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What Features Can We Expect On Low-Budget (Toy Grade) Drones For 2016?

BY Alan Perlman
12 February 2016

The below is a guest post by Júlio Ventura, main writer at DronesGlobe. If you are a drone enthusiast on a short budget you will be happy to know 2016 promises to be a great year for the Toy Grade drone industry! Follow us as we take a deeper look into the low-budget drone market.

toy grade drones

As the drone industry develops and companies compete for both technology and price, the product with better features and specifications at the lowest cost possible, wins. Therefore, companies seek to constantly refresh the market with new and more advanced drones. If we take a deeper look into the chronology of drone development (regarding low-budget Toy Grade drones only) we can already notice this improvement.

Back in 2013/2014, the consumer started to see the first affordable Toy Grade drones being released into the market. Products such as the Syma X5C, JJRC H8C, WLToys V212 and V262. Became widely popular. They were the first consumer cheap drone generation. Apart from, the now common, 360º eversion and in some cases, a standard low quality camera, none of them had any special features.

Thereafter, we started to see Headless Mode being gradually introduced on low-budget drones. Between mid-late 2014 WLToys released the V636 and V333, both with Headless Mode. JJRC joined the competition by releasing an upgraded version of the H5C featuring this mode also. Cheerson also upgraded its mini quad the CX-10 with this feature (the CX-10A). Something Syma would only be able to achieve in early 2015 by releasing X5SC (upgraded version of X5C). During 2014 and throughout 2015, the drone market, saw One-Key Return feature become more common among low-budget quadcopters such as the WLtoys V686G and JJRC H5, H8, and H12 series. However, beware, a few drones advertising One-Key Return, have in fact, Automatic Flyback, meaning the drone will not return to place of take-off but will instead fly backwards.

2015 was a big growth of drones featuring these previously mentioned functions, with more and more products hitting the market. But 2015 is long gone and drone enthusiasts are thriving for better technology. So let’s have a look at what we might expect during 2016 for the Toy Grade drones community:

Altitude Holder

Latest drones released in the market have started to include Altitude Hold function. A very useful feature for both photography and videography. Allowing pilot to focus on the camera while the drone hovers steadily in air by itself. This feature can already be found in some recent products, such as the Pioneer JDX 509V and 509G, the Q222G from WLToys (upgraded version of V686G with a barometer to allow Altitude Hold) and of course one of Cheerson’s most recent products the CX-33S. So for all the drone enthusiasts which love filming but are on a short budget, be ready, 2016 promises to be a year with useful features and better cameras.

Low-battery Safe Mode / Protection

One of beginner’s main concern “if battery runs out, will I have time to bring it to me?”. Losing a drone is always hurtful. You are so deeply concentrated in having fun with your aircraft, you forget it has a battery. Some drones will emit a beeping sound, others will just flash their lights. This is when Low-battery Safe Mode comes in handy. To avoid losing track of the drone, when the battery drops below a certain level, the drone will automatically return to land, in some cases to where it previously began flight.

More One Key Take-off and Landing

We have already seen some Toy Graded drones featuring this function, however, in lower-budget drones it is not common. During last quarter of 2015 some low-budget products with One Key Take Off and Land, were introduced into the market such as the Cheerson CX-32 and CX-33 series. It is yet a feature more common in higher-budget Toy Graded drones. Hopefully in 2016 we will see an increase of low-budget quadcopters with this feature.

More FPV and 3-axis Stabilized Good Quality Cameras

Nowadays, one of the main features people look for in a drone is real time video transmission. The idea of watching live video recorded from your drone’s camera amazes many enthusiasts and casual flyers. It is one of the biggest accomplishments of this drone era, your eyes can now reach places they could not reach before. Although, FPV was one of the first features to be introduced in consumer drones (remember Hubsan X4 H107D?). The amount of affordable drones with FPV flight have been growing in the market. FPV is also getting better, less transmission delay (in some cases almost none), less ‘jello’ effect. Some manufacturers have produced cheap ready-to-fly FPV drones by using Android and iOS applications as a monitor through WiFi transmission instead of 5.8 GHz or 2.4 Ghz. Sometimes these apps have dual function of both monitor and transmitter. As the love for aerial photography and videography grows, drones have also started to include 3-axis Stabilized Gimbals. Such, allows pilots to tilt the camera in different angles through buttons on their transmitter, providing more points of view. Some recently released, low-budget FPV drones already featuring good FPV are Pioneer JDX 509G, Cheerson’s mini quadcopter the CX10W, JJRC has been very active in the market releasing JJRC H20W (also a mini quad), H29G, H25 series, H26D (no FPV but has 3-axis Gimbal with 3MP camera), Skytech TK107W, LiDi RC L6F (one of the first toy hexacopters low-budget with FPV).

Brushless Motors

Two types of motors are used in commercial drones, brushed and brushless. While most low-budget drones use brush, the brushless motors provide an increase in both power and efficiency. They also last longer due to not having brushes to wear out. Since the cost for producing brushless motors is higher, it is not common to see them on Toy Grade drones. However, this is starting to change with JJRC recently releasing X1, its first quadcopter featuring brushless motors. Currently the only one in the market. We hope to see more companies’ using this type of motor, in their products, throughout 2016.

As we can see the industry is quickly developing. Features which were only available in higher price drones, are gradually being adopted into cheaper models. Drones no longer are an expensive hobby. Anyone can acquire one of these fun sky ‘beasts’ and enjoy a flight which was only possible in Sci-Fi movies. What about you? What are your drone enthusiast expectations for 2016? Is there a feature you would love to see in a Toy Grade drone but which is not yet possible? Leave a comment below and tell us!

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