Best value

Drones – what’s hot and attracting the most attention – our top 4 choices

When asked what we think is the best drone available on the market, that question begs more questions than answers when trying to make a comparison between the many, many different manufacturers and models available today. It’s all about the variables. What is the budget, what size do you want, how good a camera do you need with it, and what do you actually want to do with it? In simple terms, there is no definitive answer as to what ‘the best’ drone is, but we can point you in the direction of three drones which are proving to be really popular today:


  • Under $100 – Syma X5C Explorers with HD camera.

Syma X5C Explorers with HD camera
This is a brilliant ‘starter’ drone for those who have never flown one before. At around 30cm in diameter it is small enough not to do too much damage while you are learning, but it is plenty big enough to get a real feel for the joy of flying a drone. The camera is good but not brilliant, and with a light drone videos tend to be a bit bumpy to watch. A flight time of 10 minutes is good and the recommendation with an hour’s charge time is to buy extra batteries and a charger to avoid frustrating down time – at around $50.00 for the drone you have enough change for these.

  • Under $250 – UDI 818A HD+ RC Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera.UDI 818A HD+ RC Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera.

This is a step up from the Syma, especially where quality of the camera is concerned. At 34cm in diameter it is a good size with a flying time of around 9 minutes. What we like about this drone is the one key ‘return home’ function, the additional battery pack and charger, 6-axis gyro stability and the integrated highly elastic plastic protective frame that protects the propellers in flight and which acts as an anti-collision safety mechanism. In addition, there is plenty of video storage on the 4GB removable micro SD card. Retails at around $225 but has been seen available for around $150.

  • Under $1,000 – XIRO Xplorer V with HD camera and direct streaming.XIRO Xplorer V with HD camera and direct streaming

Wow! This drone takes you into a whole different world of fun, skill and excitement. Pair your smartphone for a live Wi-Fi feed from the high-grade 1080p/30fps and 720p/60fps camera which also has the option for slow motion recordings, or 14-megapixel resolution still images, all benefitting from the 3-axis camera stabilizer.  Once you get into this price bracket you get nearly half an hour’s flying time, and this package comes with a powerpack and second battery, which impresses us. For great ‘selfies’ use the ‘follow me’ or circle me’ control functions, ‘return home’ is self-explanatory, and for those who are worried about your drone flying off into the distance, never to be seen again, it has an automatic ‘return to me’ function which is triggered the moment radio-control reception is lost – at about an amazing 500m distance!

  • Under $5,000 – DJI Inspire 1 Pro.

DJI Inspire 1 Pro

It wouldn’t be right not to include one DJI drone in our selection and, to be honest, they could have filled a slot in all four sections. However, we decided to keep the best until last. Imagine flying a drone at 60mph, with total control either from a dedicated controller, or an app on your smartphone. Live stream content to a tablet via the superb Zenmuse 4k camera (the best DJI have produced to date) with 3-axis stabilization gimbal and you begin to get the picture, literally and metaphorically speaking! This drone takes you into the range of ‘professional use’ with remote camera controls, accurate flight controls, a cool vision positioning system for GPS-free or indoor flight, and ‘return to home’ function for signal loss. The 56cm diameter ‘beast’ will fly for around 15 minutes and at a maximum speed of 4m/s, so it definitely is no slouch! Welcome to the professional world of aerial photography with the DJI Inspire 1 pro, though it will set you back $4,455.


We know many of you reading this will be screaming at us that we didn’t mention your drone. Well don’t worry – if you get fun and enjoyment from your drone, then you have the right one for you, and that is all that matters.


Best value

  1. Reply Avatar for quadcopters Joy S. May 20, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Do you feel that the Syma X5C is a good drone to get a 9 year old boy? He has been wanting one and his birthday is coming up. I told my husband I would find more information on them. I am honestly not sure what makes some easier from others. Any help you can give me on my question would be appreciated!

  2. Reply Avatar for quadcopters Paul Gray May 21, 2016 at 12:20 am

    $250 to $1000 is quite a large leap! Most people who want to get in to drones typically only spend around $500 for one. I really enjoyed this post none the less. It gave me an idea of my options and what is out there. Not really fitting for my price range but I loved seeing the differences. Thanks!

  3. Reply Avatar for quadcopters Mike May 21, 2016 at 12:49 am

    The XIRO Xplorer V only sets itself apart with that return feature. So many other drones with similar specs out there for less. I get why someone would want that feature but I feel that you are better off paying a bit more and getting that feature and then some in a higher level model drone.

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