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2015 Top 5 Drones Under $100

Today Drones comes in all shapes, sizes and also in al ranges of price. You can get a Phantom 1 or a DJI Inspire for a few hundred bucks or you could get a small Hubsan X4 or a Syma X5C4 for less than a $100. However, when price is a sensitive issue, you must pay attention to the quality of the product you are paying for.

Below you will find our review of the top 5 drones under $100:

Hubsan X4 H107C – Price: $55

Pros: Great price, good camera and easy to use.

Cons: Very small and a hard covered body, which makes it more easy to smash that other flexible devices.

Hubsan X4 H107C

The Hubsan X4 H107C is without a doubt one of the preferred choices to start learning and was the most sold under $100 drones last christmas.

In terms of design the Hubsan might not seem so especial as other drones in the same price tag, or like the more expensive ones that seems like something out of The Matrix or the pet of Terminator, but the Hubsan is a solid piece of device that transcends the lack of a striking design and compensates this in other ways. The Hubsan is specially durable, what makes it a perfect gift for kids.

One of the most common complaints about the Hubsan is its size: Can be held in the palm of you hand. Often buyers realize this when the package arrive, but the complaints about this are only fault of poor product research previous to buy. The Hubsan has never been marketed as a Boeing. The Hubsan was created with the beginners market on focus and is in this category that really shines.

The device can be used with or without the propeller’s guard.

The camera is a 2.0 MP static camera that takes decent pictures and videos, but independently of what the package might say, it is not HD (at least not 21st century HD). Being that said, the quality of the footage is pretty good for the price tag and if you are a beginner you won’t be needing more image quality for now, believe me. You will be more focused on controlling the device and achieve a stable flight, at least until you learn your way as a pilot.

Something to take into consideration is that the camera of the Hubsan is static, only points straight ahead. Might not be a big deal but sure is something that could be modified in future versions of the device.

The Hubsan X4 H107C comes with a removable battery that can be replaced right away without removing any other part. The battery life is about 8 minutes of flight time. You could buy “enhanced” batteries on Amazon, but we would recommend against it, since the size of the so call enhanced batteries is significantly bigger that the standard ones and hangs out the device at all times. This could cause additional damages in case of a crash.

The overall flight experience with the Hubsan X4 H107C very good and relatively easy to control in comparing with other drones in the price range. It might be a little shaky at first if you don’t have experience controlling aircrafts, but is not hard to master after a few flights, wich makes the device a success among children. The Hubsan is particularly easy to control on windy scenarios, probably because of the small size.

Something that makes the Hubsan special is the fact that can be set to two different fly modes: Standard Mode and Expert Mode. The difference between the two is that in Expert Mode you can performer back and side flips, which can’t be done in Standard Mode. This feature is great for beginners as it prevents that you get too excited mid-flight and go reckless.

The assembling of the device is rather simple, however bear in mind that the four flips comes with an assigned position in the device (left, right, front and back) and must be assembled this way. Just pay close attention to the marks on the Hubsan and you’ll be fine.

An English version of the Hubsan X4 H107C User Manual can be found here.

The standard package includes:

  • New Hubsan X4 H107C RC quadcopter with camera
  • With 4 channels and USB cable design
  • 6-axis flight control system
  • 4-ways flip (left, right, forward, backward)
  • USB charging cable allows

 

Syma X5C 4 – Price: $60

Pros: Good design, decent camera and good battery life.

Cons: Is not so resistant to crashes as other more flexible drones.

Syma X5C 4

The Syma X5C 4 might not be the most powerful nor sophisticated, but is way more than a toy. It is considered the best option for beginners and a nice drone in the price range.

The body is considerable bigger than the Hubsan X4 H107C, which means is easier to see when flying, but is not much heavier (916g). Even when the Syma feels less “compact” that the Hubsan, it is much more durable that what it looks like.

The design of the device resemblance inevitably a Phantom I, but if you are learning or about to learn to fly, I believe you will prefered to learn with a Syma X5C 4 instead. The LED lights on the bottom of the device are a great plus if you are considering flying at nights and otherwise are a nice adiation on the design department anyway. The device can be used with or without the propeller’s guard.

Even when the Syma X5C 4 is marketed as a drone with a HD camera, the true is that HD might be an exaggeration. The camera is a 2.0 MP, by all means decent and one of the best (if not the best) you can get in the price range but as HD as 2.0 MP can be. The pictures are nice and clear, and the video recording is fairly good, but don’t hope to film a movie with the Syma.

The battery life is between 7 and 10 minutes, but it is highly recomendable to replace the battery shortly after 5 minutes if you are learning to fly, otherwise you will might lose control of the device and watch it go astray. The battery will take about 90 minutes to full charge when using a USB.

The flight experience is pretty good taking into account that this is a relatively small drone. However, the device is very remarkable stable when flying indoor or without wind. When flying outdoor with wind might get a little shaky, but can be controller if you have some experience already. So is recomendable to learn to fly indoor (careful) or outdoor in open spaces and not so high at first.

An English version of the Syma X5C 4 User Manual can be found here.

The standard package includes:

  • 1 x SYMA X5C Quadcopter
  • 1 x Transmitter
  • 1 x 3.7V 500mAh Li-poly Battery
  • 4 x Blades
  • 1 x SD Card
  • 1 x USB Charger

 

SeresRoad JJRC – Price: $65

Pros: Very good design.

Cons: User have reported malfunctions with the motors and the controller.

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The SeresRoad JJRC have a great design compared to other drones in the price range. It does not particularly imitate any other device, yet it has a nice design, LED lights and cool lines. I love the dark version. The device can be used with or without the propeller’s guard.

