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Top 10 Holiday Drone Deals For Christmas 2016

top-10

 

Holidays are quickly approaching and more and more people are looking for good holiday drone deals to surprise their kids, loved ones or even their parents with their first ever quadcopter. In my Drone Buying Guide I’ve listed all the useful information you might need before buying a drone, but assuming you’ve already set this in stone, let’s jump straight into my top 10 holiday deals. You can pick a category and you’ll be taken straight to that part of this mini-guide:

Under $100

Unsurprisingly, this is the most popular category when it comes to picking a new drone. And it should be. People often jump straight onto the biggest and best drones out there, before even having a clue how to operate them. Granted, the Phantom 4 basically flies itself and you don’t need any special skills, but I’d always recommend to pick something under $100 USD and try it out first, see if you are good with the controls and the movement, and then go for the big dogs. That way, even if you crash it (which you will, sooner or later), you won’t feel as bad and you wouldn’t have ruined a $1000 machine 🙂

Qcopter QC1

Qcopter QC1

So my first suggestion is this tiny green mosquito-like quadcopter – the Qcopter QC1. It’s a great choice because it comes with 2 batteries, meaning you’ll have double the flying time of what you normally get, which is still quite a lot for a quadcopter of this range – 15 minutes. So basically straight off the bat you have 30 minutes of flying time to learn new tricks or just have some fun with this little guy.

When it comes to flying, the QC1 is nice and stable, which makes it very easy for the beginners out there and gives you a better control over your drone. During the night, the quadcopter is extremely visible because of its bright LED lights, so you’ll be able to notice it from far away with no problems whatsoever.

Plus, it even has an HD camera (although you shouldn’t expect great things from it). However, the camera quality is just enough to give you a bird’s eye perspective of your location, which is what most people want from their cheap drone.

 Holy Stone U818A HD Plus

Holy Stone U818A HD PlusWithout a doubt this quadcopter drone is a good value for its price. It gives you plenty of features, it flies well and it’s a lot of fun to play with.

This drone is an improved version of its younger brother – the UDI U818A HD. The price difference between the older and newer model is worth mentioning, but in my opinion is definitely justified. First off, it flies a lot smoother than the 818A HD. The controls are very accurate and overall the drone is a lot more responsive to your input. The camera in this unit is a lot more clear and sharp, which is a great deal for some potential customers. Another improvement is the addition of headless mode, which allows beginners to fly and learn the quadcopter a little bit easier. The drone also supports one key return home, so if you’re out and about and you lose sight of the drone or you lose control you can press that button and it will fly right back to you.

The UDI U818A HD+ has 2 different speed modes: Mode1 is a bit more scaled-down and Mode2 is more aggresive – choose the appropriate one depending on your skills.

The best reason why this drone is such a good deal is simply because you get so much stuff coming with it in the package. Here’s everything that you get in the package:

1 x 2.4G Transmitter with LCD Display (4xAA batteries NOT INCLUDED)
2 x 500mAh Li-Po Batteries (1 bonus battery included)
1 x Goggles
1 x 4GB Micro SD Card
1 x USB Card Reader
1 x 2-Ch Battery Charger
4 x Extra Blades

For that price tag, that’s impressive.

$100 – $200

U45 Blue Jay
U45 Blue Jay

The U45 Blue Jay is a lightweight, ready to fly quadcopter, with a cool design that makes it a perfect choice for novice pilots and more experienced flyers. You can take off and land with the push of a button, so you’ll get it in the air in absolutely no time. You can also make use of the extra battery you get in the package to double your flight time.

The drone itself has an HD camera, which captures photos in 2MP resolution and videos in 720p (1280×720 at 30 FPS).

On top of that, “Headless mode” is also present, as well as Altitude Hold, which are both extremely good features to have if this is one of your first quadcopters you’ve ever owned.

