Drones are certainly going to be one of the most popular purchases this Christmas and not just for tech freaks, but basically anyone who thinks gadgets are cool. So if you have somebody in mind that you're looking to get one for, it pays to know where you can save money on these.
The cost of drones can vary greatly, thus doing your homework before buying one is a must. With this article though I'll show you how to pick the right model for the intended recipient by only focusing on those with the highest ratings, looking at which are most suitable for different ages as well as covering the basic specifications to help guide your decision. Another very important consideration is whether the drone you're after is going to be used on land or air. Thus, I've also covered suggestions on this topic as well.
Drones that focus only on flight are certainly the most popular form, but with so much choice it really depends on whom you are buying one for when it comes to saving money.
Air Hogs RC Helix X4
First is our Air Hog edition of the drone family. This brand has been around for years producing kid-friendly, cost effective RC helicopters. Your kids might be aware of its predecessor, the ‘quadcopter’ that is still a top seller today. It’s an ideal toy because this lightweight, barebones drone has four protected propellers for safety, gyro-stabilisation and a very lightweight crash resistant foam body.
The RC Helix X4 is ideal for newcomers and is safe for children. The remote control even has a stunt button, which makes the drone perform 180-degree flips and barrel rolls.
Charging Time: 20-40 minutes
Flying Time: 5-10 minutes
Price: $60 - $80
The Helix X4 is ideal for clumsy kids or adults looking for a cheap drone to have some fun with this Christmas. It also includes a remote control, so no smartphone is required to fly it. In terms of its price point, you're looking at the cheapest of the lot in this article.
Small and light enough to be flown in the living room the Bebop is what made Parrot a popular product in the low-end drone market. This little action packed model comes with an in-built 12MP camera which can take stills as well as record 1080p full-HD video. It’s easy and lightweight to fly, encased within a foam body and its failsafe features mean that when the battery gets low, it will fly itself back to the owner.
Charging Time: 40-60 minutes
Flying Time: 20-25 minutes
Price: $700 - $900
This drone is the ideal present for newcomers who want more than simply flight from their drone, as its camera’s quality makes it an excellent entry-level aerial filming device too. Although, you'll need a very generous budget and probably shouldn't buy it for somebody unless you're convinced that they'll get plenty of use out of it.
DJI Phantom 3 Standard
Certainly a middle to top range drone, it's been designed to capture beautiful images and video. This model is intended more towards experienced done enthusiasts and would fall into the "cost effective" category in terms of its features and build quality. Expect all the premium features such as 12MP photos, 2K HD video and a 3-axis gimbal so your footage is always stable. The remote control allows the user to command the camera to switch to different angles, allowing for the most dramatic of HD shots to be taken.
The Phantom 3 drone packs more grunt than the two options above including additional features such as landing sensors, tutorial applications to teach new flyers, a soon-to-be-launched ‘follow me’ setting as well as a point of interest setting where the drone will circle a single focus point.
Charging Time: 40-60 minutes
Flying Time: 20-25 minutes
Price: $900 - $1,000
This is the most expensive option listed and is suitable for experienced drone flyers that are looking to upgrade to a mid-to-top level drone. It comes with plenty of tech to challenge even the professional models.
This little drone made its first appearance in the Star Wars VII trailer after Lucas Films announced that the scene was filmed rather than using CGI. Since then the BB-8 (rolling drone line) has become increasingly popular with Star Wars fans.
The drone is controlled through a mobile app both on Android and iOS and it doesn’t just roll around. The developers have made this droid fun with certain commands that animate the droid. For example, when shouting “it’s a trap” the droid will react in panic and runaway in one direction. Alternatively, you can set it on autopilot and watch the droid explore the expanse of your living room.
Charging Time: 3 hours
Play Time: 1 hour
Price: $220 - $250
BB-8 is suitable for kids or any hardcore Star Wars fans, whilst the in-app augmented reality function adds a certain wow factor making it fun for users to send messages to each other.
Parrot Diesel Jumping Night Drone
A second addition to the Parrot mini-drone collection, the Diesel is specifically land orientated and suitable for all ages. Features of the Diesel make it better value for money compared to the BB-8, such as live-feed video recording, voice communication and spinning and jumping tricks.
Controlled with a smartphone app, the drone can stream live camera footage back to your handset meaning the Diesel can be used to explore without you being present, along with also being able to communicate with your voice through the drone itself.
Charging Time: 30 minutes
Play Time: 20 minutes
Price: $180 - $200
The Parrot Diesel is a great Christmas present for all who love RC controlled gadgets. Live camera streaming and voice projecting make this drone a great around-the-house gadget.