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From travel drones to pro quadcopters, flying cameras have risen to new heights in the last few years.
Whether you’re a novice pilot or a dab hand at flying, several drones now offer features previously reserved for professional aerial equipment, including automated flight modes, 4K video recording and support for First Person View (FPV) goggles.
At the moment, the best outright drone you can buy is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. If you’re looking for a more budget flyer, the diminutive DJI Spark is a travel drone that can record in Full HD and can be found for under £400.
All done? Let’s get ready for take0ff…
What is the Drone X Pro?
Seriously. The DroneX Pro is a drone that’s designed to go wherever you go. It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand when the blades are folded in. This is probably one of my favorite features about this model. Have you ever tried to bring a big, bulky professional drone on a hike? Yeah. Not fun.
With the DroneX Pro, you can just pack it up in your car (or glove box, really) and head out to your next adventure.
Here’s another interesting thing about the DroneX Pro: it’s really easy to fly. It’s actually controlled through an app on your smartphone, so there’s no complicated remote that you have to use.
I like that the app allows you to instantly share your images with friends and family. With some other drones, you have to attach your own camera and then upload the footage to your PC before you can share. That can be a pain.
Using the controls on the app, the drone can perform the following moves:
There are also options to fly at high or low speeds, and a one-key landing makes it easy to bring your drone back home. I like the hover feature for taking clear photos. It’s great for landscape shots, but it’s also great for taking selfies or group photos.
The range is impressive, too. You can fly this drone up to 150 feet away.
The FPV image transmission allows you to see your flight as you move. The built-in 720p camera allows you to take clear photos and videos at great heights.
Here’s a rundown of the technical specs, so you can see what this drone has to offer:
Dimensions: 250mm x 250mm x 35mm
Charging Time: 70 minutes
Battery Life: 6-8 minutes
How Does the DroneX Pro Work?
If you’re like me, you’re wondering how the drone can be controlled by your smartphone. Yes, there’s an app. But how does the app interact with your drone.
Let me explain. Before you can use the drone, you’ll need to set it down on flat ground. Next, turn on your phone’s Wi-Fi, and connect to WiFi-720p-###. Once you’ve done that, you can open the app and tap “play” to enter the app and start flying.
The instruction manual explains how to use the controls. It’s a lot easier than you think, and you can actually see what your drone is seeing while it flies.
You’ll definitely need some practice flying if you’ve never used a drone before. Expect to crash a few times. But here’s the good news: the drone is pretty sturdy and durable. You might break a propeller every now and then, but those are easy and inexpensive to replace.
Unboxing the DroneX Pro Drone
One thing I do have to note is that the DroneX Pro drone is not ready to fly right out of the box. Before you take it out for its first flight, there are a few things that you’ll need to do.
First, you’ll need to charge the battery. That will take about 70 minutes.
Next, you’ll have to install the propellers. Don’t worry, a detailed instruction manual (which you can also see here) is provided that shows you how to do this. They even include a screwdriver to install the propellers, so you don’t need any tools of your own.
Before you take your drone out for the first time, I recommend reading the FAA’s regulations on drones to make sure that you can fly it legally where you are.
My DroneX Pro Drone Review
I love the DroneX Pro. It’s compact. It takes good photos. It’s easy to control. I also like that I can use my phone to control the drone. That means I don’t have to carry around any extra equipment. I can literally put the drone in my pocket and go.
The makers of the DroneX Pro drone also have great customer support that can be reached through email or phone. There’s a handy FAQs page that can help troubleshoot some problems.
I do have one small issue with this drone: it has a ridiculously short flight time. The battery only lasts 6-8 minutes, so you better have your shot lined up before you take off. And you can’t explore as much as you can with other drones. The camera runs off of a lithium battery, so you can bring extras if you want to extend your flight. But you’ll need quite a few extras if you want a decent flight.
That being said, this is a pocket-sized drone, so you can’t really expect to be able to fly around for 10-20 minutes like with bigger models.
While there are plenty of cheap mini-drones on the market from no-name brands, the Parrot moniker generally means you’re getting a quality device – and that’s very much the case with the Mambo.
A tiny, lightweight flyer, the Parrot Mambo is much more than your standard mini-drone. While it’s great for indoor fun, it will also happily fly outdoors – provided it’s not too breezy.
Adding to the entertainment value are two bundled accessories: a grabber claw and a pellet-firing cannon.
Although the grabber is only good for a load of 4g, you can still do plenty with it – from picking up balls of paper to air-dropping Lego bricks – while the cannon’s pellets, though easy to lose, are definitely fun to fire.
Flight can be controlled via a smartphone or an optional remote control. The app’s virtual sticks are generally responsive, while the Mambo’s 3-axis gyroscope, accelerometers and downward-facing ultrasound sensor do a good job of keeping things stable.
A top speed of 5 metres per second is plenty given the 20m Bluetooth range when paired with a smartphone, while pre-programmed aerial tricks (such as barrel rolls and flips) only make the Mambo more appealing.
Its 9-minute battery life is relatively short, but a full recharge time of just 30 minutes means you won’t be out of the sky for too long.
As for footage, the 0.3-megapixel camera is nothing to write home about. It’s noisy and blurry, while colours are underwhelming – but at this price you’d struggle to do better.
If you’re after a starter drone that will do more than simply zip around the living room, the Parrot Mambo is a stellar choice. It might not be a photographer’s dream, but its accessibility – not to mention the included accessories – make it a great entry-level drone.
Best drones buying guide – four things to look out for
1) Battery life
Battery life is a big consideration when buying a drone. A good battery life for most ‘travel drones’, which can fit into a small backpack, is around 30 minutes. Once you’ve factored in taking off and landing, this can leave a relatively short filming time.
If you’re likely to need longer than this and the drone doesn’t support direct USB-C charging, you should consider buying a bundle with spare batteries (DJI calls these ‘Fly More’ bundles). Longevity can often also be extended by reducing the video quality. If you don’t need to capture footage in 4K, switch down to 1080p for a longer flight.
2) Smart flight modes
Many drones ship with automated flight modes that take it through pre-programmed ‘set piece’ manoeuvres for cinematic shots. These include performing corkscrews in mid-air to circling a chosen subject to capture footage worthy of an epic closing scene.
If you’re not a very experienced pilot – or aren’t particularly interested in boosting your flying skills – then these are often a very useful feature to have. If you’re more keen of flying than filming, though, then a more budget model without these flight modes might be more suitable.
3) Range and controllers
Most drones will be able to handle flying around your local park, but if you’re looking to send it further afield then it’s worth considering the transmission range. Drones wth dedicated controllers (like DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro) tend to offer longer ranges than those controlled by smartphone.
It’s also much easier to control a drone using a controller than virtual sticks on a touchscreen. Depending on your location’s drone laws, though, a maximum range is often only theoretical – for example, in the UK it’s necessary to always keep your drone in line of sight.
4) Stability in the air
Small drones might be super for indoor and low-level outdoor flying, but if you’re planning to pilot your drone in more difficult weather conditions it’s worth considering how well your flying machine will fare. Petite drones are generally more affected by crosswinds than larger quadcopters, though advanced stabilisation tech can sometimes reduce the effects of a strong breeze.
It’s also worth reviewing sample footage of the drones in-flight where possible. Some can suffer from camera shake when flying at top speed, because of vibrations from the rotors – although better models usually use stabilisation smarts to alleviate this.
Did I mention that right now, there’s a 50% discount? Plus, you get:
100% money-back guarantee
You have nothing to lose by giving this drone a try. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work properly, you can send it back for a refund. In my opinion, offering a money-back guarantee shows that the company is confident in its product.
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