  • Headless Mode – You can fly the drone to any location without the need to worry about which direction the drone is facing. 
  • Altitude Hold – You can set your drone to hover at your preferred altitude. This makes controlling the drone much easier and stabilizes the camera for aerial photography and videography.

What’s particularly interesting about this quad is that it’s FPV-ready – you can follow what the camera of the drone captures in real time via the built-in WiFi module, which connects to your smartphone. If you want to spice it up even more, you can use the other interesting feature of the U45 Blue Jay – the VR Headset compatibility. This feature allows you to sync a compatible virtual reality headset directly with the controller to bring some extra awesomeness to your flights.

With the U45 Blue Jay, you will get:

  • U45W Drone
  • 2.4Ghz Controller
  • 2 500mAh Batteries
  • 4GB SanDisk Micro SD Card
  • SD Card Reader
  • USB Battery Charger
  • Power Bank
  • Spare Propellers x 4
  • Screwdriver
  • User Manual

UDIRC U28W 

UDIRC U28W

Another awesome pick for this price category is the UDIRC U28W. Just like the U45 Blue Jay, this quadcopter is capable of FPV (First-Person-View) flying and it’s Virtual-Reality Headset ready. Thanks to the Wi-Fi FPV technology, you can watch live video feed of your flight from your smartphone.

What sets apart this particular aircraft is the “Custom route” mode, which can be found mostly in the high-end quadcopters out there (also known as “Waypoints”). In this mode, you can trace the desired path you want your drone to fly along (via the mobile app), and the U28W will follow the path unassisted. Definitely a great feature to have if you want to shoot a location and plan the quadcopter’s movement beforehand (for extra cinematic look).

Other than that, the technology which you find in most of the other similar-priced quadcopters is of course present here, as well. The “Altitude Hold” keeps the drone leveled even after you let go of the sticks and makes controlling the drone easy even for children, so keep that in mind if you want to give this to your kid 🙂 When you decide to take off or land, you can push a button and the quadcopter will do it for you, so that eliminates the risk of crashing right off the bat. You can also choose between High/Low Speed mode, depending on your skills, so you won’t be quickly bored after you get used to the controls. The 360 degree flips are also a very easy task for the U28W – you can do them with a push of a button, just make sure you’ve reached enough altitude if you want to avoid crashing.

The 2MP camera of the U28W shoots in 720P and has a 120 degree wide angle format, so you basically have a larger field of view for your shots. In addition, you get an additional battery so you can double your flight time (you get 6-7 minutes of flight time with each battery).

Box Contents:

  • U28W Drone
  • 2.4 Ghz Controller
  • 3.7 500mAh LiPo Battery
  • 2x USB battery charger
  • 4x Spare Propellers
  • SanDisk Micro SD Card
  • Micro SD Card Reader
  • 1x Mini Screwdriver & 6x Spare Screws
  • Instructional Manual

Syma X8HG

Syma X8HG

This beautiful red Syma quadcopter is surely right on track with the Christmas holiday theme 🙂 However, the candy red paint is not the only thing worth mentioning about this aircraft – there’s plenty more, because for the price tag of around $150, this quadcopter gives you plenty of features.

One of the best things about this drone is that it comes with its own 8 MP Syma HD Camera, capable of shooting in 1080p (or 720p, if you want to), and which gives you a significantly better image over the competition, priced similarly.

As a matter of fact, the Syma X8HG also supports what most of its competitors have, as well – Headless mode, Altitude Hold and 360 degree flips are also present here.

You can fly the quad till around 100m of distance, for a total flight time of about 6-8 minutes. Not ideal, but still very close to what’s the average for this price.

What I like about this particular Syma drone is that it flies extremely well, even in stronger winds – it keeps the image stable, and the hover functionality is great to have. Definitely a must-buy product!

Focus FPV Drone

Focus FPV Drone

The Focus FPV Drone is one of those products which you can’t forget. The weird shape of the body of this quadcopter, as well as the shape of the remote controller (with a built-in LCD display with adjustable brightness) is certainly going to make you remember this little guy.