The camera is a 2.0. MP camera that can record video and take pictures at the same time. Even when is not really HD, the truth is that te quality is pretty much decent. However, the quality of image is a little lower than the quality showed by similar devices, like the Syma or the Hubsan. But note that the difference regarding the quality of the camera between the three devices is really small and is unlikely that you notice the difference if you don’t compare the footage of the three cameras side by side.

Battery life is about 10 minutes of fly, though is recommended to be replaced when reaching 8 to 9 minutes if you have little experience using the device.

The flight experience with the SeresRoad JJRC is pretty good even for beginners. The quadcopter is pretty stable and the controllers very intuitive.

Lately a fair amount of users have reported problems with the controllers dying in mid-flight and the motor burned after a few flights. For this reason this might not be a good options if you don’t have some basic knowledge about repairmen of drones, welding and such, at least until a new version of the device hit the market.

The standard package includes:

  • 1 x RC Quadcopter
  • 1 x Transmitter
  • 4 x Spare Blades
  • 1 x Charger
  • 1 x Screwdriver
  • 1 x 2GB TF Card
  • 1 x Card Reader
  • 1 x English User Manual

 

UDI U818A – Price: $55

Pros: Great design and flight experience indoor and on non windy environments. Great controller.

Cons: Hard to control when the wind is against you.

UDI U818A

Personally the UDI U818A’s design is my favorite from the under $100 price range. Its design is very solid and sleek. It has 6 LED light to help with the orientation when flying, especially at night. The device comes with non removable propeller’s guard, but the material is very flexible and light, so you won’t really feel a need to remove it.

The UDI U818A gets a few extra points because of the handy controller. The controller shows digital trim settings and a digital readout showing throttle setting, remote battery life left, trim settings, camera settings and it also has the 360 inversion button you can tap to make the quad do flips.

The UDI U818A comes with a 2.0 MP camera not very different from the one incorporated by similar devices, but gets extra points for adding a flash light to the front of the camera to get a better recording quality at dark.

The battery life is about 8 to 10 minutes and it takes up to two hours until fully charged.

The UDI U818A extremely easy to control in non windy scenarios, what makes the flight experience really enjoyable; however, is not so easy to fly when the wind is against us, specially if you have little or no experience. This is probably the most stable device in the beginners category and in the under $100 price range, but you might get frustrated about the fly experience if this is your first drone. The standard fly time is about 6 to 7 minutes.

The UDI 8U818A comes with two flying modes set on the controller: Standard Fly Mode and Extreme Fly Mode. Standard Fly Mode is used for a very stable, quite flying, perfect to fly indoor or to start learning, while Extreme Fly Mode is a little more “drastic”. The fly will feel a little more intense and turns will be stronger. Extreme Fly Mode helps you fight against the wind when needed, but is not recommended if you are not familiar with flying the device.

In my opinion this is a superior device in quality and performance in comparison with the other ones listed here; however, I wouldn’t recommended as a starter drone, but if you have flown other devices before then this would be a very good second drone. Like the UDI U818A, the device comes with non removable propeller’s guard, but the material is very flexible so you won’t really feel a need to remove it.

The standard package includes:

  • 1 x U818A RC Quadcopter
  • 1 x transmitter
  • 1 x battery

 

Blade BLH7600 Nano QX RTF – Price: $90

Pros: Quicker than other drones in the same price range.

Cons: More expensive than other similar drones and the camera is not very good in comparison with other similar drones in the same price range.

Blade BLH7600 Nano QX RTF

The design of the Blade BLH7600 Nano QX RTF is very simple, though the device feels solid and durable. It resembles a little to the Hubsan X4 but the Blade is even lighter. Regarding the design, it does not includes a lot of special features, but is a good option if you are just starting to learn.

The Blade BLH7600 Nano QX RTF Camera is not as good as the Hubsan camera, so if this is a priority feature for you, then you will be happier with a Hubsan.

The battery life is about 8 minutes and it takes 30 to 40 minutes until full charge, what makes it the quickest charging timeframe of the under $100 price range.

Blade BLH7600 Nano QX RTF is considerably quicker that the Hubsan X4, which might be what you are looking for if you have some fly experience, but not necessarily good if you are a beginner. That being said, the truth is that the Blade is a very durable device. The overall flight experience is good once you learn to control the drone, but it might feel a little chaotic if you are still learning. The Blade comes with two fly modes: Stability Mode suited to beginners and Agility Mode if you want to be able to perform some tricks on the air. However, even when set to Stability Mode, the drone is rather quick without loosing stability.

The standard package includes:

  • Blade BLH7600 Nano QX RTF
  • Yellow and green canopies with sharp Nano QX graphics
  • Assortment of extra rotor blades
  • MLP4DSM 4-channel DSMX transmitter with batteries
  • E-flite® 1S 3.7V 150mAh 25C Li-Po Battery
  • USB Li-Po battery charger

An English version of the Blade BLH7600 Nano QX RTF User Manual can be found here.

 

Extra Tips

Some extra tips applicable to all the devices mentioned above are the following:

  1. Buy extra batteries: The fly time of any of the above mentioned devices exceed 10 minutes, and believe me it will be very frustrating if you first flight last just that. So take my word as advice and order a set of extra batteries when you purchase the device.
  2. Always use the poppelers protectors when available if you are a beginner. Even then this drones are relatively cheap in comparison with the Phantom I or the DJI Inspire, I doubt you will be happy if you smash it after one flight.
  3. Remember that even if this feels like a toy, it is not. So be responsable when using it or you might cause an accident. Common sense is the best policy.

This are the best drones under $100 of 2015 so far, but we will keep an eye on the new devices that we will see in the rest of the year and this list will be updated accordingly. We might even have many more drones under $100 by the end of the year! If you have owned or tested some of the reviewed devices or would like to share your experience with any other, please feel free to do so in the comments below!

About Julio Lara

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