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When it comes to quadcopters, very often it seems like you have two choices: sub-$100 models good for bouncing around indoors, and $1,000-plus models for "serious" outdoor flying. Surely there must be something in between?
There is, and it's on sale: Cookie Electronics (via Ebay) has the DJI Phantom 3 Standard for $399 shipped. That's $100 off the regular price, which itself is a $300 savings off the list price.
Update: Eagle-eyed reader jasco215 spotted the Phantom 3 Standard at Amazon for $346, an even more insanely good price. As of around 9:30 a.m. PT, however, it showed only five left in stock.
Though marketed by DJI as the "drone for beginners," the Phantom 3 Standard offers some pretty high-end features. For example, it comes with a built-in 1080p HD camera that's mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, the latter essential for capturing that rock-solid aerial footage even when it's a windy day.
That camera also streams live 720p video back to your phone or tablet, thus allowing you to see what it sees in real-time.
The battery is good for an impressive 25 minutes of flight time. That's the good news; the bad news is that extra batteries typically run at least $150, though I was able to find one for $114.95. Even then: ouch.
What really excites me about the Phantom 3 Standard is DJI's companion app, which offers a ton of cool features like waypoint navigation, point of interest (POI) flight planning and a Follow Me function. Usually you have to pay a much higher price to get those kinds of options.
Want to learn more? Read Josh Goldman's review, which awarded the Phantom 3 Standard an 8.0 (out of 10) and called it "the best beginner quadcopter you're going to find for the money." I concur, except that there's really nothing "beginner" about this except the price.
One of my first drones was DJI's Phantom FC40, a forgiving, easy-to-fly workhorse that had the same basic design as the Phantom 3. I paid right around the same amount for it a few years back. For the same money, the Phantom 3 Standard represents a considerable upgrade.
Indeed, if you're in the market for a great outdoor drone, one that won't require you to drop another $400 on a GoPro and $300 on a gimbal, look no further. This is a bargain at $499 and a steal at $399.
Bonus deal: I love it when premium audio gear finds its way into the bargain bin. Which is exactly what happened today: Chubbiestech (via Ebay) has the refurbished Harman Kardon Onyx Studio portable Bluetooth speaker for $59 shipped. This was $79.99 the last time I wrote about it and $399.99 (!) when it debuted a couple years ago. Reviews (user and pro alike) are stellar.
Just one caveat: This comes with only a 30-day warranty, and the unit may exhibit a few scuffs or scratches. At this price, though, I'd say that's totally tolerable.