Drones You Can Actually Fly Right Now — Flight of the Rumblebees

Drones, despite the modern century tech that is integrated on them nowadays, is actually a very old concept, something that dates back as far as the First World War. Today, these remote-controlled mini-aircraft are almost everywhere, from hobby groups to filming studios, even finding large scale use in commercial applications such as delivery services.

For the general public, it can be quite tricky to know just how vastly different commercial drones can be. After all, base design-wise, each and every model looks practically alike. This article won’t teach the intricacies of drone ownership, but we’ve compiled a list of commercial drones that will help users identify its various applications, to get a squinted glimpse of just how unique each model is to one another.

Note: entries will not be comprehensive, but would provide a general classification that will build the definition for each of the three custom categories listed below. 

Difficulty Level: Trainee

These drones are not particularly designed for beginners. However, they are configured for easy use compared to other commercial drones, and as such could easily be introduced at such user level. Due to simpler builds, these drones are also typically cheaper, and would most likely the better economic choice.

AR Drone 2.0
Credit via Parrot

Who: Parrot
Where: ParrotAmazon
Designed For: Entertainment, Aerial Photography
Why Should I Buy This: The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 features simplified versions of all the options that are typically available for any kind of drone at a significantly less price. Great choice if you want to get the feel of the hobby itself. The one that you see here is the Power Edition.

F181
Credit via HolyStone

Who: HolyStone
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: … and the best gamer-intuitive experience award goes to… the HolyStone F181! How do we know? Why because of its totally rad radio controllers of course! That, and with its play durability that is inherent with most top quality nano-drones.

Ghostdrone 2.0
Credit via EHANG

Who: EHANG
Where: Amazon, BestBuy
Designed For: Aerial Photography, Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: A great entry-level drone, the EHANG Ghostdrone 2.0 performs well with all of its advertised features, even attached to a very affordable price tag. Smartphone gyroscope control is, of course, a very interesting feature. Best of all, it probably has the cheapest VR package for a drone ever.

H37 Elfie
Credit via JJRC

Who: JJRC
Where: AmazonGearBest
Designed For: Entertainment, Selfie Drone
Why Should I Buy This: A super entry-level drone with (somewhat) mid-tier performance? Yes, you better believe it. The JJRC H37 Elfie just has about everything you need that a drone would while still maintaining its ultra cheap price. As a simpler model, it does have a few very glaring issues (such as flight time), but that’s inherent in any drone of similar classification.

HS170 Predator Mini
Credit via HolyStone

Who: HolyStone
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: Every beginning starts with a step, and HolyStone HS170 Predator Mini might just be a good first step for users. It is essentially a toy, but is still a quad-rotor RC drone that can adequately teach the ropes.

Nano QX
Credit via Horizon Hobby

Who: Horizon Hobby, Blade
Where: Horizon HobbyAmazon
Designed For: Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: One of the tiny but appreciable perks of toy nano-drones is their usability indoors. The Blade Nano QX isn’t exactly the best, but its simple maneuverability features make it easier to just bump it around in a practice room… so long as you don’t crash it hard enough that is.

Racer 250
Credit via EACHINE

Who: EACHINE
Where: EACHINE, Amazon
Designed For: Hobby Building, FPV Racing
Why Should I Buy This: If you want an entry-level hobby grade drone kit for a very low price point, then the EACHINE Racer 250 is the perfect package. It may not be too high on the quality, but it not cheaply built either. It even has a slightly better DIY touch than most drones out there within the same price range.

U818A
Credit via UDI

Who: UDI
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Entertainment, (Entry) Aerial Photography
Why Should I Buy This: They say practice makes perfect. The UDI U818A may very well NOT be the optimized choice, but it is a very good one, if you are interested enough to try and fly. At the very least, its camera is something that would fare (somewhat) better against its competitors.

X4 (H107C)
Credit via Hubsan

Who: Hubsan
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Entertainment, FPV Racing(?)
Why Should I Buy This: Yup, that’s as low as it gets for a fully functional FPV drone. We would have actually recommended any nano-drone in the H107 lineup, but the H107C takes the cake with its built-in 2-megapixel camera. Hey, at least that’s something.

X5C
Credit via Syma

Who: Syma
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Entertainment, (Entry) Aerial Photography
Why Should I Buy This: The Syma X5C provides a middle gateway between an entertainment medium and a professional tool. It is in no way as sophisticated as a dedicated aerial photography drone, but at the very least, it could help you make the final decision on your first actual drone.

 

Difficulty Level: Pilot

This is the baseline standard for regular commercial drones. As such, you can find drones for almost all usage categories at this level. Just a word of advice though, there is a considerable, yet imperative need to invest a good sum in order to purchase these drones. Remember, these drones are not just toys.

Bebop 2 (Basic)
Credit via Parrot

Who: Parrot
Where: Parrot, Amazon
Designed For: Aerial Photography, Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: If you’re satisfied with the AR Drone 2.0, then you’d probably enjoy the significantly upgraded specs of the Parrot Bebop 2. It sports a sleek design that is easy to use indoors or outdoors, and can take the FPV experience higher with its very own VR kit.

Breeze 4K
Credit via Yuneec

Who: Yuneec
Where: Amazon, BestBuy
Designed For: Entertainment, Aerial Photography, Selfie Drone
Why Should I Buy This: Nice software/app integration, plus automated features that sync well with its stabilization systems. With a very friendly price point, the Yuneec Breeze 4K is also a steal for many beginners out there, those that want something a bit more professional for their starting drone.

