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Hands On: Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition

Occasionally, we get sent some great mobile related toys to play with instead of mobile phones, and today we’ve got one of those items.

It’s the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition, a much bigger brother to the MiniDrone Rolling Spider that we’ve previously reviewed.

Let’s take a closer look at this exciting smartphone controlled drone.

What’s In The Box?

In addition to the AR.Drone 2.0, there’s also the indoor shield (pictured on the device), a slimmer outdoor shield which is basically the same as the centre component, two 1500 mAh batteries that allow you to pilot the drone for up to 36 minutes each, a wall charger and three sets of replacement blades in different colours.

First Impressions

After unboxing the review unit, I then downloaded the Parrot FreeFlight app, charged the battery and then stepped outside to fly the drone.

Unlike the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy connection that was used to control the Parrot MiniDrone, the AR.Drone 2.0 broadcasts its own WiFi network that you must connect to in order to control the drone.

This allows it to stream full 720p HD video to your phone or tablet so that you can see where you’re flying, as well as allowing you to control the drone over a much larger 50 metre distance.

The unit also has a USB port on it that you can use to connect up a flash drive to record your flight videos or a GPS logger to help you track where you’ve flown.

Flying the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

Much like it’s little brother, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 has a very similar set of controls – the controller on the right hand of the screen is used to adjust flight height and to spin the direction of the drone, and the left controller responds to the tilt sensors in your phone – just hold down the button and tilt the phone in the direction you want to fly it.

It also features auto stabilisers as well to help make it easy to fly the drone if you’re new to it, as well as automated one touch take off and landing functions from within the app.

The connection over the private WiFi network broadcast by the AR.Drone 2.0 is exceptionally fast and responsive, so there’s no need to worry about lagging causing your command to be received just a few moments too late.

While you can fly the drone by watching the live video feed, I tended to mainly watch the drone itself and then occasionally would look down to see the view that it had.

When flying it outdoors with the indoor shield attached, the unit was a lot more likely to catch a gust of wind and find itself momentarily off balance before it regained its stability and could continue.

Summary

Overall, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition was a lot of fun to fly, especially as a novice drone pilot.

It would probably be a little too noisy and therefore intrusive if you wanted to catch your own aerial fly through video shoots at a private event, however I could see a lot of potential uses for being able to cheaply take aerial footage from a unit like this.

The AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition retails for AU$499 and is available from Harvey Norman, Dick Smith and the Apple Store.

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