Before you set off on your mission to find drones sold locally wherever it is you are located, you’ll want to understand what your options are going to be AND what to expect to pay for those options. Not all drones are equal, and that is the understatement of the year. For those just embarking on this mission, read through this guide to better understand what to expect before you set foot in your local hobby store.
The truth is that most localities just won’t give you the options that the great world-wide-web will. You might find some of the top brands available locally at places like Hobbytown or even your local Wal-Mart.
These drones are typically the higher priced, professional drones like DJI or Yuneec, which can run anywhere from $600 up to several thousands of dollars. What you won’t find is lower priced beginner drones that are durable and reliable. Yes, you can find lower priced drones that won’t break down after the first few uses.
So what type of drone user are you? Beginner, Hobby or Professional?
You can find great drones that mimic professional drones without paying professional prices. Drones like the JJR/C H49 SOL FPV, sold at Gnarly Ninja, sell for around $70. These mini drones are so small they fit in your pocket and take great HD pictures and video. The one drawback for small drones like this are the short flight times, but for quality and affordability (and portability) the SOL FPV really can’t be beat.
$70 is about as affordable as you are going to find for a really nice drone with a camera. You can find other beginner, toy like drones for under $50, but typically they are junk, made for kids, and will break down sooner than later. Otherwise, be expected to pay between $100-$200 for a nice drone that is easy to fly and made for starters.
This is where the drones start getting a bit hefty in pricing. A decent hobby drone will run a minimum of $200 because there are a few more bells and whistles that came with these.
The hobby drones are one step up from the beginner drones because you start to get into a little more advanced options here. These drones typically have longer flight times, better cameras, and other features like automatic return mode and follow mode.
These drones are generally great for having fun and messing around with flying and taking some cool video, which means they are a bit tougher to fly than beginner drones, but not anywhere near as good nor as expensive as the professional drones.
These are the drones that start off at about $700 for some of the cheaper DJI models. You will find most of these drones locally. Keep in mind again, just because they are all that is available local, doesn’t mean you have to shovel out $1k for a drone. And they will try to sell you on this. But the value you get for the money you pay is actually well worth it.
The DJI brand, including the more popular Mavic models, are some of the best drones you can buy. And they are backed up by warranties and guarantees you just can’t normally find with some of the cheaper brands.
Some of the base models will start off around $700, but you can buy last years models for around $600 now. If you want the whole kits that come with extra batteries, more advanced flying controls, and more parts and accessories, be expected pay upwards of $1500.
As an aside, I want to make you well aware of some of the pitfalls that come with flying these fun toys. Like with any new hobby, expect a decent sized learning curve.
The brand new models of drones do a really good job of piloting drones as easy as possible, but it will take some getting used to. The more advanced drones (yes the ones that cost more money) are much easier to fly because of some of the built-in features. And when you are paying a thousand dollars for a drone, you want to make sure you don’t crash it and ruin it after the first flight. And with these built-in features they make it darn near impossible to wreck it or lose it.
With that being said, and since there are so many moving and working parts on these drones, things will inevitably breakdown with extended use. You will often find yourself replacing propellers, tightening screws, adjusting and readjusting cameras, etc.
I hope this guide on drones was helpful to you! In 2018 you now have a plethora of options to choose from and are no longer limited to what your local retailers keep in stock. Use your due diligence and find a drone that is suitable for your skill level and price point, then you can always upgrade later.