Electronic gadgets has always been popular gifts during festival season, especially Christmas; more so in this electronic age of star wars. Smartphones and Tablets made the news for few years. But now, one gadget that has been making a lot of news ( well, a sort of both good and bad! ) in recent times is a Drone or UAV ( Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ).
The drone, which was once considered to be used only within the realm of military warfare, is now finding its way into many households and is taking on different roles as delivery person, photographer, videographer, cartographer, etc. It is penetrating so much into the domestic market such that it is estimated that around a million drones might be sold this year, a major chunk of it during the Christmas holiday season itself; this estimate somewhat appears realistic since the number of drones sold in 2014 itself was estimated to be more than 500000, that’s too in US alone.
The growth of drones usage is on an exponential trajectory. Hence, the sale is expected to be at its peak during this upcoming holiday.
As a matter of fact, drones appear to be the most natural extension of smart-phone technology; they have CPU, GPU, sensors, gyroscope etc, that are also found on the smart phones. And somebody had rightly said that they are nothing but ‘flying’ smart-phones, and truly they are. Drones are disrupting the market the way smartphones did few years ago.
OK, now that you have decided that drone is going to be your favourite gift that you want to give it your loved ones, how will you choose which one is the best drone that suits well or which type of drone is likely to be the best gift?
Just like those things that come in different shapes and sizes, drones too comes with various sizes, features and varieties, those with camera being one of them and most sought after. There are variants that are also programmable and these are a kind of high end products that only serious hobbyists should go for.
And then there are drones that are RTF ( Ready To Fly ) or almost RTF; just take them out of the box and with few assemblies, it is ready to be flown. And there are few drones that can be controlled with the smart-phone or tablet itself and they do not even need separate remote control! But the number of features on the drone usually depends on the cost of the drone, and the most basic ones may not have camera or programmable capability, but will be good enough for amateurs to learn and experience of art of flying.
If one already has some knowledge on drones and are looking to upgrade to the next level, then please head over to this article on drones with cameras !
If the recipient of the gift happen to be first timer on drones, then it is best to go for those that are available under $50. There are a lot good drones that are available in this category and the following table gives the basic comparison, based on the popularity ( rating and number of reviews ). The table only lists those whose average review rating is more than 3.90 ( out of 5.00 ) and the number of reviews is mostly in 100s ( since less number of reviews tend to be a bit biased ), but for one..
Drones under $50 ( Below prices are at the time of writing this article, early December 2015 )
|DRONE BRAND||AVERAGE PRICE||AVERAGE RATING ( out of 5.00 )||NUMBER OF REVIEWS|
|Syma X5C Explorers 2.4G 4CH 6-Axis Gyro||$45||4.1||2680|
|UDI U818A 2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Gyro RC||$50||3.9||2690|
|Hubsan X4 (H107L) 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Quadcopter||$29||4.0||790|
|Estes 4606 Proto X Nano R/C Quadcopter||$30||3.9||1230|
|Syma S107G 3.5 Channel RC Helicopter with Gyro, Blue||$16||4.2||3951|
|Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter with Gyro- Red||$16||4.2||3200|
|Holy Stone® Predator Mini RC Quadcopter Drone 2.4Ghz 6 Axis Gyro||$36||4.6||30|
[ The above are the prices at the time of writing this article ( early December 2015), but may change over a period of time ]
A more detailed review and few others not listed above, is given in this post.
So, go ahead and get the one that fits your wallet. And make your loved ones enjoy this Christmas more than ever and the days to follow will be more merrier!
A word of caution: Even though flying a drone is an exhilarating experience, it can often get you into trouble if you are not careful enough in handling it. There has been a lot of reports of drones getting too close to air-crafts near airports, some one snooping on their neighbours, etc. Please make sure that you follow the FAA guidelines on flying a drone, some of which are listed below, for your immediate reference.
1. Fly below 400 Ft and there shouldn’t be any obstacles in the vicinity.
2. The drone should be within your line of sight all the time.
3. There should not be a crowd in a place where you fly your drone.
4. They should not be flown within 5 miles of an airport.