Not ten years ago, consumer drones (meaning reasonably priced devices that anybody could afford) were the stuff of science fiction movies and zany YouTube videos. Nowadays, drones have risen above the niche status – you can’t throw a rock without hitting one. What used to be an expensive hobby for RC aficionados and videographers is now accessible to pretty much anybody who is willing to drop a few tens, even hundreds of dollars.
If you are reading this article, one can safely assume that you are an avid RC enthusiast and have a friend who wants, or is considering to, pick up this hobby as well. If that is the case, you are in luck, because we have gathered a small list of features that you should look for if you are planning to gift a drone. Whether your friend is a total drone rookie or has some flying experience, it does not matter, as this guide will apply to both cases. Here are a few things to look for when gifting a drone.
Types of Drones
The unexpected and meteoric growth of the drone market has, naturally, led to the release of a wider selection of drone categories with different features and functions. Nowadays, consumers want to do more with their drones than just flying them around – they want to shoot videos, take high-quality pictures, track their fitness progresss, and so on and so forth.
This mentality is quite understandable because once we get our hands on a cool gadget, we will always expect more from it. Make sure to check out Droneista if you want to be up to date on everything RC related. The website is dedicated to drone reviews and tutorials, so you’ll get an expert opinion and a thorough breakdown of a wide variety of models.
Generally speaking, there are four main categories of drones, each suited for different purposes:
- Beginner drones. Affordable devices with shorter ranges and limited flight times. These are suited to beginners for two important reasons. First, they are very easy to fly and can withstand the effects of minor crashes. Secondly, spare parts are widely available at low prices.
- Hobby drones. These are also affordable and durable, but they come with several advanced features (meaning that you should not buy one before gaining some experience with a beginner drone). Furthermore, hobby drones usually have longer ranges, better cameras and other features that make them ideal for casual flying.
- Professional These come with advanced features which, naturally, makes them more expensive than hobby and beginner drones. Apart from being equipped with high-quality cameras, they often use GPS tracking or have Wi-Fi connectivity.
- Racing drones. Designed from the ground up for speed and high maneuverability. Suited for competitive scenarios.
Assuming your friend is an RC beginner, you should pick a drone with features and functionalities that will encourage them to hone their flying skills until they will feel the need to transition to a more advanced device.
The first important feature to look for in a gift drone is the flight time. Ideally, you want to pick up a beginner drone that is capable of flying as long as possible, but without overpaying. In terms of flight time, it varies between 5 and 40 minutes, with rookie drones clocking around 10 minutes on average. It is worth mentioning that the flight time depends on the drone’s range and how much you can do with it once it reaches a certain distance.
The next thing to consider is the range. Beginner drones have ranges that vary between 50 and 100 meters, while most professional RC’s can reach up to 5 kilometers. Now, the ideal choice depends on your friend’s level of skill – if they have little to no experience with drones, buying a racing drone or a professional device is obviously not recommended. If they are sitting somewhere in the middle, a hobby drone with decent range is the ideal choice.
Another useful feature is the return home button. The name is quite suggestive – with the simple press of a button, the drone will return home. Advanced models have return home functions with obstacle avoidance.
Most drones have a feature called the ‘’headless mode’’. This function makes the drone easier to pilot, which is especially indicated to beginners who are not yet familiarized with the physical characteristics of the device. For example, let us assume you start flying your drone away from you, meaning the ‘’head’’ is facing in the opposite direction. If you order the drone to move to the left, it will move to the right. It works on a vertical axis logic – if you have ever played video games, you surely know what we are referring to.
Now, through the headless mode, regardless of where the head is pointing, the drone will move to the left if you press the left stick, and so on. If your friend is a beginner, make sure the drone has this feature.
As a side note, if your friend is an avid photographer, you should consider getting a drone with a gimbal. These are small contraptions that will keep the camera steady and prevent the footage from getting wobbly and shaky.
Droning is no longer the hobby reserved to the rich and professionals, rather a casual activity that almost anybody can afford. However, as accessible as it might be, some people might avoid droning due to the prospect of spending a lot of money on a device and crashing it on the first try. However, there are many cheap and high-quality drones on the market that are suited to a wide range of skill levels.