November 11, 2014 Comments Off on 4 Best Quadcopters of 2014 Buying Guides

4 Best Quadcopters of 2014

4 best quadcopters

In early 2014 I finally decided to buy a quadcopter. I looked all over the web and did a heavy amount of research on what I thought would be the best quadcopter for me. Looking back at all the hard work I did, I realized that many people were probably going through the trouble of doing the same exact research. I decided to give back to the community by sharing what my decision process was and the what the key factors were in purchasing my own quadcopter from the many that were for sale. Please use my charts to browse the different quadcopters from the top manufacturers. I’ve gathered information from all the various websites and collected them here. It’ll be useful for both quadcopter enthusiast and beginners alike.

Make sure to come back on a regular basis! My goal is to not only provide quadcopter reviews, but also provide news and hopefully some flyer education. I guarantee that you’ll get impartial advice from me – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Check out the table of quadcopters and their specs to help you compare the different quadcopters so that you can make an educated choice.

This list of quadcopters will change over time, but here are the quadcopters that have impressed me:

#1 – The DJI Phantom 2 Vision (The best quadcopter with a camera, if you can afford it)

See the Quadcopter Academy full review of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision

dji phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-3D Gimbal

DJI Phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-3D Gimbal

If you have the cash, the DJI Phantom 2 family of quadcopters are the fastest way to get started with aerial photography.  After opening the DJI Phantom 2 Vision, you’re ready-to-fly (RTF) in about 5 minutes.  It’s the perfect high performance quadcopter that has all the great features that the other quadcopters have to offer. The stock camera on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision is one of the best stock cameras for a quadcopter. It has a single-axis, 60 degree tilt capability, 14MP camera that can also record 1080P HD video recordings. DJI certainly pulled out all the stops for this quad – some have said the picture quality is even better than the GoPro Hero3.

What else do you need for great aerial photography? Responsive controls. While some other quads like the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 rely on an app to handle it, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision gives you the option of an app or a traditional two-stick RC-helicopter-styled control. The DJI Phantom 2 Vision immediately reacts to any changes in direction, giving you fine-grain control of the quad. At 4x the cost of another one of our favorites the Parrot AR Drone 2.0, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision is definitely aimed at the higher end of the hobby quadcopter market. But because of its ease of use and great camera, it’s the perfect quad for any level flyer, from beginner to advanced enthusiast.   It’s really the perfect all-in-one package! >> Check out discount pricing and reviews for the DJI Phantom 2 Vision at Amazon.

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision also has several variations for people who are looking for more specific aerial photography needs:

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

The Vision+ are for people looking for enhanced functionality for aerial photography.  Instead of the single-axis camera that comes with the regular Vision, the Vision+ boasts a 3-axis brushless gimbal with an attached HD 1080p, 14MP camera, capturing video at 1080p/30, 25, 1080i/60, and 720p/60 and stills in JPG or Adobe DNG format.  In addition to adding a 3-axis gimbal, DJI added image stabilization and a longer battery life.  The downside?  The Vision+’s camera is part of the gimbal, not allowing you to easily upgrade the camera.  >> See prices of the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ at Amazon.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision and Zenmuse H3-3D Gimbal

If you want to use your own GoPro (Hero 2, 3, or 3+) or want to upgrade to a better GoPro in the future, the attached Zenmuse H3-3D brushless gimbal mount is a better solution.  Of course there are downsides to having a third-party camera attached to your drone – to have a first-person-view (FPV) real-time experience, you need to purchase an additional transmitter (around $70) and receiver (can be around $200), and also you must do a little soldering, which some people may not be comfortable with.    In addition, it will add some weight to your quad, which will shorten your quadcopters flight time, as it will take more lift to carry around the extra weight.  >> See reviews and prices at Amazon.

