What Makes a High End Quadcopter – Besides the Price?
Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Not all of us have the funds set aside for high end quadcopters, but if you do, you have several options from which you can choose.
Some of the first quadcopters that should come to mind (in 2016) are the DJI Inspire 1, the Swellpro Splash, and the Cheerson CX-22 Follower. There are more that could arguably be considered high end as well, and I’ll mention them later on.
High end quadcopters, by definition, are going to cost more that the average. Those mentioned above already generally run between $900 and $5000. (Prices may have changed by the time you read this.)
But there’s more to being high end than just the price. The other obvious feature that you’d want in such a machine is high quality construction and materials.
Before you’d buy a quadcopter like any of these, you probably got some experience flying a less expensive model. But even as an experienced pilot, things can go wrong, crashes can happen – sometimes through no fault of your own – and parts can break. You would hope that a higher quality machine would be able to handle these situations better than others and come out of them either unscathed or with minimal damage.
As far as I can tell, the parts that make up the models mentioned here are of this higher quality that you seek. There may be exceptions, even from machine to machine of the same model, and there’s always a weakest link in the chain, but you should generally be satisfied with what you paid for in these high end vehicles.
What Do You Get in the Top of the Line DJI Quadcopter?
The somewhat nasty and mean looking DJI 1 is a quadcopter I would consider top of the line amongst machines that could still be called hobby vehicles. It’s sort of borderline between hobby and truly professional, though I’m sure many professionals use it in (the film making) business as well. In fact, DJI promotes the Inspire as a film making quadcopter.
It comes with a 4K camera, give 360-degree camera rotation, and produces 12 megapixel photos. The camera gives a 94-degree field of view. You can fly for about 18 minutes per charge in temperatures ranging from -10-degree C (14 F.) to 40-degrees C (104 F.).
The Inspire 1 weighs just under 3Kg (2935 g) and measures 438mm by 451mm by 301mm. It can ascend at a maximum of 5 meters per second and descend at 4 meters per second.
When it’s FCC compliant, you can fly it a distance of 5 km (3.1 miles) away from its remote control without obstruction, of course.
The standard battery is a 4500 mAh LiPo 6S that weighs 570 grams.
The DJI Go app is compatible with many iOS (8.0 or later) and Android 4.1.2 or later) devices. It provides a practice mode which is great for even the more seasoned pilots, since you can get used to any quirks or differences compared to other quadcopters you may be used to flying.
Need to Fly in the Rain? Check Out the Swellpro Splash
Available in bright orange or white, the Swellpro Splash Drone is able to fly in the rain and amphibiously because it’s completely waterproof! You can thus fly above bodies of water without the fear of losing your quadcopter to that element.
Its gimbal can hold a GoPro camera (Hero 3, 3+, 4, or Zero) for in-flight picture taking and video.
The Splash can also carry and release objects, such as a life preserver, that weigh up to 1 kilogram.
The Splash is capable of way-point and mission planning flight, has a follow me mode, and can circle 360-degrees around a specified target.
I’m not sure what its dimensions are but it does weigh less than the Inspire, coming in at 2300 grams. Many of its other specifications are similar to the DJI machine.
What Do You Get in the Cheerson CX-22 Follower?
The Cheerson Follower features dual GPS systems for greater accuracy of positioning. It also has a follow me mode and mission planner capabilities.
You can use its 1080p camera for, reportedly, approximately 30 minutes of flight. If accurate, that’s a significant increase over other models in total possible flight time.
That amount of time is a little suspect since reports also state that it weighs nearly 5 Kg.
If you own any of the above and have information contrary to what I’ve stated here, please let me know so that I can correct or adjust this data.
What Other Quadcopters Are at the High End?
There are a few other quadcopters that should be included at or near the high end due to their popularity and features.
One of them is the DJI Phantom 3. While not quite as robust as the Inspire, the Professional version is an awesome machine. Like the Inspire, it features a 4K camera for wonderful video.
You get about 23 minutes of flight time and all the other bells and whistles you’d expect with a craft of this type.
The Walkera Voyager 3 certainly fits the bill in this category. You can get up to 25 minutes of flight on its 3000 mAh battery.
The Voyager 3 weighs a little over 26 pounds and comes with a 1080p camera to be mounted on its 360-degree gimbal.
One feature of note is that its landing gear is retractable, making for better, less-obstructed video.
The 3DR (3DRobotics) Solo looks like the dark knight of the quadcopter world. You can get just the drone alone or in a camera gimbal bundle.
The Solo’s controller features an HDMI port so you can connect it to virtually any video screen. It boasts a game style layout, so if you’re used to playing video games, you should be acquainted with this controller too.
The Solo itself is quite lightweight, coming in at just over 10 pounds. It has a feature that 3DR calls Cable Cam. You lock the drone to a virtual cable in the air so you are free to move the camera without worrying about flying.
Any of the above machines should be able to produce the results you want and expect from a high end quadcopter, and others are in the market that I haven’t mentioned here. The final decision as to which one is for you will probably depend on small differences in the quadcopters themselves and on your unique situation.