2018 is a Drone Bargain Hunters Paradise!
Droneflyers.com is now over 5 years old. It seems like just yesterday when this site started due to my interest in the new “flying robots” which seemed to be finally hitting the mainstream. Companies like Parrot and Walkera can be credited for developing some of the first RTF (ready to fly) quadcopters, although whether they were truly “ready to fly” is another story! As a point of trivia, this site was started a year before that time (beginning of 2012) by Kerry Garrison, who now owns a large Drone retail company. He sold his existing site (ARDRONETIPS.COM) to us – which was rolled into Droneflyers.com.
The market for Drones sped up quickly and they started selling like the proverbial hotcakes. The reader should keep in mind that most of these drones didn’t work very well. There was no true “Camera Drone” available at consumer prices, so hobbyists at the time were trying everything – from strapping GoPro cameras to their AR Drones to building their own drones (which, more often than not, crashed early and often). Toy Grade machines dominated the consumer market (Hubsan, Walkera, Syma) because a hobbyist would tolerate losing $40-$100 in a crash whereas losing $1K plus wasn’t in the cards. This all changed with the release of two “watershed” models that introduced a level of reliability and capabilities that were formerly unheard of. A third release solidified the consumer drone market into a multi-billion dollar business. These stepping stones, in our opinion, were:
1. The Phantom (1) – introduced a truly mass-produced GPS equipped (the key to success!) RTF drone – which could carry a GoPro or other lightweight camera.
2. The Phantom 2 Vision Plus (V2) was arguably the first reliable RTF drone which was complete with camera, gimbal, smart battery and software which allowed the pilot to control the camera functions.
3. The Phantom 3 (2015) perfected the “consumer camera class” of drones with a 4K camera, longer range and improved software. In a sense, the Phantom 3 is similar to the Boeing 737 in that, even years later, it is not dated in terms of functionality.
If you want to delve further into the history of the manufacturer of these models (DJI), check out these articles:
The Present…and the Bargains!
After years of tremendous growth, the consumer drone market is slowing. Many of the original hobbyists have purchased newer models and are therefore not looking for the “next new thing” as they were during the boom years. In addition, companies like DJI, Yuneec and Parrot built up both their hopes and production – creating a surplus of drones which can be a Gold Mine for both hobbyists and those looking for a new consumer-level drone. Add to this the very reasonable prices of some NEW drone models and it completes the “special sauce” which 2018 is serving up.
Example One: New Drone RTF Bargain – DJI produced a compact model called the Spark which has capabilities that should satisfy many drone users. A complete kit, which was $699 when introduced a short time ago, is now down to $466. on Amazon:
Example Two: Parrot New and Refurbs – Parrot missed out on a lot of the growth in the consumer drone market by focusing on their toy models…and not listening to consumers when it came to their higher-end camera drones. As a result they found themselves having to lay off a vast number of drone employees..and with quite a bit of stock of older models. Most of their current models can also be found at 1/2 or less of the original prices – BeBop 2, for example, as well as toy grade models. Older models are as low as 75% or more off their original prices! Techrabbit (via eBay) sells a refurished AR Drone for $49.99 – this is 90% off the original price – https://goo.gl/tMei6B
NOTE: Examples given are just that – examples – there are a mutitude of great deals at present but the buyer should know exactly what they are buying. Many of these bargains are suitable only for hobbyists…defined as those who may want to hack, modify or experiment with their drones. Others are fine for even the newbie drone pilot…but, again, please research the model(s) you are looking at and make certain your requirements are met.
Below are additional examples (links) to low priced models which might suit your fancy.
Parrot Swing Refurb – $21.99:
Parrot Bebop (1) NEW – $159 (was $499 originally):
Yuneec Breeze – NEW $149. (introduced at about $500):
Yuneec Typhoon H with RealSense $1149 (first introduced at $1899-$1999):
DJI Spark $337 – New (introduced recently at $499):
Occassional Drone Bargains can also be found at:
DJI maintains their own Refub page (DJI refurbs are also on eBay and Amazon at various times:
Drone makers are going to have to come up with some tricks to make consumers flock to their new models. In the meanwhile, they are lowering prices and offering more for less in order to make room on the shelves for whatever might come next. The consumer is now in the drivers seat and it looks to stay that way for 2018. Happy Hunting!