Best 10 Drones for 2017: The Beginner’s List

The latest in the Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series, in which Kike profiles interesting information, research and thoughts on using drones, UAVs and remotely piloted vehicles for journalism and photography.

National Geographic Creative photographer and drone expert Kike Calvo flying an FPV quadcopter is the author of So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones? and Drones for Conservation
National Geographic Creative photographer and sUAV expert Kike Calvo.This ultimate stress-free guide for the drone-obsessed will help you choose your first drone and hopefully inspire you to become a great drone pilot. I have scoured some of the top drone all-around ideas, bringing together a comprehensible list of the most recent and interesting gadgets, quadcopters and Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

On the market for a great first drone? This ultimate stress-free guide for the drone-obsessed will help you choose a beginner drone and hopefully inspire you to become a superb drone pilot. I have scoured some of the top drone all-around ideas, bringing together a comprehensible list -not in order of preference- of the most recent and interesting gadgets, quadcopters and Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Happy flying.

1. National Geographic Quadcopter Drone:  Very easy to fly due to auto orients and one button flips buttons. Works great both indoors and outdoors thanks to its 6-gyro stabilization with altitude holding function. Good control range up to 400 feet, with 10 minute flights on a single charge. This drone can take off or land with the push of a button. It comes with a full color learning guide along with for better instructions. No need to FAA registration in USA due to its light weight.



2. Syma X8C VentureEquipped with the latest 6-axis flight control systems and 3D lock, the Syma X8C has an Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) function and a 2MP HD Camera. Colorful flashing lights, so you can have fun both during the day or night. It comes with blade protectors to protect your blades in flight or from wear or minor crashes.Even I included the Syma X5C 2.4G 6 Axis Gyro HD Camera RC Quadcopter on last year’s list, it deserves to be mention. Equipped with HD camera, its Wind resistant and can be flown indoors or outdoors for about 7 minute flight.


3. Eachine H8 Mini Quadcopter Drone: Lightweight airframe with nice durability. With the Headless Mode, there is no need to adjust the position of the aircraft before flying. It can easily do 3D tumbling. Press one key to activate the return function, and the Eachine will easily find its way home.


4. PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane: The world’s first remote controlled paper airplane conversion kit has a 180 feet/ 55 meter range and a crash-resistant design. Special template paper ensures easy folding and flying spare. It includes a micro USB cable for charging and a spare propeller and rudder. Contains Bluetooth Smart Technology controlled by your smartphone. Playing with this paper plane could well be an educational experience, as the PowerUp 3.0 meshes origami, physics and incorporates all the components of STEAM, (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math).


5. UFO 3000 LED Drone: Designed with vibrant LEDs all over so that you can fly at night in the dark. 3D stunts are possible, allowing you to light up the night sky with awesome stunts and 360º flips with the push of a button. Great for beginners due to its Low/High Speed mode and high visibility. Batteries last 7-9 mins each. Includes bonus battery.


6. Cheerwing CHEER X1: With a Fun biomimetic design, it can easily do 360-degree flips and rolls with just the push of a button. The “headless mode” allows you to fly this quadcopter and just ignore the direction. It can withstand 4 degree wind conditions. Built-in 6-axis gyro, with four-motors driving provides stable flying ability to guarantee free flight for all flying actions.


7. Sky Viper s1700 Stunt Drone: The entire line of 2016 Sky Viper drones was upgraded with first-generation ViperFlight™ firmware and one-touch Auto Launch, Auto Land, Auto Hover and Digital Altitude Control to move up and down in pre-set increments. With a Super Tough Duraflex Body made of resilient polypropylene, its easy to perform easy One-Touch Stunts. You can also check the new Pro Series v2900PRO, which boasts on-board GPS, powerful brushless motors, and extended battery-life.


8. Holy Stone HS170 Predator: Good wind performance, with a range of about 30-50 meters. No FAA registration required as the quadcopter is less than .5lb. Excellent for flips and rolls due to 6-Axis Gyro Technology. It includes colorful LED lights, making it easy to identify at night.

9. The Hubsan X4, an Old Time Favorite: Need some skills before buying a DJI Phantom 4 Professional, a DJI Mavic or a DJI Inspire 2? The Hubsan X4  is light, easy to handle and very similar to certain larger copters. It has the latest 6-axis flight control system with adjustable gyro sensitivity. And above all, it is very easy to fly, for both novice and experts. You can charge it through USB from your computer and no construction is required!


10. UDI U845 WiFi FPV Drone with HD Camera: 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro RTF UFO RC Quadcopter with Headless Mode Gravity Induction and Low Voltage Alarm. The U845 includes a HD WiFi Camera that will allow us to achieve real-time FPV by connecting with IOS or Android via quadcopter wifi real-time video transmission. Each battery lasts 6-9 minutes per flight. The “Gravity Induction” mode allows you to fly the drone forward, backward, left or right in correspondence to the angle at which you hold your mobile device


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Other Popular Mini Drones:

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TheeFun TX4 Quadcopter with Protective Circle

U45 Blue Jay WiFi FPV Quadcopter Drone w/ HD Camera

U818A Wifi FPV Drone

AKASO K88 Quadcopter