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The best drones of 2018

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Wish you could fly? Here are the best drones on the market right now

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. They’re everywhere now, and they’re available in just about any shape, size, or configuration you could ever want.

The market is absolutely saturated with them now, even including some fantastic models under $500. so to help you navigate the increasingly large and ever-changing landscape of consumer UAVs, we put together this definitive list of the best drones on the planet right now. So without further ado, here’s the cream of the quadcopter crop.

At a glance

  • DJI Mavic Air: Best drone overall (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  • Yuneec Breeze: Best drone for beginners (3.5 out of 5 stars)
  • Ryze Tello: Best cheap drone
  • DJI Inspire 2: Best drone for filmmakers (4 out of 5 stars)
  • QAV250 Mini FPV Carbon Fiber Edition: Best drone for racing
  • Parrot Mambo: Best drone for kids
  • DJI Spark: Best selfie drone (4 out of 5 stars)

DJI MAVIC AIR
The best

dji-mavic-air-review-8

Why you should buy this: It has all the features you need in a drone, yet is still compact enough to fit in a backpack or purse

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a fullfeatured yet highly portable drone

How much it’ll cost: $799

Why we chose the DJI Mavic Air:
What makes the Mavic Air so amazing is that, despite the fact that it’s one of the most compact and portable drones we’ve ever flown, it’s also one of the most capable and full-featured. It’s equipped with a 4K camera, a 3-axis gimbal, forward/backward/downward obstacle avoidance, tons of autopilot modes, range over four miles, and somehow it still fits in the palm of your hand. It’s living proof that scaling down size doesn’t necessarily mean scaling back on features, and that big things really can come in small packages.

The portability factor is huge. Thanks to a very clever hinge system, the Mavic’s arms fold up into a neat little package just smaller than the dimensions of your average brick, which makes it a breeze to stuff in your backpack or messenger bag and lug along on your adventures. Photographers always say that the best camera is the one you have with you, and the same could definitely be said for drones. If it’s portable, you’re far more likely to have it with you when you need it.

When it comes to portable drones, the Mavic Air has no equal — although the Mavic Pro is still a pretty solid contender. It boasts slightly better camera specs and lasts a bit longer in the air, but it also costs an extra $200.

YUNEEC BREEZE
The best drone for beginners

yuneec-breeze-flying

Why you should buy this: Because it’s easy to fly, relatively cheap, reasonably durable, and also provides you with plenty of room to grow and progress as a pilot

Who its for: Novice pilots who want a durable, easy-to-fly drone with a decent camera and a plethora of upgrade options

How much it’ll cost: $200-$230

Why we chose the Yuneec Breeze:
Some people will tell you that beginner pilots should cut their teeth on lower-end drones, but in our expert opinion, that’s nonsense. Why? Crappier drones are harder and less reliable to fly, which means that you’re far more likely to crash and destroy them. We think its a smarter idea to start out with a slightly nicer drone with reliable, responsive controls, a decent warranty, and a design that’s easy to repair or upgrade.

With these goals in mind, Yuneec’s Breeze is a fantastic choice for any greenhorn drone pilot. It is relatively cheap, but not so cheap that you’ll be encouraged to fly carelessly. It also has a pretty decent 4K camera on the undercarriage, and boasts an ultraportable form factor that makes transport, well, a Breeze.

And the best part? You can fly it with your smartphone, or pick up Yuneec’s dedicated controller system if you want tighter, more responsive controls. In other words, if you start with this drone, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of piloting a quadcopter — but more importantly, you’ll also be able to upgrade your setup as your skills progress and your needs change.

RYZE TELLO

The best cheap drone

ryze-tello-lifestyle

Why you should buy this: Despite costing just $99 bucks, this little bugger boasts all the essential features you need.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants an affordable drone that’s easy to fly

How much it’ll cost: $99

Why we chose the Ryze Tello drone: Generally speaking, drones that cost less than $100 bucks aren’t worth your time. They’re flimsy, they lack advanced features, and they’re almost always squirrely as hell in the air. But Tello is different. Despite the fact that it retails for only $99, it boasts a boatload of high-end features and functionality. Under the hood you’ll find a 14-core Intel vision processing chip, flight stabilization tech from DJI, a 5 megapixel camera capable of shooting 720p HD video, and a battery that gets you 13 minutes of flight time.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t come with a controller, which means you’re forced to pilot Tello via virtual joysticks on a smartphone app: a control method that’s notoriously mushy and imprecise. The good news, though, is that Ryze built the drone with third-party peripherals in mind, so if you prefer to fly with physical sticks under your thumbs, you can pick up a GameSir T1d controller and link it to your bird. We think it’s well worth the extra $30 bucks!

