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What you need to know before you buy a drone

Posted at 8:50 AM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 08:50:28-05

A lot of shoppers at Best Buy are bypassing the big screen TV displays right now, because they are looking at drones.

"I just wanted to come in and look at some of them," said Tim Cady. "I'm thinking about getting one." The FAA expects more than 2 million drones flew off store shelves this past holiday season.

Best Buy sales expert Krys Hackett helps new customers find one right for them, and says she can't believe the interest level. "It's a new culture," she said, "a new technology culture, and everyone's super excited about it, so they are trending a lot right now."

Best Buy has dozens of drones, ranging from $59 "starter" drones (that even include a camera) all the way up to $1,000-plus quad copters.

Bud different prices mean big differences. Hackett says there are significant differences between them in terms of video quality, flight time, and stability in the air.

"When it comes to the lower end models," she said, "we recommend them for mostly indoor use: normally younger age kids, who want to try it out for a toy, and if you crash it, it's not that big of a deal."

She recommends most adults start with something in the $100 to $400 range, especially if you plan to use it outdoors.

Paying over $100, she said, "gives you more flight time and battery life," she said. A budget model might fly only 10 minutes before needing a recharge. Better models can fly up to a half hour.

On the high end are $1,000-plus models. For that money, Hackett said, "you're getting smart features. Some of them have a follow-me capability, where they will follow your controller if you are on an ATV or  bicycle."

Some now include a VR, or virtual reality headset, so as you work the controller, it feels as though you are inside the drone.

In addition, the pricier models now shoot true 4K video, which will soon be a must if you plan to use the drone for professional work like wedding or real estate shoots.

Remember that drones must now be registered. Before you fly, know the rules. By law, as of August 2016 you must now register your drone with the FAA, and you may not fly over private property without the owner's consent.

If you plan to use it anywhere outdoors, make sure you register it.

Despite the new rule, millions of drones will be taking off from fields and backyards this new year.