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Best Quadcopter Under $100 for Beginners in 2017
In my Humble Opinion...The Absolute Best Beginner Quad is the Hubsan X4 H107L
So its Your First Quadcopter...Choose Wisely!
Deciding on the best quadcopter for a beginner like yourself is the most important decision you will make when jumping into this exciting hobby. If you choose a flimsy or hard to fly quad for your first flyer, you may have a bad experience and shelve the hobby altogether. My hope is that I can inform you well enough so that your first quad purchase is a good one.
I have singled out three of the best quadcopter for beginners for your comparison: the Blade Nano QX, the Syma X1, and the Hubsan X4 H107L. These 3 choices have taken some hard knocks and have proven themselves in the proverbial RC trenches. Three key points should be considered, perhaps before price, when shopping for a quad. Read on below.
All three models recommended here have proven track records and are highly recommended by many RC quadcopter enthusiasts. Because of their small size and light weight, these micro quads are all able to withstand the abuse that novice pilots will put them through. They are also unlikely to cause any injury to themselves or their victims upon impact.
Get a Quad Built Like a Tank...Well Almost
I am big Blade fan and the Blade Nano QX is my 2nd pick.
#2 Ease of Flight & Setup
All three models can be set to either stability mode for the novice or agility mode as you make progress as a quadcopter pilot. They are also lots of fun to fly outdoors in low wind conditions. These models are also available in ready to fly (RTF) packages, meaning that everything you need to fly is included in the box.
#3 Availability of Information
Because of their popularity, there is a lot of good and bad information online for each of these three quads. This is a very important point to consider.
Instead of getting the latest untested models, it is a much better idea to purchase any one of these RC quadcopters and have the peace of mind that you’ll be able to find information on how to tweak your quad, fix it and bind it to other transmitters when you are ready to try more things.
Do your homework and study informational reviews and articles put out by reputable sources such as hobby shops and trusted forums such as RC Groups.
My Biggest Beef with Beginner Quads
A few words pertaining to all three RC quadcopters. Although I have identified them as the best quadcopter for beginners like yourself, they are toy grade quadcopters, and as with all toy grade products, quality is an issue. Don’t expect these three quadcopters to be long term investments.
No matter how carefully you fly your micro RC quad, expect around 5 hours of cumulative flight time (i.e. about 40 to 50 flights) before the motors burn out. Taken into perspective, it is not too bad for a first quad as you’d have clocked enough mileage to move on to bigger models by the time the motors start failing. It will take some soldering and electronics skills to replace the motors which are also easily available at low cost.
Propellers do fall off during crashes and it is easy to lose them so do buy extras. The set of spares that comes free with each RC quadcopter is likely not going to be enough. You will be buying more.
Finally, as you go up the price scale for RC quadcopters, you’ll find that the more expensive quads are actually easier to control than smaller quads as they have more advanced gyroscopes, accelerometers, compasses, and even GPS sensors built in.
I have deliberately excluded the larger models in this review as they are a risky investment for beginners due to size, weight, and cost. The bigger they are the harder they fall...and the more expensive the repair bill. The best quadcopter for beginners is still one which is light and offers a bit of a challenge to control. If you have a mind to get something like the Parrot AR Drone or DJI Phantom, I highly recommend that you train with one of the below-mentioned, low-priced, RC quadcopters before venturing into something larger and pricier.
Join the Club...Crash Happens!
Give me the Breakdown Already
Released in mid 2012, Syma X1 was an instant hit because of its low price point and superior performance. It has been very widely reviewed online and has garnered a lot of praise. As with many of the earlier RC quadcopter models, the Syma X1 depends on only a 3-axis gyroscope to maintain its stability, and in fact, it does so with surprising capability. The speed and responsiveness of the Syma X1 is fast enough for a beginner but you’ll soon realize that the relatively heavy 350mAh battery it lugs along is not doing the quad any favor. In my opinion, it is a very easy quadcopter to begin with but offers little challenge as you begin to get familiar with flying. Its popularity as the best quadcopter for beginners has since been overtaken by the Hubsan X4 H107L.
Hubsan X4 H107L
The Hubsan X4 H107L garners high marks for price and performance. It flies almost as well as the Blade Nano QX but is about half its price. As such, the Hubsan X4 H107L has been the best quadcopter for beginners since its release in early 2013 until now.
The Hubsan sports a beautifully designed rigid plastic frame. As with most hobby quadcopters, you differentiate the front and back while flying by the propeller colors. The front props are often white and the rear props are black. The Hubsan X4 H107L takes in data from its 6-axis gyro/accelerometer which makes it very stable to fly for its size. For a few bucks extra, propeller guards are also available for the Hubsan.
Blade Nano QX
Without regard for price, the Blade Nano QX, released in mid May 2013 has proven to be a staunch contender in its class. Compared to the Hubsan X4 H107L, it is slightly faster, more agile and stable. It also has a better designed frame. It is immediately noticeable that the engineers invested a great deal of thought in this area as the mainframe consists of a malleable, tough plastic which helps it bend instead of break in a crash. It also sports built in propeller guards to protect the propellers from also being destroyed in hard hits. Nevertheless, considering its price, you can buy a couple of the cheaper models which will guarantee you more flight time due to the lifespan of the motors.
In comparing the Syma X1, Hubsan X4 H107L and Blade Nano QX in terms how they handle in flight, the Syma takes the top spot in terms of ease of flying and the Blade has proven to be the hardest for beginners.
How is this possible when the Syma also happens to be the least stable? Well, that is because both the Blade and Hubsan are more responsive to user input and require a much lighter touch on the remote control than the Syma. Beginner RC quadcopter pilots must take a while to get used to the sensitivity of the controls before they can fly smoothly.
In terms of build quality, the Blade Nano QX really shines the brightest, number two would be the Hubsan X4 H107L, with the Syma X1 taking the third spot. That said, all three RC quadcopters are really durable due to their size and weight and will not be easily damaged by normal run-ins with obstacles.
As mentioned above, the motors will likely die before any serious frame damage is done. If you ever have to buy spare parts for your quad, all necessary parts are easily available online.
Hubsan X4 H107L
And the Winner Is....
All in, the most cost efficient quadcopter is still the Hubsan X4 H107L, available at about $35 from Amazon with free shipping in the US.
For any RC quadcopter enthusiast who wishes to train themselves to eventually control larger quads, the Hubsan X4 H107L is HANDS DOWN my best all around choice for a beginner.
Again when you choose your first quad...choose wisely and happy flying!
If you happen to be a more advanced flyer and want a fancier quadcopter, check the best out here.