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If you’re looking for a new gadget to buy, it’s hard to go wrong with drones. They are all the rage these days, and there’s no shortage of people who are buying one. You’re ready to jump on the bandwagon and buy a drone, but find yourself asking where the best place is to buy your first drone.
Buying a drone online gives the advantage of a wide selection, the best prices, and front door delivery. The best online options are Amazon and B&H Photo. Buying a drone in-store means you can talk to experts and test the drone before buying. The best in-store options are Walmart and Best Buy.
Drones come in many shapes and sizes with different abilities and controls, so it may seem like a daunting task to find one that suits your needs. The dizzying number of options of places to buy a drone can make this feel even more overwhelming. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of our top picks below for the best places you can find drones this year. Read on for some interesting insights and reviews that will help you find one that suits your needs!
Things to consider when deciding where to buy a drone #
Before I discuss the best places to buy a drone, let’s first review some of the factors you should consider when deciding where to buy one.
The price #
I love taking advantage of options where I can save some money, and I’m sure you do too. There are situations where the price of the drone online may be lower than the price in the store. As long as it’s the same quality, I would go for the cheaper option. However, you also need to consider other hidden costs, such as shipping costs. If the store operates mainly locally, they may charge a smaller shipping fee or even ship it to you for free. Sales tax is also a factor that could lead to a higher price on the drone.
Free shipping #
If you’ve decided to purchase your drone online, a seller offering free shipping allows you to save some money and still get the drone of your choice. However, this may not apply to international orders. You should also make sure the store you’re buying from can ship the drone to your location.
Shipping time #
How long the drone will take to get to you also matters. Local deliveries can be done the same day or within a few hours. But international deliveries can take weeks. If you need a drone urgently and it’s available at your local store, get it from there. For online stores, gauge the projected shipping time to find one that can deliver the product sooner.
Drones are released almost every year, with older versions being updated often. So, the best place to buy a drone would be a place with a wide range of drones to choose from. And a place that’s up to date with the advancements in drone technology, and offers the latest models.
Reviews and ratings #
Reviews and ratings are essential no matter what you are buying. This is especially true, for something like a drone where others may have already tried it out – the user reviews can be very useful in helping you decide which one to buy. Always buy from stores that have genuine reviews from users and experts. It would also be great if the sellers have tested the drones themselves and shared the information on their websites. Besides reviews on the products, you should also consider what others say about the store.
Should I buy a drone online or at a store? #
There are two main places you can purchase a drone: online and in a local store. The debate on online vs in-store has been going on for some time. Whether you choose one or the other depends on the factors I just reviewed above. With that in mind, let’s compare them.
Access to customer reviews
You get to test the drone
Variety and lower prices
In some cases, it’s safer
You can talk to an expert
Coupons and discounts
You don’t have to wait for delivery
You get to support a local store
Why you should buy online #
Online shopping has been around since the 1990s. But with the increase in internet speed and penetration in the past two decades, more people are purchasing items online. Nothing beats the convenience of getting all the products you need from the comfort of your home. However, it also has its risks.
Access to customer reviews #
The best thing about purchasing online is that you can read reviews from people who’ve used the products. Several review and tutorial blog posts and YouTube videos can help you make a better decision. When purchasing from a local store, you may not have the same access to this information, especially when the drone in the store may not be a very well-known model.
Variety and lower prices #
Another benefit of buying online is that there is a large variety of drones to choose from and information about the latest drones. Local stores may not always have the drone you’re looking for. You may also find the products at lower prices or even be able to find a seller selling a second-hand drone that’s still in good shape.
Nothing beats the experience of having a product delivered to your doorstep. It’s convenient and saves you a lot of time. Better yet, you don’t have to deal with crowds.
With the spread of Covid-19, there has been a rise in the need for businesses offering delivery services. Everyone remembers that period in time when visiting a physical store wasn’t possible. Online shops came in handy since they could deliver drones and other products without exposing the seller or the buyer to the virus. Buyers found delivery quite convenient long before the coronavirus, and even now that the pandemic is over, delivery remains one of the main benefits of buying online.