DJI INSPIRE 2
The best drone for filmmakers

inspire-2-lifestyle-10

Why you should buy this: Because it’s a professional camera drone that’s ready to fly, straight out of the box

Who it’s for: Amateur and professional filmmakers who don’t want to build a custom camera drone rig

How much it’ll cost: $3,000

Why we chose the DJI Inspire 2:
There’s a reason you see DJI’s Inspire showing up everywhere from movie sets to Enrique Iglesias concerts — it’s a beast. The Inspire 2 boasts some seriously impressive specs: a controllable range of up to 4.3 miles, a top speed of 67 miles per hour, forward obstacle avoidance, and all the stabilization and autopilot features you could ever ask for in a drone. But the camera is definitely the star of the show.

DJI’s latest Zenmuse cam, the X5S, is a mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera made specifically for aerial photography and cinematography. It shoots in 5.2K at 30 frames per second (or 4K at 60), takes 20.4 megapixel stills, and boasts a ridiculously wide ISO range of 100 – 25,600. As an added bonus, this rig is cradled inside a vibration dampened 3-axis gimbal, so your footage comes out silky smooth no matter how crazily you fly.
DJI’s control system is also fantastic. The revamped DJI Go app puts all of the camera’s advanced controls right at your fingertips. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO can be adjusted with just a few taps, and focus can be set by simply tapping on the subject. With a setup like this, you don’t even need prior film experience or piloting skills to get professional-looking footage.

LUMENIER QAV250 MINI FPV CARBON FIBER EDITION
The best drone for racing

inspire-2-lifestyle-10

Why you should buy this: Because you want a drone you can race and upgrade, but don’t want to build one from scratch
Who it’s for: Novice and intermediate racing pilots

How much it’ll cost: $434

Why we chose the Lumenier QAV250 Mini FPV Carbon Fiber Edition:
Lumenier’s QAV250 wins our pick for the best racing drone for a few different reasons, but the first and most important is that it is modular and customizable. You can buy it pre-assembled from Lumenier, and while the stock configuration should be more than enough to satisfy pilots who are new to drone racing, you are also not locked in to that configuration forever. If you ever feel like upgrading your drone, you can easily swap out any of the parts for newer, better gear.

This flexibility is crucial. If you look at the winners of most drone races, you’ll notice that most pros fly their own custom drone rigs that can be tweaked and tuned to boost performance. The technology that powers drone racing is progressing at a breakneck pace, and the last thing you want to do is dump a bunch of money into a pre-built racing rig that’ll become obsolete in a few months. The best course of action is to get a rig that’ll get you in the air and racing, but also allow you to evolve — and that’s precisely what the QAV250 will do.

PARROT MAMBO
The best drone for kids

parrot-mambo-2

Why you should buy this: It’s stable and easy to fly, and it comes with a range of fun attachments.
Who it’s for: Kids and adults who want a drone that can shoot darts

How much it’ll cost: $120

Why we chose the Parrot Mambo:
Truth be told, you can get a cheaper drone that your kid will probably go bonkers over just the same, but they’ll actually be able to fly this one. There are a boatload of mini drones out there right now that you can get for under $50 — but in our experience, the vast majority of them are too squirrelly and difficult to master for your average kid.

Parrot’s new Mambo is different. Unlike most other mini drones, this one is actually designed specifically for kids. In addition to a boatload of motion sensors and advanced autopilot software that keeps the drone stable, Mambo also comes with a handful of attachments that make it more fun and engaging than a basic quadcopter. Inside the box you’ll find a cannon attachment, 50 foam cannon balls, and a grabber arm that can clamp and carry small objects.

And the best part? Parrot also gives you the option of piloting via smartphone or with a dedicated dual-joystick controller. The Flypad, as it’s called, is sold separately for $40 bucks, but it might be worth the extra dough if you don’t have a spare smartphone lying around and don’t feel like handing your kid your brand new iPhone every time he/she feels like flying.

DJI SPARK
The best selfie drone

best-drones-dji-spark-lifestyle

Why you should buy this: Because you want something portable that you can fly without a controller

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to take epic selfies

How much it’ll cost: $500

Why we chose the DJI Spark:

If there’s one thing DJI is good at, it’s stuffing a ton of features and functionality into increasingly small drones — and nothing showcases this talent more than the Spark. Despite the fact that the drone’s hull is roughly the size of a Twinkie, DJI somehow managed to cram in many of the same goodies you’d find under the hood of the Spark’s bigger, bulkier, and more expensive brothers.
Aside from its tiny and hyper-portable design, the Spark’s biggest feature is arguably its plethora of intelligent flying modes. In addition to DJI’s standard stuff, the Spark sports a handful of brand-new modes, including Rocket, Dronie, Circle, and Helix (more on those in a moment). The drone also comes with gesture recognition abilities, which allow it to be operated without a smartphone or controller.

