While The Tech Buyer's Guru started back in 2013 with a focus on PCs, that doesn't mean we don't have a bit to say about a whole lot of other tech. So we've put together this concise guide to "RC", including radio-controlled drones and cars (which at this point really means trucks), for all our readers who want to get outside with their tech!

We've broken the guide down into four categories. Given that drones are all the rage, we start with our top two drone picks, both from DJI, the clear market leader. While there are countless copies out there vying for your hard-earned dollars, we recommend that if you'd like to enter the hobby and actualy stick with it, you avoid all the $100 and $200 kits out there. DJI's premium drones will have you flying in no time, and will keep you flying for a long time to come!

We then cover our top three picks for ready-to-run (RTR) car and truck combo kits. When we say "combo", we mean you get everything you need in the box, including battery and charger. These include a 1/18-scale and two 1/10-scale models, starting at $130.


Next, we have four "premium" truck picks, including the stunning Traxxas Ford Bronco scale crawler you see here. These models come ready to run out of the box with a transmitter, but do not include batteries or chargers. The advantage to this type of setup is that you get to pick your own, which means you'll be getting much better gear that charges faster and runs harder!

Finally, we have the battery and charging accessories you'll need for the premium models. These models all run on lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries, which provide far greater capacity and consistency than standard nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries used in lower-cost vehicles, but require more advanced chargers. Note that most of these models also have high-end "brushless" motors, which run faster and are more durable than standard "brushed" motors, which have physical brushes sending power to the motor's commutator.

Prices shown in this guide use Amazon's real-time pricing engine, so they are always up-to-date. If you decide to purchase one of the cards we profile, please use the links we provide, which helps support continued development of this guide.

Radio Controlled Vehicles - Spring 2018

    The Drone for Everyone:

    DJI Spark Fly More Combo

    DJI shocked the drone world when it announced the Spark at $500, as it had never really targeted the "mid-range" market before. In our opinion, however, enthusiasts will want to skip right past the $500 offering and go for the "Fly More" combo at $700, which includes a controller. Yes, you can control this drone via your phone or even via gestures, but serious flyers will want two sticks to get them around!

    The Guru's Tip:

    All the equipment you'll need is included in the Fly More combo, including propeller guards, a second battery, and yes, the all-important controller!

    The High-End Drone:

    DJI Mavic Air, Fly More Combo

    As a cheaper, and in some ways better follow-up to the Mavic Pro, the Mavic Air offers all of the Pro's advantages in an even smaller package. It can capture 4K video and 12MP photos, it has a 3-Axis gimbal-stabilized camera (which the Spark does  not), and it uses both GPS & vision-based navigation. It has an incredible top speed of 43mph in sport mode (not recommended for regular use!), can actively track subjects, and runs 21 minutes, which is slightly under the 27 minutes of the Pro, but well worth the trade-off for getting such a small drone (under 1 pound!).

    The Guru's Tip:

    As with the Spark, you really do want to get the Fly More combo, as the added cost is well worth it, and you'll want the accessories it comes with.

    1/18-Scale 4WD Mini-Truck:

    Dromida Short Course Truck RTR Combo

    This is the perfect starting point for anyone (and specifically younger enthusiasts) just getting into RC. This small car is just over one pound and 11" long, meaning it's quite portable, fitting easily into a backpack. Offering a four-wheel-drive platform, it's ultra-stable, which will make it a lot more satisfying for new users to control than the typical 2WD vehicle you'll find at toy stores. Plus, it will be plenty fast without veering into extreme territory. Yes, you can buy expensive "souped-up" 1/18-scale cars, but they are too fast for their platforms, as even cracks in the pavement will send them flying. This little wonder will easily tackle the driveway and short grass in style!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This package comes with everything you need, including a transmitter, battery, and charger, plus 4 AA batteries for the transmitter!

    1/10-Scale 2WD Truck:

    Arrma Fazon Voltage Speed Truck RTR Combo

    Welcome to the new standard-bearer for what you can get at under $150. The Fazon Voltage is a two-wheel-drive truck modeled after classic race-bred "stadium trucks". It's fast, maneuverable, and highly-affordable. While you can find "monster trucks" in this price class, we strongly prefer this style of race truck, as it's faster on-road, and to really tackle serious off-road conditions, you need a more powereful four-wheel-drive model, like the one below.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This package comes with everything you need, including a transmitter, battery, and charger. Just add four AA batteries and go! To bring the price down so low, Arrma uses individual 18650 1500MAh lithium-ion batteries, and while the kit comes with two, you can add four more for a total of 6 in your vehicle to get nearly 30 minutes of run time! Note that it can also use standard NIMH and LiPo RC-specific packs.

    1/10-Scale 4WD Truck:

    Arrma Senton 4x4 Short Course Truck RTR Combo

    Arrma has established itself as the most innovative manufacturer of radio-controlled cars and trucks on the market. Rather that rest on its laurels and market the same product for 20 years, like one of its big-name competitors, Arrma refreshes its products on a regular basis, and this brand-new model is simply smashing expectations of what buyers can get for under $250. The Senton is a true 4WD truck, which means it can really handle the roughest terrain, unlike all the two-wheel-drive trucks on the market!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This package comes with everything you need, including a transmitter, battery, and charger. Just add four AA batteries and go!

