I remember a time when camcorders were becoming popular for home movies. Technology has advanced since the late 1970s, when they were on the rise as the new way to film life events. Now we are in a different area, where drones are becoming increasingly popular. The military is not the only group that’s employing them–drones are also being built for personal use and sold in stores. They are used mostly for recording and filming aerial shots for recreational purposes. Most of them are quite expensive. However, did you know that you can purchase quadcopter for under $300 now? This post will talk about five such drones, and will offer you a suggestion of the one we think is the best of the best drones under $300.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Drones Under $300 Comparison
- 2 UP Air One Drone: One of the Best Drones under $300
- 3 JJRC HD8RTF RC Quadcopter Review
- 4 IParrot AR Drone Review
- 5 Hubsan H5015X4 FPV Review
- 6 AEE Technology AP9 GPS Drone Review
- 7 Putting It All Together, Best And Best Budget Drones Under $300
- 8 A Few More Words to the Wise
- 9 Know the Rules
- 10 Non Compliance
- 11 Conclusion of the Matter
Best Drones Under $300 Comparison
UP Air One Drone: One of the Best Drones under $300
This drone is, indeed, fascinating. According to Amazon, this quadcopter has been researched by the GTEN Innovation Company. It has a built-in flight control system, a gimbal and a camera. Also, it is also capable of shooting video, has a one-key return system, and has an automatic return system that brings it right back to you once the battery has started to get low.
This drone under $300 comes with a list of rules for operation. One rule it has on there is that you should wait an hour and a half for the battery to charge fully. If you attempt to operate the unit prematurely, you are setting yourself up for a short filming session. However, you do not have to worry about charging the camera; it’s already powered by the drone itself, as the Amazon website points out.
Another rule is that you should search at least seven satellites before you unlock, and also pull the left-top button to the forward position, enabling you to fly your unit in GPS mode.
Always check the packing list of items that should be there before you attempt to use the unit. The following items should be there. If they are not all there, assume you can’t operate the drone, and contact your manufacturer. According to Amazon, these are the pieces that should come with your drone:
- The drone itself
- Gimbal and camera, one apiece.
- Drone Battery
- Drone Battery Charger
- RC battery
- RC Battery Charger
- Remote Control +FPV Monitor
- 1 user manual
- 1 quick start guide
JJRC HD8RTF RC Quadcopter Review
Please note that for this quadcopter, you are not required to go through the registration procedure. Moreover, this comes with its own 2-megapixel camera and a 5.86 wireless transmission. According to Amazon, this setup allows you to enjoy viewing in real time as images are sent directly to your transmitter screen. There are accelerometers that help ensure stronger wind resistance. That is to your advantage because in the case of drones, a little too much wind can result in a shaky picture at best. So the more wind resistant your unit is, the better it is for you.
Should you choose to buy one of these Quadcopters under $300, the following items are among what you would get with it:
- 1. A carrying case
- 2. A 2 Megapixel camera
- 3. Screen for viewing in real time
- 4. A carrying case
- 5. 2.4 Megahertz transmitter
- 6. The quadcopter itself
- 7. 7.5 comAh battery
- 8. 2 spare motors
- 9. TF Cards
- 10 USB Card Reader
- 11. Four extra blades
- 12. User Manual
- 13. Spare Parts, Replaceable. For example: New pair of motors, in case yours run out during a shoot.
IParrot AR Drone Review
This unit is a remote-controlled quadricopter controlled by using a 10S or Android smartphone or tablet while flying, according to Amazon. You can enjoy 720-pixel high definition live video streaming and recording to your smartphone or tablet while in the midst of flying. There is a free pilot flying app. One lithium metal battery required. In addition, you can record and share videos straight from AR, according to the product description on Amazon.
Not a whole lot of other information about this particular drone is available.
Hubsan H5015X4 FPV Review
This white quadcopter comes with a brushless motor, and HD camera with standard 5.8G wireless transmission distance of 300 meters, according to the Amazon website. The page also says that it comes with a 7.4 volt, 2,700mAh battery. The charge time on that battery is approximately 2.5 hours. It also comes with a 4.3-inch LCD screen. Your flight time before the battery needs recharging is about 19 minutes, one of the best in the world of drones.
Other Things You Should Know
The unit comes with an FPV transmitter with a 5.8 GHz video transmission. It also has a 6-axis flight system that keeps it stable in flight. Other features include GPS hold, return home, follow-me, and headless flight mode.
AEE Technology AP9 GPS Drone Review
This copter is capable of being used in any kind of weather–including precipitation, as long as it’s on the light side. As the Amazon page points out, this drone has an “all-weather body for light and medium rain and snow.” Thus, I would not recommend you try to shoot video using this equipment during a monsoon or a blizzard!
It takes a 5300 mAh intelligent LiPo battery for up to 25 minutes of fly time. I am glad it has the auto return home function. Once the battery begins to die, the unit automatically returns to the point from which it launched into the air.