Another big addition is Spark’s obstacle avoidance system. While the ability to sense and avoid objects is usually a feature reserved for larger drones, DJI went ahead and built one into the hull of the Spark. It’s not quite as robust as what you’ll find on the Phantom 4, or even the Mavic Pro, but it still serves its purpose, and helps you avoid crashes.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the camera. In addition to a 12-megapixel camera that shoots video in 1080p at 30 frames per second, the Spark also sports a two-axis gimbal. This lets it mechanically stabilize the camera and cancel out any jarring, shaky movements — resulting in smoother, better-looking footage. This also gives it a leg up on the competition; most selfie drones only feature single-axis mechanical stabilization.

HOW WE TEST DRONES

  • Build quality & Design

the first thing we do when we get a new drone is beat it up a little bit. We don’t kick it down the stairs or anything, but we’ll give it a few knocks, twists, and shallow drops to assess the build quality and durability. Does it feel flimsy, or does it feel like it could survive a crash landing in the park? We give each review unit a light beating (and usually a couple unintentional crash landings) before we give you a definitive answer on how durable it is.

  • Flight performance, range, and autonomy

To gauge flight performance, we put the drone through a number of tests to see how the manufacturer’s claims hold up. First we take it to a local football field and see how fast it can clear 100 yards, then do some calculations to get an objective reading on speed in miles per hour. After that, we do a similar test to assess ascent and descent speeds, and all the while, we’re also taking notes on how responsive the controls are, how stable the craft is, how far it can go before it’s out of range, and what the overall piloting experience is like compared to other drones.

  • Battery life and charge time

After we’ve taken the drone out to play for a while and jotted down a few notes about how long the battery lasts, we put it on the charger and grab a stopwatch to determine recharge time. Then we take it back out and do a hover test. By flying the drone in the least demanding conditions, we can get a sense of what the maximum flight time is. And finally, we take it out a few more good, hard flights to find out how long the battery lasts (on average) under normal conditions.

  • Camera, accessories, and upgradability

If the drone we’re testing happens to have a camera capable of recording, we capture as much footage as we possibly can. We’ll shoot in dark places, light places, and places with lots of color and contrast. This footage is then compared to all the highlight reels that we filmed with other drones, which helps us get a sense of the camera’s strengths and weaknesses. We also test any accessories that accompany the camera, like lenses, filters, gimbals, or FPV goggles. Finally, we’ll also let you know if the camera setup is upgradable, so you wont be stuck with an outdated shooter in two years.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/best-drones/

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Intel shares down after CEO Brian Krzanich resigns over relationship with employee

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The surprise move comes after a board investigation found he violated the company’s nonfraternization policy for managers.

Brian Krzanich is out as CEO of Intel.

The chip giant on Thursday said that Brian Krzanich had resigned and that the board had named Chief Financial Officer Robert Swan as interim CEO. The board has begun a search for a permanent CEO, looking at both internal and external candidates.

The resignation comes after the board learned of a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee and an investigation confirmed that it violated Intel’s nonfraternization policy, which applied to all managers, the company said.

“We appreciate Brian’s many contributions to Intel,” Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said in the release. “The board believes strongly in Intel’s strategy and we’re confident in Bob Swan’s ability to lead the company as we conduct a robust search for our next CEO.”

Shares fell nearly 2 percent to $52.40 after the news.

The resignation marks an ignoble end for an executive whose chief legacy is the push to diversify one of Silicon Valley’s biggest and most powerful players. Krzanich, who took the reins five years ago after serving as the operating chief, was considered a safe pick. He steered Intel through questions about whether the company could remain dominant as the world went more mobile, investing in everything from drones to virtual reality.

Intel built the x86 chips that traditionally powered PCs, but the world was increasingly turning to smartphones that used so-called Arm chips from the likes of Qualcomm. Under Krzanich, Intel positioned itself for a fresh start with the advent of next-generation 5G wireless technology, and it has edged into the mobile world as a supplier for Apple’s iPhones.

Not all of his bets have paid off, including Intel’s hasty retreat from VR once the buzz over the technology died down.

