Which drones make the best toys?
Coming out of CES 2015, three drones caught reviews' eyes. What makes the Hubsan Nano Q4, EHang Ghost, and DJI Inspire 1 special?
This year's Consumer Electronics Show presented a spectrum of drones designed for everyday people. Whether you're looking for a quick zip of fun or a higher-end “prosumer” drone, here is a sampling of the most exciting, innovative, and future-looking unmanned flying vehicles.
Hubsan Nano Q4
Said to be the world’s smallest remote-control quadcopter, the $80 Habsan Nano Q4 is aimed at hobbyists looking for the latest tech gadget to tinker with. Unlike many of the drones on the consumer market, the Nano Q4 lacks a camera. The battery can handle five minutes of flight time and charges quickly via a computer’s USB port. Reviewers say its miniature remote control is very sensitive because of the quadcopter’s small size, and it sometimes requires tinkering to make the Nano Q4 fly upward in a straight line.
The crowd-funded EHang Ghost raised more than $760,000 from backers, compared to its goal of $100,000. The Ghost uses a detachable GoPro for video-recording, making its auto-follow feature especially attractive to people involved with action sports. Using a smart phone app, skateboarders and snowboarders can set the Ghost to follow and record their adventures – provided they don’t exceed the Ghost’s 20-minute flight time. It also has a “tilt mode” that allows users to control the drone by tilting their smart phone. Backers pre-ordered the Ghost on Indigogo for $900 to $1000.
At the “prosumer” end of the market is DJI’s Inspire 1. Video cameras today often have 720p or 1080p resolution, but the Inspire 1 boasts a 4K camera with the ability to rotate 360 degrees. The Inspire 1 can be flown via the controller packaged with the drone, or by using its comprehensive mobile app. Reviewers report the Inspire 1 is easy to operate, has impressive stability even in rough wind conditions, and offers 18 minutes of flight time. Less easy to maneuver is the 360-degree rotatable camera while flying at the same time, but there is an option to fly the drone with the camera locked at one angle. The Inspire 1 starts at $2,900.