Flying was a prohibitively expensive experience until very recently. Over time, commercial flights have become more affordable, making it possible for people of all economic backgrounds to get on an airplane. Most recently, flying a plane – be it a small one – is even accessible to almost anyone.

Nowadays, all you need to do to become a pilot is buy a drone and go fly it – even if you can’t actually be inside. In this article, we’ll discuss about the different types of drones available on the U.S. market. If you don’t have the possibility to get your hands on a full-size airplane, these devices will allow you to fulfill your dream of flying.

Key Facts

  • Most people need a camera on their drone, which is why its quality is extremely important. Nowadays, the most advanced models can offer up video image quality up to 4K and very high photo resolution.
  • The autonomy – or flight time – is naturally another key aspect. When we’re talking about drones that are friendly to most budgets, as we will discuss next, this range falls between 5 and 30 minutes.
  • The flying distance goes hand in hand with the autonomy. The most basic models cannot fly more than 164 feet from the control point.

Ranking: The best drones on the U.S. market

We’ve researched and analysed the drone market, and have come up with a selection of the very best models available out there right now. We have tried to include products for all budgets, while taking into account the value for money of each.

No. 1: Holy Stone – HS170 Predator

The HS170 Predator from Holy Stone features a great headless security system that allows users with any level of experience to control this drone with ease. The 2.4GHz frequency is designed to ensure that surrounding devices don’t interfere with communication and flying. It features a control range of around 98 to 164 feet. With a charge of 30-50 minutes you get a flight time of between 6 to 8 minutes.

The Predator also has a six-axis stabilization mechanism, making it easy to recover after performing any tricks or rapid movements. This product is appropriate for pilots 14 years-old and up. With incredibly responsive motors, you should make sure to adjust the throttle with care to always be in total control. Charges using USB, so you can charge it anywhere, any time.

No. 2: Potensic – T25 GPS Drone

Potensic’s T25 GPS Drone features a fantastic 1080P camera with 120 degree field of view and a 75 degree adjustable wide angle lens. With its one key takeoff and landing, this is the perfect entry drone for those just getting into flying. The T25 has an amazing control range – up to 984 feet – so you can explore far and wide. The drone’s WiFi capabilities also let you livestream your flights to friends and family.

You can also map out your flight paths beforehand, giving you complete control over where and how your drone flies. The 9-axis gyrospace mechanism means the T25 is capable of standing still, even in moderate winds. The drone also activates a “return home” function when running low on batteries, so you don’t have to worry about the T25 suddenly crashing to the ground.

No. 3: DJI  – Mavic 2 Pro

DJI is one of the most respected name in the drone industry, and the Mavic 2 Pro is a great upmarket drone for those looking for unparalleled quality. The Hasselbald L1D-20c camera has a 20 megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor, giving you professional quality aerial shots that are hard to beat. Film brilliant 4K video sequeneces with the Mavic 2 Pro that will make it feel as though you are in the air flying with the drone.

The functionality on this drone is truly incredible. ActiveTrack 2.0 technology, 360 degree obstacle sensing, low noise engineering, adjustable camera aperture, and HDR photos make this one of the standout products on the market. Everything you need to operate and charge the Mavic 2 Pro comes included. Truly one of the most epic drones out there.

No. 4: DJI – Mavic Air Quadcopter

DJI’s Mavic Air Quadcopter is the travelling drone lover’s dream. Designed to be ultra lightweight, and even foldable, this is a drone that was made to take with you everywhere. The camera gives you 32 megapixel 180-degree panoramic photos, and with the special immersive goggles, you have never felt closer to really flying. 4K 100 Mbps video gives you professional-grade videos that will blow you away.

Everything about this product is designed to enhance portability, including the completely ergonomic foldable controller. 8 GB of internal storage means you can take a lot of high quality photo and video during every flight, and 6 different quickshot settings give you an array of different artistic options when snapping photos. Max flight time with the Mavic Air Quadcopter is 21 minutes.

No. 5: Holystone – HS700 FPV Drone

Holystone’s HS700 FPV Drone features a high-tech 5G 1080P FHD camera that gives you a 110 degree field of view so you can capture everything in panoramic majesty. With GPS assisted flight, the drone is able to hover effortlessly, and knows when it is running low on battery so it can return home safe and sound. With the HS700 you get 20 minutes of flight time.

Simple controls also make this a great product for those new to the world of drones and flying. One key quick launch gets you up and running simply, and stable flight options let you keep your altitude constant. You can also control the drone with the accompanying app, which lets you plan out flight paths that map to the actual landscape. Quiet power and precision flying is what you get with the Holystone HS700.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about drones

Now that you’ve had a chance to evaluate some of the best products on the U.S. market, for both amateur and professional drone pilots, there is some additional information you will need to make the best choice possible. In the following section, we’ll discuss some of the most important questions asked by users, and we’re positive this will come in handy for you.

Drones have become a key tool for landscape photography and video.
(Source: Inga Linder Kopiecka: 76976058/ 123rf.com)

What is a drone exactly?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, are remotely operated, unmanned aircraft. They were originally designed by and for the military industry, but drones have quickly expanded their spectrum of uses. They are now frequently found in the entertainment, photography and video industries.

We would like to focus on the latter of the two in this article, but it doesn’t mean drones aren’t useful in a wide range of different sectors. These include pipeline or livestock surveillance, firefighting or civil security, and many others.

Amelia EarhartAmerican Aviator

“Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”

What maintenance does my drone need?

The most important care for your drone is to be extra careful when you start flying it. The first few times you take it out and start learning how to handle it, we strongly encourage you to do so in an open space, where there is no obstacle into which it could crash or cause damage to material or humans.