Not only that, you also get an 720p HD camera with a fisheye lens for wide-angle capabilities, so you can capture more with your camera.  Headless mode, FPV, One Key Return Home and 360 degree flips (which are quite the norm already) are also present in this drone.

The propellers are protected by pre-installed prop-guards, and there are also 4 soft landing pods under the aircraft, increasing the softness when landing and protecting the body of the drone.

For this one, you get not only 2 batteries for your quadcopter, but also 2 batteries for the remote controller, which is great. Here’s what else you get in the package:

  • FOCUS FPV Drone
  • 2.4Ghz Controller w/Display
  • 2 x 3.7V 500mAh LiPo Drone Battery
  • 2 x 3.7V 450mAh LiPo Controller Battery
  • 4GB Micro SD Card
  • Card Reader
  • USB Battery Charger
  • 4 x Spare Propellers
  • Mini Screwdriver
  • Instruction Manual

Under $500

Holy Stone X400C

Holy Stone X400C

The Holy Stone X400C is another great purchase option from Holy Stone. It’s one of the few good options for FPV quadcopters under hundred bucks. It supports real-time image transmission, and you can use just about any smartphone running iOS or Android to mount on the remote control while you fly. What I like about this quadcopter is that it flies well, it is stable in light to moderate winds (you cannot expect it to fly super smoothly at strong winds) and it comes with propeller guards, so it can definitely take a beating.

Besides that, this drone also has Headless mode and One-key return – both functions are must-have for beginner flyers. Now, for the more intermediate or advanced flyers out there, there are also some cool features to enjoy while flying with the X400C –  3D Roll, One-Key Roll and Throttle Limit. You can experiment with those once you get comfortable flying.

The flight time is average – the battery will last you around 8-10 minutes in the air, then you’ll need to swap batteries (you don’t get any extra batteries in the package).

Overall, this is a solid choice for anyone who’s looking to spend a few good hours with this flying toy!

Traxxas Aton Plus

Traxxas Aton Plus

The Aton Plus by Traxxas combines the speed of a racing quadcopter and the functionality of a camera drone. It comes in a bright red color, so it’s easy to be seen from a distance while flying, but it’s also distinguishable from the other so popular black or white aircrafts out there.

This speedy quad is able to reach 50+ mph speed in sport mode, but also keeps its camera platform extremely stable while in film mode, thanks to its gimbal. There’s a GoPro mount included in the package so if you already own a GoPro camera you’re good to go. Unfortunately the Aton does not ship with an integrated camera.

However, if you do mount your GoPro to this drone, you can expect buttery-smooth videos, but also mind blowing speed. I’ve tested this little red beast myself and I was surprised how agile and quick it was. You can clearly tell this drone is a well-built machine, with a lot of features to entertain you: the Dual-mode GPS, Air Brakes and Return to Home to name a few. It has different modes, depending on what you want to use it for – Sport, Expert or Film.

Another very cool inclusion is the LED status bar, which gives you an indication if all systems are ready for take off and the LED lighting on the bottom of the quad for night visibility.

Last, but definitely not least is the Traxxas Flight Link app, which allows you to use your smartphone to customize the drone’s flight settings such as flight ceiling, geofence radius, control rates and much more. Future upgrades include FPV and 3-axis gimbal control.

Over $500

DJI Phantom 3 Standard (“Everything you need” Bundle)

DJI Standard Everything You need Bundle

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.

In this bundle, you also get an extra battery, a SanDisk 64GB Micro SD card, SD Card reader, Snap-on propeller guards, camera lens cover cap, sun hood, gimbal guard, cleaning cloth and a carry system with harness – basically all you need now is to charge your batteries and go fly!

For more information about this drone you can check my in-depth review of the Phantom 3 Standard.

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium

Autel X-star PremiumThe US-based company has made a remarkable aircraft, 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 the Lightbridge technology from DJI) 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.

 

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