Drones - strictly speaking, ‘multicopters’ - are ubiquitous now. We see them in the news, behind the camera filming aerial footage, and more frequently in parks. There is something thrilling about zooming through the air, controlling the futuristic device from your mobile phone.
They’re like animals, too, twitching and purring as you adjust the throttle. Some even have eyes, their beady cameras tuned in to record. We’ve tried a slate of different models: from the Phantom 2 Vision+, with its built-in camera, to the Hubsan Mini Quadcopter, which can be flown indoors. No matter your budget, there’s definitely something here for adults or kids alike.
1. AR Parrot Drone 2.0 & Elite Edition Indoor Hull Sand, amazon, £299 & £40, respectively
A stunning alternative to the more expensive models, this can be controlled by simply tilting your phone forwards or back. Intuitive and versatile it can record HD footage from below as well as in front. Great fun for a hot day in the park, to the extent that I nicknamed our review unit ‘Arthur’.
2. Hubsan Q4 Nano Quadcopter, £28, firstpersonview
Weighing in at under 12g, this tiny quad is like a dragonfly as it zips about. Hover around the living room, or be chased by the cat, as you perform acrobatic ‘flips’. Flight time is a meagre 5 minutes but you can charge it easily using the USB cable. Great for kids, just watch out for any glassware.
3. DJI First Person View Phantom 2 Vision+ Plus Quadcopter V3, £712, firstpersonview
It might be an expensive choice but the Phantom 2 Vision+ can stream live video to your smartphone or tablet. The built-in camera can record HD video at 1080p and is attached to a 3-axis gimbal to stabilise the image. Even better, it can fly for up to 25 minutes and can even be tracked using the radar feature on an app on your phone.
4. Quadcopter with LEDs, £40, red5
This six-axis quad can fly from between 10- and 15-minutes and features LED lighting so you can track it in the dark. It’s great fun, on the cheap, with four rotors to ensure a stable flight. It’s a bit more advanced than your basic model and recommended for people who at least have some history of flight.
5. Hubsan H107D X4 Mini Quadcopter, £100, amazon
Fly around the house for seven minutes with this little beast. You can record footage using the in-built camera to store video onto a micro-SD card. Ideal for any newcomer, these quads need much less space to fly in. Charges via USB.
6. Parrot Rolling Spider, £51, amazon
Another fun one, the rolling spider turns on automatically when thrown. It has two wheels, too, so you can roll along the floor and up walls. They even absorb some of the impact if the engine cuts out, so you don’t have to worry so much about damaging the device. Can reach up to 11mph.
7. DJI Phantom FC40 Quadcopter, £350, amazon
A slightly cheaper version of the expensive Vision Plus, this one only has records in 720p. However its features are still futuristic, including the ability to fly home to its start location if it loses signal, or the battery goes too low. Approximately 12 minutes of battery per charge.
There's no way you can doubt that the Phantom 2 Vision+ is the best - with a long battery life, stabilised HD camera and extensive app features. But if you're on a budget, I'd look to purchase either the Parrot A.R. Drone, with its nifty augmented reality games, or the cheaper rolling spider.