    1/10 Scale 4WD Brushless Monster Truck:

    Team Redcat TR-MT10E

    The MT10E has revolutionized the RC Monster Truck class with its awesome combination of style, power, and durability. With a potent 4400kV brushless motor, 4WD drivetrain, and huge, grippy tires, this monster truck can tackle any terrain, yet it still handles well enough to take a fast turn without flipping, which is more than we can say for many monster trucks out there. It even has LED headlights! There's just no question that the MT10E is currently among the very best brushless 1/10-scale monster trucks on the market, and most certainly the best value!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This kit includes the truck and transmitter, but you'll need to budget an extra $125 for a LiPo battery pack and charger, which we recommend later in this guide.

    1/10 Scale 4WD Car Crusher:

    Axial AX90055 SMT10

    There are a lot of so-called "monster trucks" out there, but if you want a truck with true car-crushing power, this is the one for you. With gigantic tires, solid axles, a durable 4WD drivetrain tuned for torque, and a licensed scale replica of the famous Grave Digger car crusher, this monster truck will bring a smile to everyone's face.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This kit includes the truck and transmitter, but you'll need to budget an extra $125 for a LiPo battery pack and charger, which we recommend later in this guide.

    2S LiPo w/ Deans Connector:

    Gens Ace 5000mAh 50C 2S 7.4V LiPo

    This is the battery we recommend for the Team Redcat and Axial models above, which don't include a battery in the box, or as an upgrade to the packs included with the Arrma 1/10-scale Fazon and Senton. Gens Ace has some secret sauce that makes their well-priced LiPo packs go like none other, and this 5000mAh 50C 2S pack is both a great performer and a fantastic bargain.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To properly charge this battery, you'll need a LiPo-compatible charger (scroll down for our recommendation), and you'll always want to use the balanced charge option, which individually charges the cells in the pack for greater performance and safety.

    The Ultimate 1/10-Scale Crawler:

    Traxxas TRX-4 Ford Bronco

    Sometimes a company takes an existing concept and simply makes it better. That's the TRX-4 from Traxxas, and specifically the beautiful scale Ford Bronco. This is the one, folks. If you want to get into scaling crawling, the fastest-growing segment of the RC market, then just start with the best. You get high-clearance portal axles, two-speed drivetrain, and oh, that body!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model does not come with a battery or charger, and because Traxxas uses a propietary battery connector, you'll want to make sure to get the $100 Traxxas Battery and Charger combo for this vehicle.

    1/8 Scale 4WD Brushless Monster Truck:

    Arrma Outcast 4WD Monster Truck

    Welcome to the world of serious big-scale monster trucks! At nearly 21" long and around 12 pounds loaded up with batteries, this is a true beast. With a powerful 4WD platform, you can go off road, perform intense tricks, or just have fun out on the street. It offers all the bashability, speed, and upgrades you could want!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The Outcast probably isn't the vehicle we'd recommend to a first-timer, but it might just be the last RC truck you'll ever need. Just keep in mind that it requires at least one LiPo battery with an XT90 connector to run, which we recommend below.

    3S LiPo Pack w/ XT90 Connector:

    Duratrax LiPo Onyx 3S 11.1V 5000mAh 35C XT90

    This is the battery you'll want to start with if you're going with Arrma's 1/8-scale Outcast. It's are designed to run either one or two packs together, and we suggest you start with a single 3S pack, see if it's fast enough for you, and if you need more power, just add a second pack for extreme speeds (as in over 50mph!). One 3S pack puts out 11.1V, while two together offer a shocking 22.2V of ground-pounding power!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the XT90 connectors used by this pack are for Arrma 1/8-scale models only, and are not compatible with the Deans-style connectors used by 1/10-scale vehicles from Arrma, Axial, or Team Redcat.


    Venom Pro Duo 80W X2 Dual Charger

    Why buy one charger when you can have two packed into a single box? That's what you get with the awesome Venom Pro Duo, which has enough power to charge two batteries simultaneously at 7 Amps, making it more than powerful enough for any of the vehicles recommended in this guide. And with two "balance boards" in the box, you can properly charge two LiPo batteries simultaneously. It even includes a huge assortment of adapters, including the Deans-style connector you'll need if you're running any of the 1/10-scale vehicles listed in this guide. Want to charge two Deans-type batteries at once? Simply pick up a second Deans charging lead!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that if you'll be running dual XT90 packs for Arrma 1/8-scale vehicles, you'll need to pick up two XT90 banana plug charging adapters, as the Venom doesn't include them in the box.

    LiPo Charging Bag:

    Apex RC Large Lipo Battery Bag

    Anyone using Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries would be well-advised to invest in this fireproof bag. If you've followed the tech news over the past few years, you probably know there have been more than a few problems with lithium batteries in smartphones, and the high-capacity batteries in RC vehicles are even more potent, so taking precautions when charging and storing them is the right thing to do.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This bag is large enough to fit three standard-sized LiPo batteries.