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The 9 Distinctive Drones of 2016

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While the most notable—best—drones of 2016 have been covered in this B&H Explora article, it is time to look at the most distinctive models of the year. These drones broke out of the usual mold we’ve become accustomed to as the market began skyrocketing in popularity a few years ago.

1. Power Vision Power Egg

No, you didn’t just discover a dinosaur egg. What hatches from this seamless-looking egg shape is a drone—equipped with a 4K, gimbal-stabilized camera. The Power Vision PowerEgg’s wings unfold to reveal four propellers, giving it an insect-like appearance when it takes flight. It may not have the most acronymic of profiles, but it can still achieve a top speed of around 42 feet per second. The camera and gimbal are discreetly tucked away at the bottom.

Power Vision PowerEgg Drone

 2. Xcraft X PlusOne

The Xcraft X PlusOne will keep you guessing about just what it is. It has four propellers and takes off and lands in a VTOL—that’s vertical—fashion. But once aloft, it flips 90-degrees into a horizontal orientation, a V-shaped wing providing lift. The idea here is to give you the best of both worlds. Take off and land nearly anywhere, but get the speed advantage of a fixed-wing plane, where the motor energy goes entirely into pulling the aircraft forward rather than directly generating lift. Pedal to the metal, the X PlusOne tops out at around 60 mph, beating all but the fastest racing quads—though time will tell if gets a foot in the door of quadcopter races, since it is a bit of a cheater.

Xcraft X PlusOne Platinum

3. Parrot Minidrone Swing

It occurs to me the X PlusOne isn’t the only hybrid flyer. The Parrot Minidrone Swing similarly features a dual identity. Unlike the X PlusOne, the Swing features an X-wing pattern. It can achieve a top speed of up to 19 mph in plane mode. Though not the fastest hybrid out there, it is highly maneuverable, able to perform flips, loops, and rolls—a good choice for those looking for a fun drone.

Parrot Minidrone Swing with Flypad Controller

 

4. HobbyZone Rezo

Who doesn’t like a surprise? When you order the HobbyZone Rezo Quadcopter you will be surprised... with one of four colors: blue, orange, red or yellow! Otherwise, the Rezo is a pretty standard miniature quadcopter, well under the 0.55 lb FAA limit requiring registration. It comes in a ready-to-fly bundle with props, prop guards, battery, USB charger, and sundries included.

HobbyZone Rezo RTF Quadcopter with Built-In Camera

5. Parrot NEWZ Hydrofoil Minidrone

It’s a boat! It’s a plane! It’s both! The Parrot NEWZ Hydrofoil Minidrone isn’t just a drone that takes off and lands in the water, it can swim. Though more boat-like in appearance, it is quite dexterous in the air. Like many other Parrot Minidrones, it can do 360s and other aerobatics with just a swipe or a click on your smartphone. In the air, it achieves a top speed of 11 mph, or 9.55874 knots.

Parrot NEWZ Hydrofoil Minidrone

6. XTIM Bionic Bird Drone

This bird really does flap its wings to fly. The XTIM Bionic Bird Drone can fly at speeds of up to 12 mph and, like so many aerial products these days, is operated by a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device. An included “egg” provides a resting platform that the bird can incubate while replenishing its battery. The egg charging station holds enough power for up to a dozen flights.

XTIM Bionic Bird Drone

7. Parrot Disco FPV

What sets the Parrot Disco FPV apart is that it is a plane in an age of multi-rotors. This, of course, means you don’t get vertical takeoff and landing, but you do get considerably longer flight times—up to 45 minutes. Equipped with a 1080p electronically stabilized camera, you will be able to get distinctive soaring shots. To fully enjoy the experience, this FPV bundle features a VR headset adapter for your smartphone—the Cockpitglasses—to really put you in the pilot’s seat. Since your phone will be tied up in the headset, a video-game-style controller is included.

Parrot Disco FPV

8. Hubsan H501S X4

All that glitters is not gold. But if it is in the air, it could be a Hubsan H501S X4 with gold trim and gold propellers. The posh detail work aside, this is a fairly typical FPV quad. The included transmitter features a 4.3" screen for monitoring and, internally, the camera can record 1080p video.

HUBSAN H501S X4 FPV Quadcopter with 1080p Camera

9. Parrot Minidrone Mambo with Cannon and Grabber

The Parrot Minidrone Mambo is a drone that does stuff. It features a modular accessory system for various attachments. This particular bundle includes the Cannon and Grabber accessories. Both do more or less what you’d expect. The Cannon is a rubber ball launcher with a horizontal range of 6.5' and can fire at a rate of one shot per 1.5 seconds. The Grabber allows you to pick up very light objects and release them on command. Pets and small children need not be afraid, because the Grabber’s payload capacity is limited to 0.15 ounces.

Parrot Minidrone Mambo with Cannon and Grabber Accessories

Looking Forward

There you have it. These may not be the “best” drones to come out over the last year, but they are among the most noteworthy. Indeed, 2016 was really the year when we started to see some real out-of-the-box thinking, beyond the basic—and frankly boring—quadcopter/multi-rotor with camera attached. The way things are evolving, we will have even more exciting new designs to look forward to this year. To what are you looking forward? Tell us below, in the Comments section.

To read more about the full line of drones available at B&H, click here.

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