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Get a Syma X5C quad-copter for $49.79 shipped

That's a great price on what is arguably the single best starter drone you can buy.


This is an update of a deal I shared back in December. Lower price, better model -- what's not to like?

Summer is here, and that means it's drone-flying time! If you haven't yet had the pleasure, it's time to indulge your inner kid. Or your actual kid, if you've got one. These things are a blast, plain and simple.

And surprisingly affordable. Today, for example, you can get the Syma X5C quad-copter for $49.79 shipped. To my thinking it's the single best entry-level drone you can buy, for reasons I'll explain shortly. (Quick note: As I understand it, the only difference between this X5C-W model and the X5C-1 is the packaging.)

First things first: This is sold on Amazon via Battery Superstore, and I have no idea how much inventory they have. If supplies run out, that link may take you to the same product from another seller, perhaps with a slightly different price (and with or without free Prime shipping). This model is all over Amazon from a variety of sellers -- and, thankfully, most are priced within a few bucks.

The "C" in the product name indicates "camera," meaning you'll be able to capture in-flight photos and videos -- though because it's a 2-megapixel camera, don't expect GoPro quality.

Last year I had the chance to test-fly the X5C and came away thoroughly impressed. It's fast, easy to maneuver, and about as damage-proof as these things come -- though you should definitely install the included blade-guards. I especially like the bright, down-facing LEDs, which make the drone easier to track as you fly it higher.

I also like the fact that it's reasonably large. For about $10 less you can get one of the cool little Hubsan drones, but they're so tiny, they're hard to track once they hit around 30 feet.

Alas, battery life is anemic -- about 7-8 minutes, which is typical for drones like this. So consider buying a few extra batteries. Ultimate upgrade: four spares and a charger that can juice all of them at once, all for $16.69. Meanwhile, be sure to hit up YouTube for a bunch of cool mods, including extending the range, changing the camera angle and so on.

All I ask is that you exercise caution and common sense, especially if you're giving this to a kid. Drones can be dangerous, what with gravity and sharp spinning blades and all. Study, learn, practice.

Bonus deal: Game time! Ubisoft's Uplay store is offering a bunch of Lego games (for Windows) for $5 each, including Lego Lord of the Rings, Lego The Hobbit and The Lego Movie game. You can also get one of the latest, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, for $7.50. (Makes me wonder why anyone would preorder Lego Jurassic World for $59.99, which is also an option. I'm sure it'll be awesome, but it'll also be a fraction of the price in 6-8 months.)