignore. I recently concluded this is the best entry-level drone around the $500 mark, which in my opinion can’t be beaten by any product in this range, as it provides an amazing all-in-one package. You get a 12MP camera which shoots video in 2.7K (2704×1520 @30fps), a 3-axis gimbal and shock absorbers for smooth video recording, flight distance up to 1000 meters and flight time around 23 minutes. That’s not all: You also get the infamous DJI Intelligent Flight Modes – Course Lock, Home Lock, Waypoints, Point of interest and Follow me. For more information about this drone you can check my in-depth review of the Phantom 3 Standard.
2. Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon
Yuneec is considered DJI’s biggest rival, and rightly so. The Chinese company is producing extremely high-quality drones and it’s known for its amazing customer service. The Q500+ Typhoon is a great choice for anyone who’s on the lookout for a semi-professional/consumer drone with camera. It has the “CGO2+” camera, which has a 16MP sensor and takes Full HD videos in 60fps. In addition, the drone comes with the ST-10+ Ground Station with a built-in 5.5″ Android touch screen. I know for a fact that many people prefer Yuneec’s way of constructing remote controllers, as they have the screen built inside the remote. For many that’s a great advantage, and you also don’t have to buy a separate tablet/phone when flying, which is great. The Q500’s flight time is around 25 minutes, and it even ships with 2 batteries so you get almost an hour flight time, which is insanely good!
3. 3dr Solo
The next product from this Drone Buying Guide is the 3dr Solo. It’s a great drone for people with zero flying experience, as it’s really easy to set-up and fly. It’s also all black, so it’s much easier to spot in the sky compared to the other popular all-white drones. This drone does not come with integrated camera, but it works with GoPro cameras, so if you already have one, you’re all good. If not, you can select a bundle with everything included so you’re completely ready to fly.
The remote controller of the 3dr Solo fits both smartphones and tablets, so no limitations there. You also get live view from the camera being streamed to your smart device with almost no lag. If you fly the drone far enough to lose the signal, the aircraft will return home automatically and land by itself. The maximum distance is roughly half a mile (~800 meters). The autonomous modes are also present in this drone. You can choose between Orbit mode, Selfie mode, Cable cam and Follow mode. The battery gives you enough power to last around 20 minutes in the air, which is close to the average flight time of the aerial photography/videography drones.
UPDATE: 3DR is no longer manufacturing drones (you can read more here). Because of this, the price of this quadcopter has literally “crashed” to about $380. I’d still recommend this drone, however be advised that you might have issues with customer service/warranty in the future.
4. Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
The US-based company has made a remarkable camera drone, capable of being a real competition to the DJI Phantom series and the Yuneec Typhoon Q500+. The X-Star Premium has got it all – 4K Ultra HD video camera for stunning shots from above, Live View up to 1.2 miles away (similar to Lightbridge) and autonomous flight modes via the Starlink app (which works both for iOS or Android). The positioning of the drone is taken care of by the Dual GPS/GLONASS outdoor navigation systems, and there’s also a SecureFly magnetic interference protection system, which is quite handy. What I particularly like about this quadcopter is that it comes with a number of bundled accessories: a Premium hard case (which is really rugged and makes you feel like James Bond while you carry your drone), a 64-GB MicroSD card, intelligent battery, 1-hour fast charger, spare propellers and small parts. Last, but definitely not least is the customer support – Autel is known to be one of the best out there when it comes to helping their customers in case of problems. The support team is U.S. based and works seven days a week, providing assistance for every issue you might have.
5. Phantom 3 Professional
To this day many people consider DJI’s Phantom 3 Professional the drone which provides the best “bang for buck”. With its lowered price (due to the release of the Phantom4 and Phantom 4 Pro), the P3P is an incredibly good deal. People are often arguing that this aircraft isn’t inferior in any way to the Phantom 4, as according to them the latter provides only insignificant little upgrades. While I don’t share this opinion completely, I can see why some people think that way – this product is packed with the features every drone enthusiast dreams to have – 4K 30fps camera (also capable of shooting 1080p in 60fps), Lightbridge connectivity which allows you to fly the drone up to 5000 meters away while still maintaining 720p live video streaming to your device, Vision Positioning System for low/indoors/No-GPS flying, Intelligent flight modes, auto takeoff and landing and more. The flight time of the aircraft is roughly 23 minutes, and it comes with an extra battery.
