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Looking for a drone for Christmas and looking to spend between $100 and $200? The drones on the market this year are better than ever — and they keep getting cheaper.
UDI RC has a solid lineup of drones that let you see what the drone sees through your smartphone or tablet while recording video. I tested out the UDI Blue Jay and the WiFi FPV drone with VR headset, and here’s how they stack up:
U45 Blue Jay WiFi FPV drone
The Blue Jay drone costs $129.99 and is incredibly light and easy to fly. You charge the drone’s battery via USB, insert your own AA batteries into the controller, and download the UDI app for smartphone. You also have to screw on the legs and propeller guards, but it’s very minimal assembly.
The drone has an altitude hold function, which makes it very easy to fly at first try (and gather some decent footage). There’s also a takeoff and landing button, so the drone will automatically hover at a preset altitude after you press the takeoff button.
As far as video quality, the Blue Jay captures 720p high definition photos and videos with a 2MP camera. While it IS “high definition” (this is a criteria many people have when asking me for drone recommendations), keep in mind it is often the megapixels that matter. I’ll let you be the judge — check out my YouTube video! — on whether that is sufficient quality. For context, the significantly more expensive, $450 Phantom 3 Standard shoots 12 megapixel video.
The video records to your phone and a micro SD card, which comes with the drone.
It also can do flips, which is a pretty fun party trick. The drone’s battery life is only about 8 minutes so hopefully your party doesn’t last too long — but the really great thing is it comes with 2 batteries (nice touch!) and a portable USB charging bank, so technically you have more flight time than just the 8 minutes.
I absolutely loved playing with the Blue Jay, and for $129 it’s a perfect gift for someone getting into drones!
U818A Wifi FPV Drone
The U818A Wifi FPV drone is the slightly more advanced version of the Blue Jay.
In many ways, it is quite similar. It has all the features I love about the Blue Jay, including the altitude hold, FPV view through the smartphone app, and an extra battery and power bank.
It also shoots the same video quality — 720p high definition photos and videos with a 2MP camera.
You don’t have to screw on any prop guards or legs with this one — the drone already comes with them built in. Other than that, both drones really fly the same.
The main difference with this drone is that it comes with a VR headset, so you can fly like you have FPV goggles on — like the drone racers do.
It was pretty nifty, and a cool experience for people who wouldn’t have the opportunity to try the “real deal” that drone racers use such as Fatshark goggles. However, I felt like the VR headset was cheap — it’s basically goggles with a mount for your iPhone — and thus a little difficult to see clearly and use. I gave up pretty quickly and reverted to flying line of sight with the drone, while referencing my smartphone to occasionally see what the drone’s camera sees.
Both drones have the ability to fly in headless mode (basically a flight mode where you don’t have to worry about which way the drone is facing in order to maneuver the direction of it). While I don’t condone headless mode as a means of learning how to be a better drone operator, it is very handy to shoot selfie videos — I used it myself when shooting this YouTube video.
The main difference between the two drones is the VR Headset. If you have an interest in getting into FPV drone racing, it would be worth paying the extra $30 for the U818 and getting the more expensive drone with goggles. However, if you are looking for a cool party trick and some basic aerial images, I would save the $30 and get the Blue Jay, since the FPV goggles felt cheap.
But on that note, this drone is low cost, but an incredible value for what you get. The FPV goggles were the only item that felt a little cheap, and the rest of the drone was truly fantastic for just about $150.
The main factor to consider when investing in one of these two drones is they won’t be of the video quality you can expect to get from a significantly more expensive drone — hence why they are so much more expensive! But as far as the experience of drone flying goes, both of the UDI drones were incredible easy to setup, use, light, portable and fun. Happy flying!
UDI has partnered up with me to do a FREE DRONE GIVEAWAY! To win one of these two drones, simply subscribe to my YouTube channel and comment on my UDI Video with your favorite place to fly a drone. You must have set your YouTube settings to allow users to contact you via YouTube. I will randomly select the winner on Friday, 12/2 at 9 a.m. PT. The winner will have 72 hours to respond before another winner is contacted.