Need To Stretch The Cash? Drones on a budget
Vidius VR drone
If you happen to be active in the drone racing scene, then you’ll know that the drones that synch up to VR goggles, streaming vision from the drone’s camera are fundementals within the community. Now these same VR goggle features are being seen in more and more mainstream models too.
When it comes to drones, Parrot does tend to lean toward entertaiment, rather than the practical, and this is best demonstrated by its long line of minidrones. Following models that can leap onto surfaces, climb walls, and glide across water, the cannon-equipped Mambo seems more like an invention for winding up the neighbors cat than anything else.
Mambo is a quadcopter that comes equiped with a Nerf-like cannon that clip on via a Lego-like panel on top. Fully loaded, it carries six balls that are soft and safe to use, and it can empty the chamber in nine seconds. On top of that, it could even handle the cleanup, with a claw that can be fixed to its underside and grab onto objects weighing up to 4 g (0.15 oz).
Buy the Mambo now on Amazon ($119)
Flybrix Lego drones
In September, startup Flybrix launched DIY drone kits especially designed to teach kids about engineering and robotics, in the hope to enliven imaginations by bringing back a childhood favorite. The kits come as loose sets of Lego bricks, which leaves it up to the budding engineer to put together the pieces and turn it into some kind of magical flying machine. Sounds like your average Lego-building session – or is it?
With motors, propellors, battery and a flight board thrown into the mix, users won’t have to wonder how their creation will take flight, they can actually fire it up see how it goes from the start. The notion behin this is that by seeing how their designs fly and crash, users will be able to learn through trial and error on how to build the ultimate aircraft.
Available now, Flybrix come in a basic kit which relies on smartphone controls for $189, or a $249 kit that includes a dedicated controller.
The PowerUp 3.0 has been around for a few years now, and is not really a drone as such, but still makes our list because it’s a innovative idea and offers something unique in an increasingly crowded market. Oh, and it’s low priced too.
For $50, the PowerUp 3.0 kit can be attached to your best paper airplanes and give them some serious air time. It uses a propellor, small tail rudder and throttle control to slide through the air at the user’s request, as long as they’ve got a paired smartphone handy to control it.
Hubsan FPV X4 Plus
We’ve tested a few of Hubsan’s pint sized quadcopters over the years, and can efinitely say that these are responsive and solidly-built devices – particularly as learner drones. The FPV X4 Plus is the latest from the RC toy-maker and packs a capable camera into quite a small package. But do not be fooled by the size, these have the ability to shoot 720/30fps HD video and stream vision to a 4.3-inch LCD screen that is built into the remote controller.
Earlier this year we took the FPV X4 for a test run and found that it stood up well to our crash landings. This, along with what is a relatively high-resolution camera for a drone this size, make it a good choice for beginners trying to get a feel for aerial cinematography.
If you do treat yourself or a loved one to a new drone this holiday season, be sure to check out our Drone School series for some help in getting off the ground and take a look at the video below to see some of our budget drones in action.