The most recent headaches for Krzanich have come from having to deal with massive vulnerabilities (called Spectre and Meltdown) that potentially left chips from Intel, Arm and AMD open to hacking attacks. He’s long been a fixture as a CES keynote speaker, but security concerns dominated this year’s presentation.

But Krzanich will likely most be remembered for championing workplace diversity. He made it a central issue at his CES keynote address in 2015, pledging $300 million to support better representation in technology. His action was one of the boldest at a time when the noise over diversity was just starting to spike.

“This isn’t just good business,” Krzanich said in his speech. “This is the right thing to do.”

But Intel doesn’t have an obvious successor. The company has seen a slew of key executive departures over the last few years, including former CFO Stacy Smith, Diane Bryant, once the head of the data center group but now with Google, and former president, Renee James.

“Krzanich’s resignation comes at a difficult time for Intel,” Cowen analyst Matthew Ramsey said. “We fail to see a clear internal long-term successor given recent changes to senior management.”

Intel, which declined to comment further, is hoping for a smooth transition during the search for a new CEO. To reassure investors, the company said it expects to have a record second quarter with revenue of roughly $16.9 billion and earnings, excluding one-time items, of 99 cents a share, above its previous forecast. Intel will report full results on July 26.

from CNET website
BY MARRIAN ZHOU, ROGER CHENG

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Uber booking has been removed from Google Maps for Android

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Google Maps can no longer be used to book an Uber on Android. It brings the app in line with the iOS version, which lost the feature last summer, as noted by Android Police.

Google has had the ability to show price estimates and pickup wait times for ride-sharing apps for a while. Back in January 2017, Uber alone gained the ability to actually book rides in the Google Maps app by pulling up your account window and hailing your ride without ever leaving the app.

But for whatever reason, Google has officially removed the feature from the Android app, demoting Uber back to the same level as the other ride-sharing apps it supports, like Lyft and Gett. You’ll still be able to see the estimated cost of different Uber rides in Maps, but you’ll now have to go to the actual Uber app to finish the booking process.

It’s not entirely clear why Google is removing the feature. For what it’s worth, Alphabet’s venture capital business has made a large investment in Lyft. But the Google Maps help page regarding the function has been updated to explicitly note that “you can no longer book Uber rides directly in Google Maps. But you can still look up the route in the Maps app and then request the ride from the Uber app.” That applies to both the iOS and Android versions of the app, so it appears that this feature is gone for good.

 

By Chaim Gartenberg

from theverge website

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Cryptocurrencies Fall as Korean Exchange Says $32 Million of Coins Stolen

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Cryptocurrencies dropped after the second South Korean exchange in as many weeks said it was hacked, renewing concerns about the safety of digital-asset trading venues.

Bithumb, ranked by Coinmarketcap.com as the world’s seventh-largest crypto exchange by traded value, said on Wednesday that hackers stole about 35 billion won ($32 million) and that Ripple was among the coins taken. The exchange halted cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals, said it will compensate victims and moved investor assets to a so-called cold wallet, which is disconnected from the Internet and less vulnerable to theft.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, dropped as much as 2 percent and was trading at $6,624 as of 7:24 a.m. in New York, bringing this year’s decline to 54 percent, according to Bloomberg composite pricing. Ripple, Ethereum, and Litecoin also retreated, along with some Asia-listed stocks with exposure to digital currencies

Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned this year partly due to a string of cyberheists, including the nearly $500 million theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. in late January. Last week, a South Korean venue called Coinrail said that some of the exchange’s digital coins appeared to have been stolen by hackers, though it didn’t disclose how much.

While the latest theft has weighed on sentiment, investor reactions have been relatively subdued, said Ryan Rabaglia, head trader at cryptocurrency dealing firm Octagon Strategy Ltd. in Hong Kong. “The market has sort of become a bit more battle-hardened. It can weather the storm on these negative reports.”

The crypto-mania that spread worldwide last year was particularly intense in South Korea, with Bitcoin prices in the country at one point climbing to a 50 percent premium over those in America.

The fervor has since cooled amid a government crackdown, but South Korean exchanges are still among the world’s most active. The country’s policymakers are debating comprehensive regulations for cryptocurrencies, with proposals ranging from shutting down local exchanges to allowing them to operate under increased supervision.

The South Korean government said it started an investigation into the Bithumb hack and that it will review the security systems at 21 of the nation’s crypto exchanges.

The hacks in South Korea show “how ill-prepared a lot of the exchanges still are across large markets,” said Vijay Ayyar, the Singapore-based head of business development at Luno, a cryptocurrency exchange. “The overall market is seeing a lot of regulatory action and incidents like these will only hasten the process.”

from Bloomberg website

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