6. Phantom 4
One of the most popular drones in this list is the Phantom 4. Many people consider it the king of the “prosumer” (professional/consumer) drones with camera simply because it has the latest features you can get in a drone and it’s ridiculously easy to fly. The aircraft is completely RTF (Ready to Fly) and while it has every feature from the Phantom 3 Professional, it also adds some newer ones. For instance, it has larger battery which gives it a flight time of around 25-28 minutes (an improvement over the older models). Also, there are some newly-added modes such as Active Tracking and Tap to Fly – they will help you navigate the drone much easier than before, without even using the remote controller. In addition, Sports mode allows the Phantom 4 to tilt a full 45 degrees during flying and reach speeds up to 45 mph (roughly 20m/s). However, if you’re flying with the wind, you can reach even higher speeds – 50, even 60 mph. That’s not all: A front obstacle avoidance system is also present, so in case you are flying straight at a tree for an example, the drone will reposition itself (or stop) before hitting it. Here’s the obstacle avoidance system in action:
6.1 Phantom 4 Pro
The upgraded version of the almighty Phantom 4 has been released, and it’s awesome! This new quadcopter will certainly try to take the crown as the best camera drone in 2017 for consumers.
It’s called the Phantom 4 Pro, and it comes with a few really good improvements over its predecessor.
The new camera of the Phantom 4 Professional has a 20MP DNG Raw photo capabilities, F2.8 aperture, mechanical shutter which eliminates rolling shutter bending and large 1-inch sensor, which will lead to brighter and more detailed images than the ones from before. The video capabilities have also been improved, as the video bitrate is higher (100 Mbps), and the dynamic range is wider. Plus, you’ll be now capable to shoot 4K videos in 60fps, allowing for extra buttery slo-mo shots.
One of the most critical points of the Phantom 4 was that the obstacle avoidance sensors worked only when you fly upwards. It seems that DJI has listened to all the complaints, as there are now 2 more obstacle avoidance sensors on the back of the drone, combined with new infrared obstacle sensors on the sides of the aircraft, which means that the Phantom 4 Pro has 5 directions of sensors (front, back, both sides and bottom), which makes it virtually uncrashable (can’t wait to see more real-life tests on that).
There are 2 separate versions of the new Phantom 4 Professional. The first one comes with your regular Phantom 4 controller, so you can fit your phone/tablet.
Here’s where it gets interesting though: the second version has a 5.5 built-in display, which looks just as you’ve mounted your phone on the controller, but with an improved direct sunlight visibility. DJI promises the display is ultra bright and functions twice as good as most tablets on the market.
Of course, Lightbridge technology is also present, but this time the remote auto-detects signal interference and switches between 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz transmission.
The flight time has been increased to 30 minutes (depending on the flying conditions).
7. Yuneec Typhoon H
Next in the drones with camera category we have the Typhoon H from Yuneec. This hexacopter (meaning it has 6 rotors) has only been on the market for a month or two now, but it has already established itself as a solid DJI competitor. It’s often compared to the Phantom 4 and when it comes to picking one between the two, it’s an extremely hard task. I’ve often had the question “Which one should I buy?” and honestly, I can’t really give you a straight answer. Just like Android vs. Apple, Windows vs. Mac etc., it all comes down to personal preference, although the Typhoon H is slightly more directed towards more advanced flyers, whereas the Phantom 4 could be picked up and flown by anybody.
Back on topic, the Typhoon H offers smart flying modes, a sonar front obstacle avoidance system, retractable landing gear which allows for 360-degree filming from its 4K camera, “ST16” controller which has a built-in 7” touchscreen that displays live footage of your flight. What’s interesting about the controller is that it could be paired with a second controller, giving you the opportunity to use the one for flying the drone and the other one for controlling the camera. Definitely an advantage over the competition when it comes to taking more professional footage (i.e. for commercial use).
8. DJI Mavic Pro
The newest addition in the DJI family has only been recently released, but promises to deliver exceptional results. The biggest advantage of this drone is its super portability – the quadcopter literally fits into any backpack or bag, so you can carry it everywhere with you and not miss shots anymore (I’ve had hundreds of situations when I’d love to shoot something with my drone but I didn’t have it with me at the moment). In addition, this quadcopter is packed with almost everything you might want from similar-sized drone – 12MP camera, folding arms, long flight range (up to 4.3 miles – 7km), obstacle avoidance system with 4 vision sensors (below and in front), gesture control, sport mode, smart modes and much, much more. I personally take it as a minified version of the Phantom 4, which is also upgraded with a few new features, plus it’s extra portable. The Mavic Pro certainly is a true camera drone, since you can unfold it and shoot in a matter of seconds.
A racing drone is a small quadcopter drone that is purpose-built to compete in FPV (first person view) racing events. Racing drones are completely different animals compared to the aerial photography/videography drones or the beginner quadcopters. These drones typically trade off flight time and ease of use for speed and performance. They race with speeds up to 70-100mph, they are extremely maneuverable and they are insane to control.
It’s important to mention that these quads are NOT for beginners. If flown by a person without experience, they can lead to some significant damage to a person/property, due to their high speeds. I advise you to try one of those after you’ve mastered the basics of controlling a quadcopter.
However, if you have flying experience and you do want to jump into a new world of FPV racing drones – please proceed! 🙂
Many people argue that an FPV racing quadcopter is not bought, but it’s built instead. This is great if you are handy enough and you want to build something yourself. Many people say that building the quad is half of the fun. It’s helpful too, because if (or should I say when) something breaks, you’ll have the knowledge to change/repair it.
