Editors' Choice: Gear & GadgetsApril 12, 2017

Best Drones

Even the most demure golf course can look a bit like Augusta National—from the proper perspective. Make your version of a CBS opening montage by flying a drone over your favorite 18. We rated personal drones in two categories: high-end enthusiast models that can carry a high-definition video camera, and affordable entry models that would suit a junior or someone learning to fly. The best at any price are easy to fly out of the box and will survive some rough landings.

The enthusiast drone market is dominated by DJI and its ubiquitous line of Phantom quad-copters. The current iteration is the Phantom 4 Pro, and it offers a near-professional level of performance for about $1,500—depending on what accessories you choose. The stock package comes with a built-in 20-megapixel camera that stabilizes and rotates, and obstacle-avoidance sensors on all four sides. With the large screen on the included remote control and DJI's flight-control software, even a relatively inexperienced pilot can stay out of the bushes. The Phantom's software can recognize objects and follow them at a pre-set distance and will automatically bring the drone back to you if necessary.

The Parrot packs plenty of features into its $549 package—including a set of goggles that hold your smartphone and give you a unique "pilot-eye" perspective. The controller also works like a double-joystick video-game model, which will be a comfort to anybody with gaming experience. Its software package also protects beginners from some of the hazards of the new-pilot experience. The drone won't stall, and you can automatically take off and land with the touch of a button.

Professional/Enthusiast: DJI Phantom 4 Pro, $1,499
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Hobby/Entry-level: Parrot Bebop 2, $700
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