One note of warning, while the quadcopters are pretty durable the gimbals are very fragile.  If you’re uncomfortable flying a quadcopter around, a good idea might be to buy a cheaper toy quadcopter like the Hubsan X4 H107 (see below) for indoor flight training first.  Once you feel comfortable flying a toy quadcopters, then it will be time to upgrade to a hobby quadcopter like the DJI Phantom 2.

#2 – The Walkera QR X350 (Great for intermediate/advanced flyers – not great for aerial photography)

See the Quadcopter Academy full review

Walkera QR X350

Walkera QR X350

For the rest of us who don’t have a money tree in our backyard, the Walkera QR X350 is the next best option for a quadcopter, after the DJI Phantom 2 Vision.  It’s a great alternative to the DJI Phantom 2 Vision but it’s made for the advanced flyer. This bad boy requires experience flying an RC helicopter or a micro quadcopter. The flight controls are very sensitive, and have introduced many beginners to concrete sandwiches. However, the quadcopter does have SAFE technology, which protects beginners from shooting themselves in the foot all the time. The benefit of the QR X350 is that you can simply add a GoPro onto the camera mount that it comes with and you’re ready to go for your aerial photography.  The focus really isn’t photography, but it does a good job at it.

While the Walkera QR X350 isn’t the DJI Phantom 2 Vision, the $400 price difference more than makes up for it. If the DJI Phantom 2 Vision is the Ferrari, then this is your Nissan Maxima – you can do what you need to do, with a little bit of zip and style. It’s definitely one of the quads to consider when making your purchasing decision.   >>See all the pricing and reviews for the Walkera QR X350 on Amazon.

#3 – Parrot AR Drone 2.0 (The best overall value for beginners)

See Quadcopter Academy full review

Parrot AR Drone 2.0

Parrot AR Drone 2.0

The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is the best overall value for beginners. It’s setup right from the get go with everything you need to start exploring the world of flight with quadcopters. You have a great camera and also great controls if you opt for the Nvidia Shield instead of the app. One benefit of having everything run through your device is that you instantly have the video and photos available for upload or just showing off to your friends. The other cool feature is the stunt mode which allows you to really have fun with a bigger quadcopter. This was a great addition to this version of the quadcopter, which adds more fun to the overall flight, something the first version never had.

Let’s not forget about the price. This comes in about $200 cheaper than the Walkera, and over $600 cheaper than the DJI Phantom 2 Vision.  At the end of the day, this quadcopter gives you everything you need to really get a feel for the quadcopter flight, but not really a good option if you’re serious about aerial photography.   If you want to do aerial photography, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision quads are a better option.  However, if you’re the type to jump around from hobby to hobby, this is probably the a good quadcopter for you to test out this hobby before making an upgrade to either the Walkera QR X350 or the DJI Phantom 2 Vision.  >> Great deals at Amazon for the Parrot AR Drone 2.0.

#4 – Hubsan X4 H107 Micro Quadcopter (The beginner option)

See the Quadcopter Academy full review

Hubsan X4 H107

Hubsan X4 H107

If you’re looking to learn how to fly and do aerial maneuvers, the other quadcopters aren’t as forgiving to novices who attempt them.  However, micro quadcopters like the Hubsan X4 107 are perfect for those looking to learn how to fly quadcopters and practice aerial maneuvers on the cheap. No one wants to spend $1000, only to end up crashing it on a failed aerial flip. Watching your quadcopter upside down zoom straight down is not fun – other DJI Phantom 2 Vision owners have called the experience a “$1000 laxative.”

The Hubsan X4 H107 was only $40 the last time we saw it on Amazon. It’s really a fun, zippy, responsive quadcopter that you can also fly at night because of the newly added blue LED lights. It has a six-axis flight control that allows you to do crazy flips in the air, that are really challenging for even some of the bigger quads.  After the first flip, I fell in love with this micro quad.  You’ll most likely find me flying this around the house, bothering my girlfriend while she’s watching tv! I can’t say this enough – it’s really a fun quadcopter to fly! >> See the Husban X4 H107 Micro Quadcopter on Amazon.

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