Once you’ve got the piloting under control, remember to be particularly careful with the exterior and interior cleanliness. Air pressure is definitely one of the most recommended ways of cleaning your device, especially if you fly over land where it can accumulate a lot of dirt.

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One of the biggest issues we face with drones is that they can often get lost. This is why a very useful function has been designed: the automatic return to the point of control using GPS technology.

What types of drone are available out there?

As you’ve seen from our ranking, drones can greatly vary, generally depending on their price. The most affordable models are purely designed for recreational use and are popular amongs aviation fans. You can still equip them with the camera of your choosing, which means you have a certain control over the overall price.

The drone market also offers higher performance models – even professional ones – that naturally increase the cost. You should find anything you need: from unmanned aircraft created for the surveillance of large natural spaces, to models designed to support audiovisual productions.

Drones have quickly gained a real place in the sector of tech products.
(Source: Golubovy: 61529164/ 123rf.com)

What are drones used for?

A drone is essentially a way to fly without requiring a crew along with you. As mentioned earlier in the article, drones are now used for far more than just military applications. These days it is not uncommon to see drones engaging in a variety of civilian tasks, including mountain surveillance, traffic monitoring, and forest fire monitoring.

That being said, the recent boom in drone use from the general public is naturally linked with leisure activities, as well as for photography and video.

Characteristic DJI Spark Hubsan x4 Haoxin F21G DJI Mavic Pro GoPro Karma
Flight time 16 minutes 20 minutes 10 minutes 27 minutes 20 minutes
Size and weight 5.63 x 5.63 x 2.1 inches – 10.58 Oz 8.66 x 8.66 x 2.76 inches – 15.52 Oz 4.41 x 4.96 x 1.18 inches – 7.05 Oz 14.25 x 11.46 x 8.27 inches – 26.21 Oz 11.93 x 16.18 x 4.61 inches – 2.20 lbs
Camera CMOS sensor with 1080p at 12MP 1080p HD camera 720p HD, optical flow sensor 4H Ultra HD video, 12MP photos
GPS Return-to-Home function GPS with auto-return N/A Return-to-Home and autopilot functions GPS with auto-return

Are drone images of professional quality?

The quality of the images you get with your drone will obviously depend entirely on the capabilities of the built-in camera. 4K or Ultra HD cameras will provide excellent image quality, while models with fewer functions will lead to a poorer quality for your videos and photos.

On the other hand, the use of drones for professional photographs and videos is a practice that has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. Nowadays, many series, movies and documentaries – True Detective, Jurassic World and Free Solo, for example – are recorded entirely or partially with drones, as well as several photographic campaigns. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of these devices:

Advantages
  • Offer new perspectives for photography
  • Perfect complement for audiovisual productions
  • 4K
Disadvantages
  • Not all drones come with high quality cameras

Shopping Criteria

In the below section, we are going to provide you with some of the most essential criteria to consider when buying your drone. Always be aware that the first thing to keep in mind is the drone’s intended use, because that will determine which characteristics you prioritize over others. Below are the features to always take into consideration:

  • Size and weight
  • Camera
  • Flight duration
  • Flight distance
  • Piloting and GPS

Size and weight

A drone’s size and weight might make a big difference to you. If you are planning on taking your drone everywhere, having something small and easy to transport should be a major consideration. With that in mind, always remember that smaller drones with capabilities similar to larger models tend to be more expensive.

If you’ll use your drone for outdoor photography, it is recommended to opt for a model weighing less than 2 kg, but the ideal would be less than 1 kg. The DJI Spark, for instance, weighs only 300 grams.

Remotes come in all shapes and sizes.
(Source: Itle Watthana: 80283431/ 123rf.com)

Camera

All the drones we have analysed for this article feature a built-in camera, like the majority of models on the U.S. market. Their quality generally goes hand in hand with the price of the drone: you can find anything from high quality cameras with 4K video, to simpler ones, with HD image of no more than 2.0 GB. Your choice will naturally be determined by your use.

Flight duration

As we mentioned before, the flight duration will vary from one model to another. The most professional drones can offer a flying time of up to 20 or 30 minutes, some of which also feature the automatic return option. Simpler, more affordable devices won’t offer more than 5 to 6 minutes, with a useful flight time not exceeding more than half of that.

Model Flight time
DJI Spark 16 minutes
Hubsan x4 20 minutes
Haoxin F21G 10 minutes
DJI Mavic Pro 27 minutes
GoPro Karma 20 minutes

Flight distance

In the same vein, the maximum distance between the drone and its control point depends primarily on how much you’re willing to invest in this product. These distances can generally reach up to 1,640 feet, with more affordable drones offering 164-196 feet of autonomy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.American Human Rights Activist

“We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.”

Piloting and GPS

The way you operate and control your drone is another aspect you can’t overlook. Certain remote controls even include LED screens. You should also think about whether you’ll need a GPS or other such functions. Your GPS, for instance, may include other features such as Return-to-Home (RTH) or the possibility of redoing the initial route without changes.

Summary

Also called unmanned aerial vehicles, drones have very quickly gained a key place in the tech sector. They have had the capacity to evolve out of their original military sphere, reaching civil spaces and the entertainment industry. Aviation lovers, photographers or videographers are all reaping the benefits of these devices.

We’ve done our best to provide you with a broad yet comprehensive overview of what the drone market has to offer, whether you want to use for leisure activities or professional purposes. Remember to evaluate key criteria such as flight time and distance, camera quality or drone size.

If you liked our article, feel free to share it on your social media. Leave us a comment with any suggestion or question in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Goce-Risteski: 27709575/ 123rf.com)

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