The unit is compatible with AEE series and Go Pro hero action cameras, which, unfortunately, are not included. However, it comes with 2 camera mounts, one for the AEE Series S-Action Cameras, and the other for Pro Hero Action Cameras. Sorry, but you are going to have to spend the extra money for the cameras.
Putting It All Together, Best And Best Budget Drones Under $300
I have reviewed five best drones under $300 in the preceding paragraphs. Although all of the above drones had their good–and not so good– points, my favorite of them all was the UP air drone. It is an easy one on which to train. A beginner would have an easy time learning, because the product description is full of helpful hints for first-time users.
I also like the shape, and the way the camera fits within the half-circle. This helps you get a panoramic view of the place you are shooting. Also, Amazon credits the anhedral shape with “more stable shooting and better GPS accessibility.” By more stable shooting, perhaps, means that the unit is less susceptible to the blowing of the winds on the day of a shoot. Indeed, one of the most annoying things to happen to a drone operator is that if the wind starts blowing, the picture becomes shaky because the camera shakes along with the rest of the body. The shape of this particular model, then, will help stabilize the unit up to a certain wind speed.
GPS accessiblility is also important, for you don’t the global positioning system to lose track of the unit, as has been known to happen. Sometimes units have disappeared and have been gone forever. This is not good, for according to the press release by the United States Government back in June 2016, you as a drone operator must keep your unit in plain sight.
Also, it is good to know that the unit comes with a camera. This means that you don’t have to go out of your way to spend money on a camera, which is a prerequisite for the unit to work the way you want it to. Its function is to take pictures, and you have to have a camera in order to do that. Or the purpose of having a drone is defeated. So I must say that the UP Air Drone is, overall, the best of the best drones under $300.
Even though we’ve concluded that the UP Air Drone is the king when it comes to the Best Drones Under 300 in terms of performance and quality–how about affordability? If your wallet is your main concern right now, why not consider the RC Quadcopter Potensic Premium JJRC HD8 RTFRC? It comes with a remote control with a screen on it, just like the UP Air drone. Unlike the UP Air Drone, which is more–it comes with its own carrying case.
And let me mention one other thing about the RC Quadcopter–it does not require registration with the United States Government, according to the Amazon website. That will lower the total cost of ownership somewhat.
A Few More Words to the Wise
Do not buy a drone without thoroughly researching the brand. Even though in the preceding essay, I have presented five examples of good, solid drones below $300, it’s best to ask a few questions about the brand. Indeed, one of the biggest complaints I have encountered in my research is that some brands discussed here have little or no technical support. Screens have gone blank, and the unit is in disrepair. Often they slam against trees, and are broken. Ask up front what the warranty policy is. And since warranties have time limits on them–if there’s a warranty–ask them what the termination date is. Or read the instruction manual, or warranty. It should tell you in there.
Don’t just believe what you read. Ask your friends who’ve bought drones from the manufacturer or store from which you are interested in buying yours. If they have experienced similar frustrations to the ones you’ve heard about on Amazon, take that as a caveat against buying from them. Of course, also read whatever reports there may be about them in the Better Business Bureau. If the report is full of complaints, avoid them.
Indeed, buying a drone is a significant monetary investment. So make sure when you buy the drone that all the parts are there, and if not, ask yourself one very important question: Is there a customer service line to which you can complain? If the company is ethical, they will send you a brand new machine without your having to invest another cent towards a new drone.
Know the Rules
There are rules which govern these aircraft, like all other aircraft, to ensure the safety of everyone involved in an unmanned aircraft shoot. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, you must keep your aircraft in plain view. This is all the more reason why if your aircraft wanders away, you should have a customer service number handy to report it to the manufacturer. Since drones are still relatively new, the manufacturer needs to be made aware of such defects.
Another thing that was stressed in the press release was that drones are for operation during the day, and at dusk, provided that drone has lights on it for operating it at sundown. This is so that the drone doesn’t damage property–or crash into people–at night.
Also, you have an obligation to register with the FFA unless otherwise noted. According to the Know Before You Fly website, If your drone is between .55 pounds and 55 pounds, you must register it with the FFA. Figure the cost of doing that into your overall drone budget. This registration is good for three years.
The penalties for non-compliance, are indeed hefty. According to the Know Before You Fly document, the penalties can range from a civil penalty of $27, 500 to a criminal penalty of $250,000 plus a 3-year prison sentence. Indeed, the FFA takes drones and the safety of everyone around them very seriously. Read the rules before you buy, and especially before you launch. Otherwise what was supposed to have been a fun hobby, or promising movie career, can turn into a lifetime of regrets.
Conclusion of the Matter
What this review proves is that if you want to get into drone-flying, you do not have to spend thousands of dollars on this hobby. It is a fun and very creative way to take selfies, or to take professional movies and pictures. The only thing you need is a few hundred dollars plus the patience and willingness to learn how to do it safely and creatively. If you buy the right brand and do your research before buying–then with a bit of practice, you will be taking pictures and home movies like a professional.