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As regular Cheapskate readers know, I'm a big fan of quadcopters, aka drones. And no, "drone" may not be the technically accurate term, but we're stuck with it, same as we're stuck with "hoverboard" for two-wheeled self-balancing scooters. Let's just accept it and move on.
Alas, drones are not an inexpensive hobby, at least if you want one that can fly waypoints, integrate with a GoPro, stay airborne for more than 10 minutes and so on. That's why I'm excited about today's deal. It's still expensive, but no longer crazily so.
For a limited time, you can get the 3DR Solo with 3-axis gimbal for $799.96, plus around $12 for shipping. That's after applying coupon code DIYD20OFF at checkout. Regular price: $999.95, itself a big drop from the $1,399 original price tag of last year.
I got a chance to see the Solo in action a few weeks ago on what proved to be a very windy day in southern California's Corral Canyon. The drone performed several of its best tricks, including orbit and follow-me. Although I could see it getting buffeted quite a bit by the wind, the resulting GoPro footage was rock-solid thanks to the gimbal. Here's a video put together by the pilot, my buddy Dave. I'm the dork in red. Note that I had no say in the music selection.
And that's really the point of owning one of these: capturing amazing aerial video that would normally require a helicopter. Whether you're an amateur (or even a professional) moviemaker or you just want to see what birds see, this drone delivers.
The Solo is also amazingly easy to fly, with a game console-inspired controller that has buttons marked "Fly" and "Home."
The only thing missing: collision-avoidance sensors like the kind embedded in the new DJI Phantom 4. But that model will set you back $1,399. (On the other hand, it includes a camera. With the Solo, it's BYO GoPro, to the tune of another $300-400. Just saying.)
I realize that even at $799, this isn't an affordable splurge for everyone. But if you have the means, this deal delivers an awful lot of bang for your drone buck. Wonder if I can finance it by selling all my other quadcopters...
Bonus deal: If you were on the fence about yesterday's VPN Unlimited deal, StackSocial just sweetened it: Now you can get a lifetime subscription to both VPN Unlimited and To Do Checklist for the same $39. If you already purchased the other deal yesterday, I would definitely reach out to StackSocial's customer service to see if they'll let you trade up. Don't get your hopes up, though -- there's an "all sales final" policy in place for subscription deals. And if you've already redeemed your license, well, you're probably SOL.
Bonus deal 2: Want to dip your toe (or even an entire foot) into the world of 3D animation? Today only, Giveaway of the Day is giving away Reallusion's iClone 5 Standard (Windows). Normally $79.95, this powerful tool lets you animate digital actors, environments and visual effects, with the option of using a Microsoft Kinect for motion-capture. This isn't the most current version (that would be iClone 6), and the learning curve is reported to be steep. But for wanna-be animators, there's a lot of power here for a price that can't be beat. (Note: As with all GotD offers, you must download, install and activate this today.)