CES 2016 is in full swing, and as expected, the big boy toy of the moment, the drone, is stealing the spotlight. And whether you’re doing high-level cinematography, shooting action sports clips or engaging in creepy surveillance, 2016 promises to be the year you can truly dominate the skies. From autonomous UAVs to propeller-less flyers, the following dope drones are worth keeping on your radar.
Yuneec Typhoon H: The Typhoon H comes at you like a category 5 storm. An amazing 360-degree Gimbal camera and retractable landing gear are enough to justify the $1,799 price tag. But Yuneec doesn’t stop there. A 7-inch integrated display and 720p HD video downlink give you spectacular real-time video presentation. And the Typhoon keeps the family in focus with safety features such as dynamic return home, variable speed control and FAA No Fly.
Parrot Disco: A fixed-wing shape design and intuitive autopilot system make the Parrot Disco one of the most user-friendly drones out there. Packed with sensors to keep you flying straight, the Disco tops out at 50 mph, significantly faster than the competition. And the fixed-wing structure provides for better battery life over the standard quadcopter; Parrot promises 45 minutes of flight time per charge.
Airdog: What do you get when you combining a max speed of 45 mph with 10 to 20 minutes of flight time? An opportunity to showoff one’s aerial awesomeness. The Airdog has action sports in mind. Water-resistant components and a foldable design make it ready for rugged terrain. Best features? The tracking system that couples a GPS link with your smartphone, and a special armband with an accelerometer, tracking and anticipating all movement.
Hexo+: Completely automated from takeoff to landing, this craft is controlled by its accompanying app. Packed with an entire library full of cinematic camera options and designed by motion picture experts, it’s like a pocket Scorcese. GoPro compatibility, state of the art image stabilization tech and a top speed of 45 mph round out some impressive features. And the quarterly functional upgrades to the app and firmware guarantee a long lifecycle in the skies.
Ghost Drone 2.0: Immersion is the name of the game, and the Ghostdrone 2.0 is in it to win it. Tilt Mode makes your phone the ultimate motion-sensor controller, as the feature allows you to angle your hand and have the Ghost follow suit. As if that wasn’t cool enough, check these specs: 12-million-pixel photos, 93-degree wide-angle field of view and, yes, 4K video. Oh, and strap on the VR headset for the ultimate immersion into the world of your drone.
DJI Phantom 3 4K: Upgraded with 4K video, the Phantom 3 captures marvelous visuals powered by a Sony Exmor R BSI 1/2.3", the same camera found in DJI’s top-of-the-line professional model. Automated flight modes like Follow Me are helpful for spontaneous photo ops, and the Way Point and Point of Interest modes nail the action shots. Working without the Lightbridge video link of the Professional model, distance is limited to ¾ of a mile, which is fine given FAA regulations not allowing a drone out of the line of sight of a pilot anyhow.
Parrot AR Drone 2.0: Featuring an aggressive streamlined design, the AR Drone 2.0 offers a reinforced indoor hull to protect against accidental collisions. The FreeFlight 2.0 app serves as the gateway to all the flight modes, including capturing 720p HD video and pictures from your device and uploading them to sites like YouTube. Not bad for 300 bucks!
Axis VIDIUS: No shrink ray needed here. The Vidius places you in the pilot seat of the smallest FPV drone on the market. Zip around performing flips and rolls up to 100 feet away, all the while recording and streaming video live either through your favorite Android or Apple device or the included 2.4 gHz controller. Six-axis gyro stabilization and three-speeds programming should let you fly like an eagle. A palm-sized electronic eagle.
Lily: Forget coercing a buddy to tag along with a GoPro. This UAV tracks and films your every movement autonomously. The Lily won an invitation to this year’s CES by virtue of being so uniquely helpful. Using the wrist-worn controller, anyone can set it to follow, lead, circle, scout ahead and more. Simply toss this three-pound drone in the air and watch it get all the best shots. It’s also waterproof, in case your stunts are of the aquatic variety.
Onagofly: Onagofly is controlled with your smartphone and meant for aerial selfies, recording spectacular 1080p HD video in the air. Through the use of a direct Wi-Fi connection, you can navigate the skies up to 98 feet away. Built-in GPS syncs with your present position, the onboard barometric sensor helps with hovering in place, and oh yeah, the Sony-made camera has facial and smile detection for instant glamour shots.