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10 Reasons the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium is the Best Value Drone for Sale in 2016

James Montgomery

2016 has been a great year for consumer camera drones. The DJI Phantom 4 and Yuneec Typhoon H have captured a lot of attention for their advanced features, particularly obstacle avoidance.

In the midst of all the press for DJI and Yuneec’s new offerings, newcomer Autel Robotics released their X-Star series of Quadcopters to much less fanfare. It's a shame these drones haven't received more press because the X-Star Premium has most of the features you will find in more expensive drones but costs significantly less.

Here are 10 reasons why the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium is the best value drone available in 2016:


Autel Robotics XStar Premium10. It's orange. X-Star Premium owners lovingly refer to their drone as “the Flying Pumpkin” because of its orange color (although both versions are also available in white). The FAA requires pilots to keep their drone within line of sight. In most weather conditions, high-visibility orange should allow X-Star Premium pilots to fly at greater ranges while still maintaining visual contact with their drone.


9. It has a modular payload. The X-Star Premium are designed with an easily Autel X-Star Premium Gimbalremovable gimbal which only requires the push of a button on the side of the gimbal to slide it off. This feature will allow the camera to be easily upgraded as payload technologies advance. If you’re happy with the platform and just want an upgraded payload, you can save significant money by replacing only the camera instead of buying a new drone.


8. Range. Speaking of range, the X-Star Premium advertised maximum control range is 1.2 miles. In practice, pilots have managed to extend the range nearly twice that far. Autel achieves this extended range by broadcasting the video link via the 900 MHz frequency band (via the controller) rather than the more commonly used 2.4GHz WiFi band. Not only does using this frequency allow for increased video range, it also reduces the potential for interference from other WiFi signals in the area, resulting in a clear picture at extended ranges.


Autel Robotics XStar Premium Controller7. LCD Display. The X-Star Premium requires an external display such as a smartphone or tablet to allow the pilot to see live video from the drone’s camera. This requirement means you have to spend a little extra on a smartphone or tablet if you don't already have one, but gives you more choice of display sizes and resolutions. However, unlike others that require an external device, Autel has added an LCD display to the controller itself which provides critical flight telemetry data such as altitude, range, battery remaining, etc. This redundancy provides an increased margin of safety and allows the pilot the option to use the full screen of the external display to view video coming back from the drone at 720P.


6. Smart Modes. While lacking ActiveTrack, TapFly, Point of Interest, or Journey mode which can be found in more expensive models, the X-Star Premium comes with a good suite of “smart modes.” It has orbit, follow and waypoint modes, return to home with programmable height, and intelligent orientation control. These modes allow the pilot to focus more on setting up the right shot and less on controlling the drone.


5. 64 GB SD Card. Most drones these days come packaged with a micro-SD card, generally 16GB. Autel Robotics packages a 64GB SD Card with the X-Star Premium. It’s a small thing, and not much more expensive than a 16GB card, but it’s a nice touch and adds value to the package.


4. Rigid Case. Autel XStar Premium CaseThe X-Star Premium comes in a zippered, splash resistant, rigid case. This case is no beer cooler. It has a solid feel to it and is sized to easily fit on an airplane. Purchased separately, the case costs $89 but it is included as part of the X-Star Premium package.


3. Picture Quality. While many people choose to fly their drone for only for the joy of flying, the real purpose of camera drones is to capture photos and videos from an elevated perspective. The X-Star Premium excels in this area. Its 108 degree FOV camera is capable of taking video at 4K30, 2.7K60, 1080p120, or 720p240 fps. It has the ability to take 12 MP photographs and has burst shooting (3/5/7 seconds), time lapse (5/7/10/20/30 seconds) and Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) modes and saves them as JPG or DNG. Although picture quality can be somewhat subjective, the general consensus among X-Star Premium owners is that there is no better camera on a consumer-grade drone from photos and video we've seen, we're inclined to agree.


Autel Robotics Customer Support2. Customer Support. In an ideal world, every drone would work perfectly, right out of the box. Unfortunately, in the real world, sometimes drones have problems. When problems happen, it’s important to have someone to turn to for help. Autel Robotics has made a commitment to customer service. They provide 7-day per week customer support via phone, email or live chat. After hours, you can still find the answers to many of your questions through an extensive knowledge base that can be found on the Autel Robotics website. It’s difficult to put a value on customer support. If you never need it, it’s worth nothing, but if you must have it, there’s no substitute.


1. Price. It’s impossible to talk about the “best value” drone without without talking about price. When you compare available features to the $1199 Phantom 4, $1299 Typhoon H, and the $999 Phantom 3 Professional, the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium’s $799 price tag ($749 for White) is beyond fantastic.


If you want the most “bleeding-edge” advanced features available in a consumer-grade drone such as obstacle avoidance, active track, tap-fly, journey mode, point of interest, 6-rotors, etc., the DJI Phantom 4 or Yuneec Typhoon H may be worth the extra money to you.


Bottom Line. If you’re looking for a great drone which has all the features almost everyone needs, coupled with a great camera, superb support, and a great price, you owe it to yourself to seriously consider the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium.

If you have any questions about whether the X-Star Premium is the right drone for you, call us at (800) 544-5887 or email and we'll be happy to help. If you're ready to buy, you can get your X-Star Premium at VH Drones for $749 with free shipping.

Disagree with us? Drop a note in the comments and let's discuss.

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  • Mike Stephens on

    1. How far can an X-Star Premium fly out from base and still be able to fly back to base? 2. Can you see what the video camera is showing regardless of how far out it is taping? If so, where is the receiver viewer located on the remote. This would be fantastic as you would feel just like you were the pilot on the unit! Maybe a person could drop a plastic look-alike bomb on a circular target. I am going to purchase one because of what you have shown the versatility of the quadchopper can do.

  • Mike Gardner on

    Im getting one in 20 min and am gonna make an out of box video and show first flight. I race custom Drones so Im excited…

  • Walter Covington on

    This is a wonderful drone! Easy to fly, wonderful stability for video and pics. The video is unreal!! Highly Recommend!

  • Josh on

    James, thanks for your note. I think I may actually have one of those tablets lying around - I got it as a thank-you gift for giving a presentation at nVidia. :)

  • VH Drones (James) on

    A lot of X-Star Premium users, including me, use the NVIDIA Shield Tablet K-1. It has an HDMI out port so you should be able to connect the controller to the tablet using USB and then use HDMI out to any HDMI capable goggles. It runs around $200.

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