Thinking of taking up drone flying as a hobby but do not know where to start? Fear not. We here at DroneAddicts can help you pick out which drone is best for you. Be it for budgetary reasons, camera and recording quality, or simply its looks. We will review in this article the top 10 drones available in 2018 and discuss them one by one. You will be able to decide if each drone is in your price range, if it has what you need, and if it can accomplish what you are planning.
Here are the top drones as of 2018 priced just under $400.
DJI Spark Mini Drone
This drone’s strong points include its sharp HD camera and its lack of controller. The DJI Spark is capable of getting high resolution photographs. This is due to the 12 MegaPixel camera built into the drone. This will make sure you get the best snapshots from a bird’s eye view. The video recording capability is excellent as well, although you may be getting close to the roof of the $400 limit for this one. If budget is tight, you may want to steer clear of this drone for now.
For its controls, you have to use mobile apps for its navigation. With the DJI app downloaded on your phone, you can then gain access to the controls. For some it may look “newbie friendly” while to more experienced drone users, this may be a burden. A phone is obviously not as solid and accurate as a controller built for the drone. This may involve the drone’s control accuracy being less desirable than you may hope.
The drone comes in multiple colors if the white motif is not to your liking. It has fun and aptly named themes including Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red, and Sunrise Yellow. If you are expecting elaborate patterns of lava on your drone however, you might be disappointed. Although the names of the color themes look great, the paint job is just as said above. Sky blue is a plain blue paint job, Lava Red is just red overall on the main body of the drone, etc.
Its main body is about the length of an adult’s hand. This can mean a lot of things. One, fuel consumption, as well as flight time would not be as long. And the other, it means that you can fly it through smaller areas without it being a nuisance. It would also mean that its hover and flight make far less noise than its bigger counterparts. The good news though is that if you do choose this drone, know that you are purchasing from a known and reliable manufacturer. The price might be a bit high but their record of quality and service show that this drone will get your money’s worth.
The main issue is the controller, as it will set you back another $150. If you do not want to spend on the dedicated DJI controller, you will have to settle for an app on your mobile phone. This would definitely not be the optimum drone flying experience. However if you are trying to dip your feet into the world of drones, then the DJI Spark Mini Drone is an excellent drone to start this amazing hobby.
What can we say about this drone? For one, it looks very cool. It has the whole “flying insect” motif going on which is great. It has 4 arms for the propellers and 4 corresponding legs for its landing base. When the Traxxas Aton is in flight, it looks like a bug ready to explore. In the darkness, the Aton is capable of shedding light into its surroundings with its very own LED lights. The lights display in the “arm” segments of the drone. The LEDs also come in a variety of colors. Have no fear, you will never lose this UAV in the dark. The lights also have a function other than illumination – it shows its user where the front of the drone is. At the drone’s front guard are two big red LEDs. This can show the user the drone’s current position and direction easily. To the back are less bright lights, so as not to confuse.
A Closer Look:
For usage, the drone offers 18 minutes of flight time before running out of fuel. It matches in range with drones in its price category, but of course, any user would want longer time. Another negative is that this drone doesn’t have its own camera built in. You have to mount a separate and equally expensive camera if you want to capture shots with it. The drone, instead of a camera, has a mount for the camera. It isn’t much but it does give you flexibility on the camera’s end. A mount would mean you can replace the cameras at will, leaving you to choose which is best for each occasion.
The speed of the drone can be set in 3 levels. Film, Sport, and Expert mode. Contrary to what you are thinking, the fastest mode is actually the Sport version. It can reach speeds up to 50 MPH. “Sport mode” being you using it to record yourself on a bike trail and such. It is capable of matching a very fast speed and you can be sure it can keep up with your fast pace. Film mode is for photography and recording sessions. It offers smooth navigation and leaves little room for shaky recordings.
The controller is a thing of beauty as well. It consists of 2 joysticks like a controller, as well as a small screen. The layout of the controller is very clean and does not look intimidating to a new enthusiast.
Last but definitely not least of our top picks for affordable drones is the Hubsan H501S. This drone, I must say, looks the part. If you want to pick among the best drones in this price range, your eyes will dart almost immediately at this UAV. With its golden paint on its propellers and feet, along with an either black or white main body, this drone definitely looks professional. It has a sleek design along with a very well made minimalist structure. Compared to the other drones, this one easily stands out.
But hey, that’s enough about the looks. What is important is on the inside. The Hubsan H501S has a myriad of functions that can definitely make drone flying more enjoyable. For one, it has a Headless Mode option that makes navigation easier. You can also command the drone to hover around you, follow you around, and when you are done, you can simply send it back to its base. Simplicity itself. But wait – there’s more.
One of the two crowning jewels of this drone is its 1080p camera. A drone on its own can be a fun way to unwind after a long day. It can be a source of entertainment at the park to pass the time. A drone with a powerful camera is another thing altogether. It becomes a flying high definition camera. This means that you can easily take photos of the environment at a vantage point that you yourself can never get to on foot. This also means that both the photos and videos recorded would be at the highest possible quality. That means more zoom, more detail, and of course, better coverage all around.
The other crowning feature of this drone is its controller. It has a far superior screen size than drones in its price range. This means that you see more, and you can do more. Smaller screens can become a burden since you may enjoy the scene that much. Alas, we are used to having technology with newer phones being bigger than their predecessors. Our brains have associated “new technology” with a big screen. It does fit the bill though. Bigger screen means bigger images, which means a better perspective from the drone’s eyes.
The rest of the controller consists of analog sticks similar to that of video game controllers. It has a minimal setup just like the drone, and the buttons are also easy enough to identify. That would mean an easier transition for new drone users, while still keeping up with the standards held by old users.