Consumer Reports (CR), which has been spewing detailed product reviews of everything under the sun since back in the 1930s, offered a feature on consumer drones in its latest print issue. The four-page spread, found just before the magazine’s review of 116 types of mattresses, put DJI at the top of the categories and stressed that buyers can get a “well-designed, user-friendly drone for just a few hundred dollars.”

Written by Chris Raymond, the feature says, “Aerial video of your daughter’s wedding or a scenic hike is now within reach. Thanks to user-friendly design changes, drones are poised to go mainstream. CR puts the latest models to the test.”

Specifically, CR tested out two categories of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS): larger UAS that “generally have longer ranges and more features” and smaller, “shorter-range” UAS. In the tests, CR chose drones with “simple, reliable controls and high-quality cameras.”

The magazine uses rankings of “poor,” “fair,” “good,” “very good” and “excellent.” It should be noted that CR, which is based out of Yonkers, N.Y., is an independent, nonprofit organization that purchases the products it rates; it does not accept free test products.

For the larger UAS, categorized as “outdoor only,” CR put the $900 DJI Mavic Pro at the top of the chart. With an overall score of 82 (out of 100), the drone ranked “excellent” for flight, image quality, versatility and safety features; meanwhile, it ranked “very good” for battery life and ease of use.

Following the Mavic Pro were the $350 Parrot Bebop 2 w/ FPV pack (62), the $800 GoPro Karma (60) and the $700 Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon 4K quadcopter (58). Notable scores included an “excellent” for Yuneec’s ease of use but only a “fair” for both Yuneec’s and GoPro’s battery life. Of course, GoPro recently announced that it would be exiting the drone business, as noted by CR.

For the smaller UAS, categorized as “selfie drones,” the $400 DJI Spark took the top spot with a score of 84. It ranked “excellent” for flight, battery life, versatility and ease of use but “very good” for HD video quality and still photos. Because it does not have a 4K camera, it did not receive a grade for 4K video quality, and because CR’s article was published before the DJI Mavic Air was released, the rankings did not include DJI’s new 4K drone.

In total, CR ranked five other drones in the selfie category: the $230 Yuneec Breeze 4K (68), the $280 ZeroTech Dobby (67), the $500 Xiro Xplorer Mini (62), the $500 Hover Camera Passport (54) and the $240 Wingsland S6 4K (53).

Including the Spark, all drones in this category scored “excellent” for ease of use. The Spark and the Breeze both got an “excellent” for battery life, and the Spark and Passport each got an “excellent” for versatility. The Spark got the only “excellent” for flight, while the Passport scored the lowest for flight with a “fair.” The only other “fair” scores in the selfie category were found for the Wingsland drone’s HD video quality, still photos and battery life.

CR’s online version of the article can be found here.

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Erick Mason

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