Thursday, December 29, 2016


Eons ago I strolled through the mall and stopped by Sharper Image - my favorite gizmo store at the time. One of the sales representatives was demonstrating a drone. Big by comparison, the drone (not the sales reps) body was made from Styrofoam and a camera displayed video on a smart phone. Excellent idea, but $200 plus at the time was not justifiable. Fast forward a couple of eons - the end of 2016, the curiosity peeked again.  

One of the latest hypes, besides AI and robotics, are the drones. I suppose, fueled by the high volume delivery companies or fulfillment houses experimenting with the use of delivery drones, the private sector has a choice of their own drones. With the vast availability of drones one thing is for certain, there will be increasing traffic soon in the upper areas of the highways. Of course, all of this has and will be heavily regulated. Licenses for the use of drones for commercial use (for example real estate pictures) are required.  Other regulations in regards of area of use are in place already. Most of the regulations are still in flux since this is relatively new. 

After weeks of comparing drones of all sizes and features, I finally decided on the DJI Phantom 4.  The initial sticker shock, when I started my research and popped in the Best Buy store went way side after I started to compare the emerging market of the drones. 

The attractive price range yielded mostly poor performances in terms of flying time.  Believe me, when I write time flies if you are flying a drone. Important considerations are battery life and the consequent recharge time, portability and capability of the drone itself.  Beyond the standard features, it is simply amazing what drones can do. Bottom line is you get what you pay for.  If you invest in a quality product you will enjoy better quality, performance, reliability, features, and above all all, tech support, if necessary.

Also there are some other important factors to consider after the purchase of a drone. One is the learning curve of operating a drone. It requires some good hand and eye coordination. After all, there are a number of buttons to use and dials to be moved besides the two joy sticks which control the up, down, left and right positioning. Granted, if you are a gamer this should be a piece of cake. Then there is the registration with the FAA - another $24.99 for personal use and $49.99 for business use to add to the original cost.

Well, I'm not a gamer but I can tie my shoes and walk while chewing gum, which means that after some practicing, as well as flying time, I will get the hang of it. Not that I am joining a fast-pacing racing league tomorrow, I will leave that for other enthusiasts. 

I am also not one to read extensive manuals, or hardly ever; however, this time I did.  There are one thousand reasons to do so. The manual is not only for information of the handling of the drone, but also alerts you to the fact that there are official regulations and restrictions for operating a drone. I would not go as far as getting a live instructor.  If you are somewhat coordinated and patient it should not be too hard to master flying a drone.

After some experimenting and testing "challenging" flight paths in the backyard, I slowly but surely get use to the joy sticks while looking at the drone, as well as just looking at the screen (you are not supposed to let the drone get out of sight - but but but). In any event, it is very entertaining.

I should let the reader know that this review is my personal opinion, experience and choice.  It is not meant to be a comparison of available drones. Other people get paid, or otherwise volunteer to perform the in depth research of technical features, facts etc etc.

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