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Tis the season and suddenly you find yourself tasked with the monumental decision of purchasing and gifting the season’s must-have gift for the tweens and teens obsessed with the latest tech gadgets. Drones are going to be hot again this year but if you’re concerned about buying a drone without being an aerospace technology expert, I’m here to reassure you that it’s ok!
This handy cheat sheet features six factors to consider when buying a drone such as size, portability, features to look out for, and price points. Read this, bookmark it, pin it, email it, or print it out and take it with you to the store so you can shop confidently and know you’re getting exactly what they want this holiday season.
6 Things to Consider When Buying a Drone
- Price— Drones come in wide ranges of prices, from $50 to $5,000. You’re typically looking at drones that have a variety of features costing between $100 and $400. For the first-time drone user, a solid selection is going to be in the $150 range, like the SkyViper V2450 GPS Streaming Drone ($62.97 on Amazon). For more professional features, you can always go higher.
- Ease of Use— If this is the first drone for the recipient or it’s for someone who is not prone to following a lot of directions, aim for the drones that have built-in automatic flight (auto-pilot being the key word) features or easy navigation paddles on the remote. Too many features and it can become frustrating to use or the drone can malfunction and crash. If you can attach a mobile device to it to commandeer it, even better!
- GPS/Tracking the Flight— Think of a GPS feature on a drone as an automatic, constant awareness of where it goes, even when you can’t see it anymore. It went over that neighbor’s house? Forget about it! You aren’t 20 feet tall to see over those trees? No worries! Drones with GPS often have auto-pilot home features where one command automatically returns the drone to where you’ve set the home coordinates.
- Camera— What’s the fun in having a drone if you can’t create a video of flying it, looking down on you or a cool landscape? A bird’s eye camera view is incredible—and with a drone that has a streaming camera built-in, you can control your visual experience as you fly it. Be sure to select a drone whose camera has at least a 720p frame rate for good picture quality. Another nice option is the ability to stream video to your phone for immediate gratification.
- Battery Life— All the bells and whistles on a drone suck its battery life to keep in the air. Get the drone that suits the gift recipient’s lifestyle. If you know they’ll only play with it for an hour or two tops per session, a battery of 2-3 hours suffices. If they plan to fly it for longer, it’s worth it to look into buying a more expensive model, or consider drones with less features that require less battery use.
- Indoor/Outdoor— Not all drones are created equal. Some want to live free out in the wild…others like to stay indoors. Get yourself one that can do both with an indoor mode setting. An equally versatile drone allows the drone to be used inside a space (in case of bad weather) as well as outside where flight is more independent. The sky’s the limit, after all!
Now that you’re armed with the most important information to make buying a drone easier, the next step is to find where to purchase the model you’ve selected. If you’re going to want to buy it in-store, your local Best Buy, Target, Walmart and electronics stores are good choices or you can buy it from Amazon and other online retailers and have it shipped.
Another tip: Make sure to place your order before next Tuesday, December 12 since the delivery industry gets swamped with last minute shipping and planning ahead helps your holiday be merry and bright when that drone takes flight.