That's a great price on what is arguably the single best starter drone you can buy.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
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.)