Drone buying guide: Factors and features to consider when buying a drone
What do you think it costs to find a cheaper, better and more durable drone nowadays? …Money? Absolutely not! You can spend $2000 to buy exactly what you could have bought with $500 only if you had paid some attention. With several online traders selling drones nowadays, buying a really great drone does not just cost money anymore; it also costs some time and some careful attention to seemingly simple but ultimately important factors. In the olden days, when buying drones, you only got what you paid (financially) for. That has not really changed, it is just that nowadays you have to pay more attention than money in order to get the best drone offer among the many that are blasted all over the internet. In this awesome edition, we compiled some 6 Essential Factors to Consider before purchasing any new drone from the market. As you will notice, the cost of a drone is the sixth factor in importance when buying nowadays. So, what is it that you must keep in mind?
Factor 1: Seller & Drone’s Authenticity
If you have been keen on drone sellers, then you may have noted that trust has become a very rare commodity nowadays in the market. Trustworthy sellers have it all in their sales and you will get to see this from their online reviews and most importantly in their after-sales services as well as other minor things like a warranty for their drone sales. Now, this is not to imply that new sellers, who don’t have reviews, should not sell their product. In fact, even the established sellers at times get issues with trust. The point here is that the seller should provide anything that can guarantee the authenticity of a product e.g. giving it some warranty or offering to replace in case the product malfunctions at its arrival. Such an assurance of security is surely an assurance of quality.
So, the next time you intend to buy a durable drone, look out for such assurances. Use this post as your checklist and look for the above assurance. It will hardly be provided by sellers of substandard drones. So, if a seller will lack this, close that page and check out a different seller. If a seller has not done enough to earn trust, then such a seller should honestly not earn your hard-earned coin, (or) should he/she? Search and search, my dear buyer, search for this assurance: This is the first coin you pay for a durable drone.
Factor 2: Drone’s body material quality = drone’s durability
Often, a drone’s material quality equals a drone’s durability. Well, to someone who has never bought a drone before, this may not sound as important as we are trying to make it look. But think of how “happy” you will be if you accidentally crashed your $700 drone on the ground (something that happens often) and it stopped working completely? Won’t you feel like you should never buy another drone ever? Yet, with the addictiveness of flying, you will slowly get tempted to purchase another one and the problem repeats again!
So, the quality of a drone’s body material is something worth considering. Usually, cheap-priced drones have a body casing of ordinary plastic or strong plastic. These types of drones are usually very catchy by looks but they often spoil after very few crashes. The best options are carbon fiber and glass fiber options that are all so durable and much better in performance. In recent times, there have been aluminum casings options as well that are durable too. The only bone you too may find with Aluminum is that it is sometimes too shiny, hard to clean and at its worst, it does not support good cooling of the internal parts of a drone. So, aluminum is not very much recommendable; but if it’s all you can afford, well, in that case, it is just better than a kick in the pants.
Also, consider carefully the composition of the propellers and the landing gear as these two are the most notorious parts to break in a normal drone.
Factor 3: Ease of replacement parts acquisition
This is a factor that most new buyers do neglect at their first buy, but it obviously haunts them when their drones break down. While the little bot is all well and buzzing in the air, you are not likely to have a thought it breaking any time during that flight. But it all happens that the drone’s propeller breaks or the battery malfunctions, or the internal motor just jams, or … (name your favorite accident) happens when at the epitome fun of the flight. And only at this time do you usually wish there was some way to get a spare part or a quick fix then you could continue flying.
Luckily, most of the popular drones have their spare parts easily available on sale and you don't have to buy a whole new drone just because its landing gear no longer works. So, before buying a drone, also make a point to the search if there could be an available vendor of the drone's spare parts. If there is none, kindly consider not buying the drone (no matter how good it looks). Drones don't last forever.
Factor 4: Could you do BNF (Bind-and-Fly) or RTF (Ready-to-Fly)?
Not all drones come when they are very ready to fly (RTF). Some drones may require you to get your hands a little dirty before you can set them on the airwaves. That is, they come as parts and your job becomes that of welding them before they can take a flight, thus the term (Bind and Fly). One good example of a popular BNF in the market is the Walkera QR X350. Whereas reason and common logic could dictate that learners opt for the RTF drones; cost, performance, and experience will tend to make one love the BNF drones. But that is beside the point; preferences change with personal experiences too and it's not wise to argue that now.
The point, however, is that, if you have got a phobia of the screwdriver, always consider buying RTF drones than BNF drones.
