Posted on December 4, 2015 by Ryan Fagenson
Drones, defined as unmanned aircrafts controlled by remote control or onboard computers, are an emerging consumer tech industry segment. As such, many of these cool, flying gadgets will be purchased this holiday season for a variety of uses.
You may have heard about them and thought they’d make a great gift for the tech-enthusiast in your life. If someone on your list this holiday season is enamored with the idea of owning the latest and greatest tech, or is intrigued by aerial film and photography, a drone fits the bill as a fancy gift idea.
To meet the desires of tech enthusiasts and aerial photographers, the team at SpecOut put together a list of the top 10 consumer drones on the market this holiday season. Some of the options on this list are not cheap, costing close to $3,000; however, they are high-quality pieces of cutting edge technology that are probably the only item some people will want as a gift this year. We believe these are well worth the holiday surprise, so long as you have the budget for them.
#10. Parrot AR Drone 2.0
The cheapest drone on this list, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is Parrot’s model that bridges the gap between a toy drone and a high-end film and photography drone. At $300, you still get good quality for a well-built Parrot device with built-in 720p video recording. Parrot’s smartphone app for controlling the drone is also fun and easy-to-use.
#9. Storm Racing Drone (RTF / Type-A v2)
Built for drone racing (which is increasing steadily in popularity), the Storm Racing Drone (RTF / Type-A v2) is perfect for the tech nerd on your list. Its operating range is an impressive 1,500 meters, it has brushless motors, and a durable carbon fiber body. It’s also compatible with “live view,” which means you can put on a video headset and look directly at what the drone’s attached camera is seeing from the air.
#8. Parrot Bebop 2
The Bebop 2 is Parrot’s new version of its mid-level drone, a great value buy at $550. Compared to the $300 AR Drone 2.0, the Bebop 2 sports a much better built-in camera that can record 1080p Full HD video, while also being able to take 14 megapixel stills. For a drone with that kind of camera quality, the $550 Parrot Bebop 2 is a fantastic gift at a modest price.
#7. 3D Robotics IRIS+
This drone is perfect for the person on your list that already owns a GoPro action camera for filming activities. The 3D Robotics IRIS+ does not come with a built-in camera, but its 2-axis gimbal supports GoPro cameras perfectly, helping to keep the camera stable while recording your best tricks from above. It’s also equipped with carbon fiber rotors that will stop immediately upon contacting any surfaces, protecting the drone from damage.
#6. EHANG Ghost Basic
With a fully carbon fiber body, carbon fiber rotors, and an extremely wide operating temperature range, the EHANG Ghost Basic is able to fly pretty much anywhere you could possibly want. It’s another drone that works perfectly for an existing GoPro user, and has plenty of advanced flying features that you could spend hours playing around with.
#5. DJI Phantom 3 Standard
The Phantom 3 Standard is the entry-level version of DJI’s signature line of consumer drones for film and photography. It’s got a great built-in camera, capable of shooting 2.7K video (a step up from 1080p Full HD). Like the EHANG Ghost Basic, it also has a full carbon fiber body and rotors, making it as durable as they come. DJI is the most famous name in the consumer drone industry, and the company definitely shows why with this high-quality piece of technology.
#4. 3D Robotics Solo
The signature drone of 3D Robotics, the Solo sports amazing build quality and features. It’s capable of autonomous flight, automatic landing, pre-flight planning, and many other advanced flight features. While it doesn’t come with a built-in camera, it does have a three-axis stabilization gimbal that will help your attached GoPro avoid shaky video.
#3. DJI Phantom 3 Professional
The most advanced DJI drone in the Phantom line to date, the Phantom 3 Professional is an incredible machine for aerial photography and videography. Like the 3D Robotics Solo, it has a three-axis stabilization gimbal for steady video, but it also includes a built-in, 4K camera. What more do you need for awesome aerial video?
#2. Yuneec Q500 Typhoon 4K
It may take a bit of time to learn all of the ins and outs of the Yuneec Q500 Typhoon 4K’s features and controls, but it’s well worth it if you have the patience. It has a 4K camera built-in, full carbon fiber body and rotors, and can carry about a pound and a half of added weight. It’s also capable of flying in temperatures up to 175 °F, and has a very large variety of recording modes to meet your needs.
#1. DJI Inspire 1
Sure, it’s a big step up from the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, but the Inspire 1 is targeted more towards the professional-level photographer or videographer. It does have the same camera quality as the Phantom 3 Professional, but one large difference is the ability to fly twice as far away from the controller, up to 2,000 meters. This provides much more flexibility in the shots the drone can capture, which translates into a much higher price tag.