Coupons and discounts #
There are generally more coupons and discount offers available in online shopping, both from affiliate marketers reviewing the products and the online shops than you can find in local stores.
Why you should buy in-store #
You get to test the drone #
When you purchase a drone online, you have no idea whether it works or not. And if you find that it doesn’t work as expected, or some parts are damaged, it will be a long process to get a replacement from the vendor. Sometimes, you may never get a replacement. But with In-Store shopping, you get to test the drone right there until you’re satisfied that it will suit your needs.
In some cases, it’s safer #
While online shopping offers convenience, it’s full of scams and wrong information. It’s also quite challenging to verify the information you get or the credibility of the seller. With in-store shopping, more often than not, what you see is what you get. When you know what you’re looking for, you can tell the difference between a fake drone and an original drone.
You can talk to an expert #
Local stores, especially those specialized in drones, allow you to talk to an expert or a drone enthusiast who can teach you various aspects and even guide you on the best ways to choose a drone. You get a more personalized experience than buying online, where you may not always get the feedback you need from the Support department.
You don’t have to wait for delivery #
With online shopping, delivery can take weeks or even months if there’s a delay. At the very least you’ll have to wait a few days. If you need the drone for a project, this can be quite a challenge. But with in-store shopping, you test a drone and take it with you: no waiting and no extra shipping costs.
You get to support a local store #
While online shopping offers convenience and sometimes discounts, sometimes it’s great to support a local business, instead of simply feeding the already monstrous commercial giants.
Best places to buy a drone online #
Now let’s look at some of the best places to buy drones online.
Amazon is one of the largest online stores, offering a wide range of products, including drones. From toy drones and beginner drones to professional and industry-specific drones, you can find them on Amazon. You can find some of the most popular brands, such s DJI, Autel Robotics, Syma, and Parrot. But smaller companies such as Holy Stone, Force1, and many others are also available. Also, they ship their products worldwide, making it one of the best places to buy drones online.
One thing I love about Amazon is that most products are backed by quite a number of user reviews. Some reviews can indeed be bought, but most reviews on Amazon are genuine, and they give you a clear picture of how the drone you want to purchase functions. Once you get the drone and use it for some time, you can also post a review and help other buyers.
- A wide variety of drones and drone accessories.
- They ship worldwide.
- You have access to user reviews and ratings.
- Products are often out of stock.
Suppose you’re looking for a photography drone. In that case, B&H Photo Video is your best bet since they specialize in photography and video equipment, including drones, cameras, laptops, and a wide range of other accessories. Besides professional photography drones, they also have racing drones, prosumer drones, underwater drones, and many other hobby gadgets.
Better yet, their site is an excellent resource for reviews and educational materials to help you make the best use of your devices. And sometimes you find that the prices on B&H are better than what you find on Amazon.
- A comprehensive collection of drones and accessories for photography.
- Excellent customer service.
- Tons of valuable tips and reviews for photographers.
- They charge a sales tax.
- A limited drone inventory compared to other stores.
This is another excellent online shop for photography devices, both new and pre-owned. Their collection of drones and drone accessories is mainly for photography, so if you’re into racing, land survey, or another drone profession, you may not find the drone you’re looking for.
- Excellent customer service.
- No sales tax for some regions, making it a cheaper option.
- They ship worldwide.
- They also offer their products on a rental basis.
- Limited drone inventory compared to Amazon.
If you’re looking for high-end drones at lower prices, consider buying used drones on eBay. This is riskier than buying new drones since you never know if the seller is legit and if the drone is in the excellent condition they say it is.
eBay has improved in maintaining secure transactions on their platforms, but you still need to do your due diligence. The aspects to check into include the return policy, seller location, the cost (it shouldn’t be higher than a new drone unless it’s upgraded), and the manufacturer’s warranty eligibility. Pay attention to eBay’s bidding system. Use it wisely, and you could get some of the best deals. Misuse it, and you could be banned from the platform.