Dobby
Credit via Zerotech

Who: Zerotech
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Entertainment, Selfie Drone
Why Should I Buy This: The Zerotech Dobby is perhaps the entry line for drones equipped with the standard array of sensors you’d typically see on higher-end products. This makes it very safe to use. In fact so safe, that you can catch it in midair; it will simply turn itself off automatically upon detecting your hand firmly on its grip.

Karma

 

Credit via GoPro

Who: GoPro
Where: GoPro, BestBuy
Designed For: Modular Recording, Aerial Photography, Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: Do you use GoPro cameras? Do you want to switch modes and toggle different recording perspectives on the fly? Then the GoPro Karma is definitely a steal. It can a tad bit bulkier than most drones (yes, even the Nvidia Shield-esque radio controller) within the same price range, however.

Mavic (Pro)
Credit via DJI

Who: DJI
Where: DJI, Amazon
Designed For: Aerial Photography, Entertainment, Selfie Drone
Why Should I Buy This: The DJI Mavic Pro is currently the most popular drone on the market today. It delivers near professional level usage in a nice package that doesn’t hinder performance. Portability is quite perhaps its most important feature, although physical stabilization also makes for a very attractive purchase factor.

Phantom 3 (Standard)
Credit via DJI

Who: DJI
Where: DJI, Amazon, BestBuy
Designed For: Aerial Photography, Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: A tiny bit less in terms of performance, but it is practically the best package for a consumer-friendly price point drone. Besides, if you want all those signal and range upgrades, you can simply opt to upgrade later.

Vortex 250 (Pro)
Credit via ImmersionRC

Who: ImmersionRC
Where: Amazon, HobbyKing
Designed For: Hobby Building, FPV Racing
Why Should I Buy This: Hobby racing/flight specialization drones are typically built with redundancy in mind. However the ImmersionRC Vortex 250 Pro takes the minimalist approach with a better combination of an upgraded flight controller, enhanced ESC, and a bulkier carbon fiber frame.

Vortex 285
Credit via ImmersionRC

Who: ImmersionRC
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Hobby Building, FPV Racing
Why Should I Buy This: As a previous version, the ImmersionRC Vortex 285 has slightly lower specs and a lighter frame compared to the Vortex 250. It is nonetheless still a solid choice, especially if you can get one at a discounted price.

 

Difficulty Level: Aviator

Professional level commercial drones improve further on specialization, optimizing whatever it is that each model is specifically designed for. This makes them much, much more expensive, although this also makes them far more usable at a higher performance quality, at least compared to their standard-issue counterparts. Service-related drones typically fall under this category.

184
Credit via Flickr by Ben Smith

Who: EHANG
Where: Not available yet
Designed For: Point-to-Point Transportation
Why Should I Buy This: The EHANG 184 is perhaps the most unique entry in this list that is officially classified as a drone. Technically, you’re actually not going to buy one, but would instead rent one, as it is designed as a unit public transport medium. Designed with an auto-navigation system and an all-electric motor, it will carry passengers to their destinations with one point of a finger.

Disco FPV
Credit via Parrot

Who: Parrot
Where: Parrot, Amazon
Designed For: Entertainment, Aerial Photography, FPV Racing(?)
Why Should I Buy This: Ever noticed the rather “unconventional” design? Do you have a peculiar taste for aircraft RCs? If yes, and you understand the risks of playing with fixed-wing UAVs, then the Parrot Disco FPV should be just perfect for you. Oh, but we don’t think you can officially use it for racing though, as awesome as it may seem to be.

Inspire 2
Credit via DJI

Who: DJI
Where: DJI, Amazon
Designed For: Professional Filming, Aerial Photography
Why Should I Buy This: The DJI Inspire 2 boasts one the best camera performance benchmarks of almost any drone today, configuration-wise, and hardware wise. The impressive 5.2K and Apple ProRes Codec goes a long way, but so does its motion capture stability, which, while not perfect, is still top-notch. Do be careful not to damage it in any way, however.

Phantom 4 (Pro)
Credit via DJI

Who: DJI
Where: DJI, Amazon
Designed For: Aerial Photography, Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: The more durable version of the Phantom 3 Pro, the Phantom 4 Pro boasts significant upgrades in its internal hardware. It starts with the bumped 120 fps (from 60 fps) frame rate of its camera, followed by other perks such as bigger ultrasonic sensors and double the number of optical sensors.

Typhoon H
Credit via Yuneec

Who: Yuneec
Where: Amazon, BestBuy
Designed For: Professional Filming, Aerial Photography, Entertainment
Why Should I Buy This: Redundancy… using six rotors. No, we’re serious. The Yuneec Typhoon H is designed to stay aloft even when one rotor fails, increasing its survivability. Spec-wise, it competes with other high-end drones, but is introduced at a slightly lesser price point. Also, alien design!

Typhoon Q500 4K
Credit via Yuneec

Who: Yuneec
Where: Amazon
Designed For: Aerial Photography, Professional Filming
Why Should I Buy This: Another drone that boasts 120 fps of recording frequency and great stabilization features for that professionally filmed aerial spectacles. Maintenance is a bit hard on the side though. Also, ousted by competitors before due to price point, though have since then gone cheaper.

One final note, if you are serious about getting into drones, it is imperative that you research stuff first about registration laws. Remember, these are technically aircraft, and they could technically trespass and violate aviation laws if you are not knowledgeable enough. For starters, the smaller, shorter range types usually don’t need registration, but the more professional and/or higher tier ones would most certainly will.

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