Had you considered buying a drone about two years ago, most people would have labelled you as crazy. But nowadays, over the past year at least, that's what the buzz is all about. They have been gaining in popularity and more and more commercial applications have developed for them. The two main competitors are Parrot who have now released the 2.0 version of their AR Drone for amateurs, and DJI Phantom which priced at over $1,000 is for the more serious players in the drone arena.
The AR Drone is priced at about $300 and up depending on whether you opt to go for any extra features such as GPS based auto-pilot, an extra battery or extra memory in the form of a USB plug-in stick. This makes it more affordable and it would not surprise me if it becomes one of the top Christmas gifts this year!
So which drone should I buy?
Say you're a beginner; you watched a few drone videos and are all excited about being able to fly it around your city and take pictures from perspectives and angles you could not access before.
One of the most important features nowadays is the ability to film high definition video; if you wish to display your drone video art to friends, then this is essential. The good news is that HD video cameras have become cheaper and cheaper nowadays and both the Parrot AR Drone and the DJI Phantom have them.
As previously mentioned GPS is optional for the AR Drone and can be had by buying a ‘flight recorder' for about $140 off Amazon. However, the DJI Phantom comes with GPS capability and a ‘return home' feature built in.
Remote Control Capability
Apart from the price difference between these two drones, the way they are controlled is the next largest difference. Parrot, with help from French researchers have created quite an intuitive app for iOS and Android, called Parrot Freeflight. The AR Parrot 2.0 drone basically acts as a WiFi hotspot which connects to your smartphone or tablet and this allows it to stream HD video directly to your device.
You can also control the drone by tilting your phone forward, backwards, left or right, just as you would in a racing or flying game on the iPhone. The Freeflight app also allows you to directly share the videos to Facebook, YouTube or Vimeo directly from within the app.
Other differences between the two drones comprise of the flying range; 25 minutes on a battery charge for the Parrot and up to 40 minutes for the DJI Phantom. The DJI Phantom is also slightly heavier and some reports say that it provides better stability in windy conditions, but both drones are reasonably stable for that. Replacement parts are easily available to buy from Amazon for both models.