- It’s cheaper.
- They’ve improved safety measures for both sellers and buyers.
- You can also sell your drone when you need to.
- A seller could scam you.
The Manufacturers’ Websites #
If you find it hard to purchase drones from online stores, you would be on the safer side if you bought directly from the manufacturer. Below are some top drone manufacturers that also have direct online stores.
DJI Store (Online) – The undisputed king of drone makers, DJI has a store set up on their website that makes it easy for you to buy drones. You can get pretty much all of their products here, and the great thing is they’ll ship it right to your doorstep without any problems at all. The store itself is user-friendly and has a ton of great information, including reviews, guides, videos, and more on drone flying so you can improve your knowledge base.
Parrot SA – Who would’ve guessed that Parrot, the company behind some of the most popular drones in the World, would have an online store? This is a well-designed site that makes it easy for you to buy one of their products. Some of them are available at discounted prices as well, so that’s something to keep in mind when you’re shopping.
GoPro ****– The company that invented the action camera also has one of the best drones available today. If you’re looking for something small and lightweight, their Karma Drone would be perfect for you! They also have many others to choose from, as well as cameras, gimbals, and other accessories you can use on your drone.
More places to buy drones online #
By no means an exhaustive list of where it’s possible to buy your next drone, here are a few more options to consider of places you could buy a drone online.
Drones Direct – A place for true drone enthusiasts in the UK, Drones Direct has a rich collection of unique products. They focus on the high-end and professional drones available today from top brands, but they also have something for casual hobbyists looking to buy their first quadcopter or RC drone.
Hobby King – Another option for those looking to get their drone at a reasonable price is Hobby King. Self-described as “the world’s largest hobby retailer,” they have all sorts of RC products available at affordable prices. Product quality may vary a little, but for the most part, you’ll be satisfied with what you get.
DroneFly ****– If you’re looking for the best experience when buying a drone, why not go for an online site that specializes in drones? DroneFly is such a store that offers an extensive collection of drones and drone accessories. DroneFly also provides support and repair services, but only to US-based users. If you’re outside the US, you can still benefit from their fast shipping, excellent customer service, and always helpful support team.
Best places to buy a drone in-store #
If you don’t want to buy a drone online, or there aren’t delivery options for your location, you can try local department stores. Now, there are numerous stores that sell drones; some are branches of larger enterprises, and others are stand-alone stores. Whichever the case, make sure the store has a good reputation and make sure you have all the information you need before buying the drone. If you’re in the United States, here are some stores to check out.
Walmart is one of the most popular retailing companies in the United States and probably the world. The best thing about shopping from Walmart is that they have a wide variety of drones, both high-end and hobby drones. They also have both an online store and a physical store. Their stores are spread out across the country and in 24 other countries. So, it’s likely there’s a Walmart store near you.
- A wide range of products to choose from.
- They offer both online and in-store shopping.
- They employ lots of people, so you’ll be supporting a local economy.
- Walmart is only available in 24 countries.
This is another US-based retail company for a wide range of products. Just like Walmart, you can purchase online or in-store as long as you’re in the United States. They may have a limited inventory of drones compared to Amazon, but you more than likely can get a drone that suits your needs. If you’re outside of the US, you may have to use third-party shipping companies such as Planet Express.
- A vast inventory of drones compared to most local stores.
- Fair prices.
- They also offer local deliveries.
- Target doesn’t ship internationally.
Best Buy specializes in all kinds of electronics and hardware and also carries a good selection of drone models. The store staff at Best Buy tends to be well versed in their knowledge of electronic devices and drones and can steer you in the right direction if you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for in a drone.
Best Buy stores are widespread across the USA, so you can probably find one near you, or you can shop their online store and still support a local workforce. Unfortunately, like Target, Best Buy does not ship internationally.
- Good inventory and selection of drone models.
- Competitive pricing.
- Also offers online sales and delivery.
- Best Buy doesn’t ship internationally.