However, I also believe that not all people share the same interest for building their own drone. If you’re impatient to get your racing drone in the air, there are some good RTF FPV (Ready To Fly, First Person View) Racing drones worth checking out. Generally, they are just a bit more expensive than what you’d normally pay if you gather all the parts yourself, but at least you’ll know the drone is 100% capable of flying.
Let’s see what an FPV racing drone usually consists of:
We start off with the notorious TBS Vendetta – designed specifically for freestyle flying and FPV racing. This quadcopter is small (size 240), and its body frame is completely made of carbon fiber. This means that not only the Vendetta is very light (just over 400 grams without the battery and camera), but it’s also very strong and crash-resistant.
One of the best things about this race quad is that it doesn’t require a soldering iron when you need to replace components after a crash – thanks to its modular design it has a slideable electronic tray and hot-swappable arms and motors. This gives you a lot of room for upgrades (such as putting bigger motors, larger battery, another set of arms etc.) and also saves you repair time. This pocket rocket can reach a maximum altitude of 1300 meters, flies between 3 to 5 minutes with top speed of over 70mph when racing and can easily break the 100mph barrier when diving down from high above.
2. Eachine Racer 250
This next quad is one of the most popular FPV racers out there, mostly due to its relatively low price and large availability. The Eachine Racer 250 is RTF and comes with everything you need to get it moving in a matter of minutes. The quadcopter itself operates with a 1500mAh Lipo battery, giving you a flight time of 10-12 minutes. The remote controller has a built in 7 inch display for FPV flying. The display itself has a matte finish and is bright enough to work in sunlight without an additional sun-shade. Also, the image from the display is surprisingly crisp and sharp, which is great if you don’t want to throw-in another couple hundred dollars for FPV goggles. There’s an on-screen-display on the Eachine Racer 250, which is a very nice touch. It’s very simple, but also very useful – it’s showing the battery level, time in the air and transmitter channel. This aircraft also has LED lights on the front and the back, allowing you to change colors for the backlights – this works great especially if you’re in a race with multiple quads around you.
As far as flying the Racer 250 – It’s easy to fly right out of the box and you get used to the controls fairly quickly. The unit flies great, the video signal is strong and you can buy tons of replacement parts. The best part about this quadcopter is that everything you need is installed and setup,and it all works together very well.
3. ARRIS X-Speed 250B RTF
The Arris X-speed 250B RTF racing quadcopter offers the same functionality as the “big boys”, but it’s cheaper. However, it does not compromise on quality, and it’s carbon/glass fiber body shows just that. It comes with pretty much everything you need to get in the air, besides battery. Arris recommends using a Lipo 3S (1500-2200mAh) or 4S (1100-1500mAh) battery with this product.
For me, the most impressive part of this drone is the external design of the frame, and more specifically the FPV camera mount design. The camera is separated from the main frame by vibration dampening balls, while on the top plate you can find a slider for adjusting the FPV camera tilt angle by sliding it back.
Another really popular racing quad is the Vortex 250 Pro. Known for its toughness and maneuverability, this aircraft is considered one of the most premium products on the market when it comes to FPV Racing.
The drone comes in a nice foam package, precisely cut for this particular model. As the name suggests, the frame is 25 centimeters long, which is the standard race size.
The Vortex 250 Pro has been nicely upgraded in comparison with its older brother, the Vortex 285. Now, the newer model includes 4mm carbon fiber flat arms, and overall the frame is much stronger and crash-resistant. You can fit an external GoPro camera thanks to the built-in camera mount, and just like the Arris X-speed 250B, the flight camera is surrounded by vibration dampening balls. Of course, the angle of the camera can be adjusted, ensuring a great front view during high speed racing.
5. Lumenier QAV210-RTF Charpu Edition
The QAV210 is a larger version of the QAV180 – Lumenier’s smallest FPV quadcopter. The 210 in the name is for the 210mm size of the quadcopter, which again has a carbon fiber frame for extra durability. It comes completely set up, tested and ready to fly, the only remark being that you have to buy your own radio receiver. The quad is a go-to choice and named after Carlos Puertolas – Charpu, one of the most popular professional FPV racers at the moment, which speaks highly of the quality of the drone.
The Lumenier QAV210 also supports HD cameras such as the Mobius or GoPro in addition to its on-board 1080P HD camera.
See it in action and be amazed:
FPV Racing communities
I’ve met some really awesome people thanks to some of these online communities. It never ceases to amaze me me how many helpful and resourceful people are out there, ready to help.
Here are some of my favourite resources for finding new people to race with or simply to communicate with like-minded people who share the same interest:
And there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of suggestions and drone reviews for the best quadcopters you can buy in 2017.
Have I missed something ? Does your favorite drone fit in one of the three categories and it’s not present in the list? Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing back from you!
Also, I’ll be continuously updating this drone buying guide throughout the upcoming months, so make sure to bookmark this page and keep coming back for more fresh content in the very near future..!