Factor 5: Ease of use
There is a popular argument that cheaper drones should be reserved for learners and the expensive ones for professionals. However, the contrary could actually be true. This owes mainly to the ease of using a drone. Well, let's face it, if you have never flown drone before and you come across a drone with a manual box controller with gears and blank scary labeled buttons how likely are you to enjoy that flight as opposed to using an app on your smartphone with an elevated view from the plane? Then again, if you are a professional or a drone fanatic, you may not feel too much of a pinch when using manual controllers. The gears could be just fine.
The best drones in this category have an FPV (First-Person-View) ability (through a phone app or a controller) that allows you to view the world like your drone views it from the roof. Besides, they are often smart enough to tell you when they have wandered too far away from the control distance and should be able to be controlled even via GPS. The worst drones in this classification are those that assume manual controllers and they are usually hard to learn and fly.
But, if you have to learn to use both controllers (for whatever reasons whatsoever), it could be very recommendable that you opt to learn the manual controllers before advancing to the easy-to-use app controlled drones.
Factor 6: Cost
Cost is also a very important aspect to consider when buying drones. Usually, a higher cost could be an assurance of quality and performance. However, this is not always guaranteed, all the above-discussed factors should carefully be considered before you can purchase a drone. There you go now. Don’t gamble with your coin; be sure before you make a trade.
Factor 7: Camera
Nothing is more enchanting than a jolly good “selfie” taken from the skies. Close to 8 in every 10 people who purchase drones will often consider carefully the Camera quality and the clarity of images which is often defined by the camera resolution. Higher the camera resolution normally assures higher chances of taking nice images.
Here too, you may need to consider if the drone actually comes with an inbuilt camera or if it does accept vendor cameras like the awesome GoPro Cameras. If the inbuilt camera is well off, take it; otherwise, you can get a BNF drone and you buy it a nice vendor camera to accompany it.
Lastly, drone videos do appear shaky and they aren't often nice to look at. However, if you get a drone with a nice Gimbal feature, this could help you off to shoot professional videos.
Now, if you are just a fanatic, you may not need to know all this stuff about cameras, but what about the flight time for having fun?
Factor 8: Battery
A good battery is a guarantee of a longer flight time. Usually, cheaper priced drones (toys) do give you a flight time of between 6 and 10 minutes while the advanced drones do give you a flight time of between 30 and 1 hour. Sadly, you may have noted that the drone often takes a time span that is much lower than the rated time. This is because manufacturers test their drones in ideal environments with no abnormal air resistance, no heavy loads on the drones, and generally not much obstruction to the drone’s flight. However, in an ideal environment, they could even last half of the stated flight time. Thus, it is highly recommended that if you would like to fly longer consider the following important points:
i.Buy two or more batteries.
ii.Buy drones that take a shorter charging time and longer flight time.
iii.Buy drones whose replacement batteries and chargers are easy to acquire.
Factor 9: Control range
Before you buy a drone, please consider carefully the range of which you will be able to effectively control a drone as well as the wireless medium of signal transmission. Often, cheap drones that are controlled by Bluetooth are designed for in-house flights. If you take such a drone out in the field, it may wander off onto the trees and lose its connections. This in essence could imply that you may have just thrown away your bot.
On the other hand, there are some drones that are controlled by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi that are really strong in the airwaves, have a longer control distance and above all, they hardly shake off their connection. Of course, they do cost a fortune, but it's worth it since you will not easily lose them or damage them. Advanced drones care able to have a limitless control distance and can be controlled via GPS, however, such bots usually range between $1500 -$2500, if you can afford one such drone, boy, go get it! It’s worth the cut.
Factor 10: Design
Everything could be cool so far, but the design is definitely something worth checking out too. Well, we all love good performing drones being in the air; but we also love some pomp in the air too, don’t we? Besides, a good design could also imply lesser air resistance when navigating and even a reduced chance of breaking in case of accidents. I mean, just consider how long a drone lasts once it has its propeller guards intact. Besides, good designing also enables one to easily do simple repairs on the drone if it gets damaged or even makes it cool faster too.
To know how much a drone’s design affects its performance, just check out some reviews (usually from the critics) and see if they complain about the design of a drone. If all is cool, don’t hesitate to buy the drone.
Factor 11: Drone controller
The drone controller has much to do with the ease of controlling a drone (as discussed above). If you are a newbie, it is recommended that you buy drones that are app-controlled rather than those controlled by manual controllers. However, if you are okay with the good old control gears, feel free to choose any drone you would prefer, nothing can get any worse.
Hey! Remember this is very, very, important
Drones and UFOs have not been accepted for filming in many places/countries. And in other places, they are absolutely forbidden. This is not without cause; no one acts normal once he/she spots some buzzing camera closing in near him/her. This is because everybody else (apart from you) will think their confidentiality is being infringed. Thus, you may sometimes get yourself taking a flight behind bars if you don’t fly legally.