Return of the world’s best $20 drone
Cheeps! I’m excited to announce a spin-off blog: Business Bargain Hunter, hosted by the awesome folks over at ZDNet. Don’t worry, the Cheapskate isn’t going anywhere; I’m just expanding my tech coverage to include business-class.
There’s no newsletter option for it yet, but there’s an RSS feed if you’re old-school, and for now I’ll deliver new posts to my Facebook and Twitter feeds, same as with new Cheapskate posts. Hope you enjoy BBH! (I especially like that because it sounds like BB-8, which totally satisfies my inner nerd.)
Raise your hand if you like this deal
That’ll make sense in a minute.
There are two ways to pilot a quadcopter, right? Either you use an app on your phone or tablet — not the best option, in my humble opinion — or you use a handheld remote with a pair of joysticks.
But wait! Turns out there’s a third way, and it’s awesome. Not only that, it’s stupid-cheap: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Tomtop has the Techboy TB-802 motion-controlled drone for $19.99 shipped. No promo code required!
Important: Be sure to choose United States Warehouse before adding the TB-802 to your cart. And when you get to checkout, choose the Priority Shipping option, which also appears to be free. (Even then, it’ll probably take close to a week to arrive. This ain’t Amazon, after all.)
Take note, too, that this is a flash-sale price, and Tomtop currently shows inventory of only 100 units. Not sure if that’s a real number of just an at-this-price number, but as of this writing, there are about 95 left.
Why this is awesome
The TB-802 is controlled not by an app and not by a traditional remote. Rather, you hold something that closely resembles a computer mouse, and tilt it in the direction you want the drone to fly.
I was initially skeptical about this, because it seems like a gimmick that can’t possibly work well — certainly not for $20. Verdict: It works really well. The controller makes the drone easier to fly than just about any other I’ve tried, and I daresay more fun, too.
A little plastic clip keeps it secured beneath two fingers. There’s a little joystick on the side; you push it in to take off, again to land. The drone auto-hovers at about five feet unless you adjust the altitude, which you do by holding the joystick down and angling the controller up or down.
Mostly, though, you just leave the joystick alone and tilt your hand. It’s totally intuitive, totally simple. And it’s always in headless mode, so even if you pivot the “front,” the controls remain consistent.
The usual caveats
This is a really lightweight drone (but larger than I expected), so it’s not suitable for outdoor use unless there’s little to no breeze. The 3.7V 280mAh battery is good for about 6-8 minutes of flight time, but extras can be had for cheap. Just make sure the measurements match up, as there are some variances.
I know at least a few readers have experienced customer-service issues with Tomtop, but I have a very responsive contact there who always takes care of any situations that arise. So hit me up if you run into a problem.
Bottom line: This is my favorite $20 drone — in part because it’s a $20 drone! But also because you fly it in a totally unique (and fun) way. Great, great gift item, if you ask me.
If you bought one of these last time around, hit the comments and share your experience.
Bonus deal: One of my other favorite products is back on sale. For a limited time, and while supplies last, A4C once again has the refurbished Samsung Gear Fit 2 for $59.95 shipped. As of this writing, only the black color remains, but you can still choose between small and large sizes. (I’m a medium, 6-foot guy, and the small fit me just fine. YMMV.)
In addition to all the usual fitness stuff — step-tracking, heart-rate monitoring, etc. — the Gear Fit 2 offers built-in GPS, integrated Spotify and an absolutely gorgeous display. Plus, you can choose from a huge assortment of faces. This is definitely a better, er, fit for Android users, but iPhone owners can get plenty of functionality from it as well.
A4C backs the unit with its own 90-day warranty. This is without question the best wearable you can get for $60. Period.