The Lily drone has had a rough go — and things haven’t gotten better since its release.
It’s a nice little drone with a decent camera that’s extremely easy to fly and set up. But the big problem? At $699, the Lily drone is 5x more expensive than what it should be.
A brief history of Lily Drone:
For the uninitiated, Lily launched to much fanfare in 2015 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, raising $34 million in pre-orders. The promo video showed a sleek drone that took off when thrown in the air and could navigate around objects — something no drones were able to do at the time.
The Wall Street Journal put Lily on its list of products “that will change your life,” and the drone’s cofounders were named in Fortune’s 30 Under 30.
(Drone Girl has a policy against reporting on Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns because there is little to no guarantee the drones will come to production in the form they were promised.)
Of course, Lily was a textbook example of that.
After a series of delays and hundreds of angry customers, Lily’s creators eventually admitted they couldn’t finance production and said they would give refunds to backers.
The drone embodies the spirit of a Jedi using the Force — you don a controller on your wrist, and control it entirely with the movement of your hands.
There’s no RC transmitter or phone app involved, so the control of the drone entirely is up to the way you wave your hand. Tilt your hand up, and the drone flies higher. Tilt your palm toward your body, and the drone comes to the ground. A certain flick of your wrist will also make the drone flip.
Trackimo has been making 3G GPS tracker devices for years — to give to kids or elderly relatives who might get lost, or to add to cars. But the company recently developed one specifically designed for drones.
The Aerix drone racing kit is the complete package for getting into indoor drone racing. It’s called the Nano FPV Indoor Drone Racing Package, and for $245 (* currently on sale for $195!) offers everything you need to get started drone racing, including the controller, goggles, and even light-up archways to fly through.
Looking for a drone that costs less than $200? The market is saturated with cheap, toy drones, and it can be tough to filter out which is the best.
Toy drones under $200 are great for a variety of purposes, including introducing kids to drone flying and practicing on yourself before you fly a more expensive drone (you really don’t want to mix up your left and and your right and accidentally fly your new DJI Mavic into a pool).
Note that while all of these drones technically can take videos, the video quality is pretty low — think about the same quality as the camera on your Razr phone back in year 2004. But, for such a low price and ease of use, these drones are a great gateway into the world of drone flying.
All of these drones are also “FPV” drones, meaning they offer a smartphone app you can connect your drone to, and see in real time what the drone’s camera sees.
These days, I dream about a solid competitor to DJI’s lineup of drones. Yuneec was a solid contender, but hasn’t introduced new products of late to compete with DJI’s Mavic or Spark. GoPro had us hopeful — briefly — until recalls happened.
And lately, it seems my dreams of any drone company taking down DJI are about as realistic as Amazon drone delivery happening on any sort of wide scale by the end of the year. (Aka: highly unrealistic).