HomeSouth African parents, children dream of a drone under the Christmas tree

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Juliette Saunders
CeBIT 2015 Technology Trade Fair

A stand host holds a QH micro quadcopter drone by Chinese manufacturer Lian Sheng at the 2015 CeBIT technology trade fair on March 16, 2015 in Hanover, Germany.

This is according to pre-Christmas trends as analysed by bidorbuy. Traditionally; online shoppers start their holiday shopping earlier than “regular” shoppers‚ usually at the beginning of November.

“The term drone is now among the ten most frequent searches on the site‚ shoulder-to-shoulder with watches‚ smartphones‚ laptops‚ tablets‚ consoles‚ games‚ toys and hobbies‚” says bidorbuy CEO Jaco Jonker.

Would-be buyers of drones need to know that this gadget is not for cheapskates.

If you want a drone to satisfy video or photographer fans around the Christmas tree‚ be sure to look for one that delivers decent quality footage and integrates easily with the monitor or smartphone they have at home.

The most affordable‚ decent-quality offering recommended by technology website Techradar.com is the DJI’s Phantom 3 series‚ which starts at R15‚395 in South Africa.

In the toys and hobbies section‚ bidorbuy’s most popular searches are for Lego‚ Marklin railway models – and drones.

Internationally‚ Walkera’s Dragonfly priced between R2‚000 to R7‚000 is one of the drones recommended for kids due to its GPS autopilot and up to 15 minutes flight time. Another offering is the Parrot‚ which retails around the R4‚000 mark. When price-checking any of the drones‚ find out if you will need to buy the controller separately.

Charlie Hoff from Cape Town-based droneworld.co.za says the Phantom 3 is the top-selling drone locally.

“No other drone comes close. The Phantom 3 is 95% of the queries we receive‚” she said.

Prices soar to over the R100‚000 mark for many other makes. To make up for the price tag‚ hopefully the drone enthusiast you’re buying it for will be able to film something that brings a smile to your Christmas revellers‚ or astonishes in its artistry.

While South Africa has restrictions on the commercial use of drones‚ smaller ones flown by hobbyists are legal‚ according to http://www.safedrone.co.za/new-caa-regulations-simplified and http://dronecrew.co.za/legal. However‚ the Civil Aviation Authority (www.caa.co.za) states they may not be operated above or within 50m of people‚ 50m of buildings‚ 50m of roads‚ or 10km of airports. National keypoints are an absolute no-no.

Elaborating on the trend‚ Jonker said: “The drones made their way into the top searches almost a year ago‚ and are still safely holding their position on the list of most searched terms on bidorbuy”.

“Wearable tech devices such as smartwatches‚ especially Apple Watch‚ GoPro miniature attachable cameras‚ as well as health and fitness monitors are also enjoying undiminished popularity.”

However‚ selfie sticks‚ which were extremely popular last season‚ seem to have fallen out of public’s favour. These days‚ they cannot be found even among the top hundred.

The bidorbuy CEO says that iPhone wins hands down among smartphones‚ with the majority of searches going specifically for the iPhone 6s. Visitors to bidorbuy are about four times less likely to search for a Samsung smartphone; however‚ when it comes to actually buying‚ the two best known smartphone brands are on par.

In gaming‚ Xbox One and Playstation 4 enjoy equal popularity.

Currently‚ Fallout 4 leads the video game searches‚ closely followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops 3‚ Halo 5 and Fifa 16.

Bidorbuy added that a substantial number of visitors are also searching for big-ticket items such as television sets‚ fridges‚ air conditioners and‚ increasingly‚ 3D printers.