Those around Texas and its environs are lucky to have Drones Plus Dallas, a store specializing in drones, drone accessories, drone repairs, and software to accomplish tasks such as videography, aerial photography, and surveying. Drones Plus Dallas is an authorized distributor for DJI drones, but other high-end and low-end drone models are also available. They are a community of drone enthusiasts who not only sell drones but build them and fly them too. So, you can bet you’ll get all the information you need from a store clerk before buying your first drone.
- A wide variety of drones to choose from, including custom-built drones.
- They offer repairs.
- They also offer training and tips on using drones.
- They only operate in Texas, USA.
Tips for smart drone shopping #
Below are some tips on getting the best value for your money.
Consider what you need it for #
Drones have found a place in many industries today. Some applications include photography, videography, land survey, inspections, agriculture, law enforcement, and leisure. The drone you choose has to be well-suited for the application. For instance, for photography, the drone should have a high-quality camera, a gimbal, and the ability to carry any extra payloads.
If you’re just looking for a fun toy to buzz around with, spending a lot on a drone with the best camera may be much more than what you need.
Consider your budget #
How much you’re willing to spend on a drone depends on your budget and the features you need in a drone. Hobby drones and toy drones aren’t that expensive. But high-end drones with high-quality features tend to be more expensive. With so many models out there, it’s possible to find drones with similar features but a considerable price difference.
But, just because it has a lower price doesn’t mean it’s the best deal. Check its durability, reviews from other customers, warranty, and the reputation of the brand. It’s better to pay a higher cost for a drone, especially for professional work, than buy a cheap model that will drown you in repair costs, or quit working after just a couple of years.
Consider the drone type #
As mentioned earlier, drones come in various types and sizes—the main types of consumer drones are quadcopters and RC helicopters. Quadcopters have four rotors, but it’s possible to find drone models with six or even eight rotors. The larger the drone, the more expensive it will be, and the more functions you can accomplish.
On the other hand, RC helicopters are small helicopters that mimic the larger models. Some may have cameras, and some may be designed for various professional activities such as filming. But there are several toy helicopters from brands such as Syma.
Or there are fixed-wing drones that are harder to launch and land, but that can cover much larger areas and stay in the air for much longer periods of time. One example of this would be the senseFly eBee.
Look for a drone design that is the best fit for the type of uses you need the drone for.
Buy drones with flexible warranties #
A lot of the machines out there come with warranties, but they’re not all the same. Some allow for free repairs or replacements, while others don’t have any at all, so it might be worth your while to check into what kind of coverage a given brand or machine offers before making a final decision.
Buy drones with good customer service #
Your machine will inevitably break down after using it for some time, so don’t hesitate to contact its manufacturer or seller if something goes wrong. In general, manufacturers of popular brands are more inclined to provide better customer service than the lesser-known brands, so it would probably make sense to buy a drone from one of them.
Buy drones with flexible return policies #
You never know what can go wrong when you invest in relatively new technology like these machines. So, it’s best to get your money back if something goes south. Some of these machines can be a headache to understand, so spend some time doing some research before buying one if you have any concerns about how easy it will be to use and repair.
Buy drones with solid brand loyalty #
It’s not a bad idea to consider buying from brands that have been around for a while, simply because they tend to make high-quality machines and maintain good relationships with their customers. There are, of course, newer brands out there that can be trusted just as much, so don’t be afraid to at least check into those options too.
Do some preliminary research to determine what kind you want #
While there are many different types of drones out there, taking the time to figure out which type will work best for your needs could save you a lot of headaches down the road. Some of the aspects you need to check include;
- Camera quality
- Flight time
- Ability to work with third-party accessories
- Operating Range
- Types of motors
- Propeller guards
- What’s in the box?
And there you have it. We hope this article has helped you get started in your search for the best place to buy a drone. Whether to buy it in-store or online depends on availability, the price, shipping cost, and when you need the drone. It’s also important that you know what type of drone will suit your needs and budget before making any purchase decisions.