First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter
Parrot's AR.Drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that uses Wi-Fi technology to connect to an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
- It's a flying quadricopter controlled via an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad, straightforward setup, easy to control for stable flight indoors
- Almost impossible to control with any accuracy outdoors with even slight wind, 12 minute battery life, expensive price, questionable build quality considering it does fly, and therefore crash from time to time
The Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter is a toy packed with technology that is surprisingly stable and intuitive to fly. Yes, the Parrot AR.Drone is expensive, has mediocre battery life and becomes an out of control missile if used with any sort of wind. It also could be better equipped to deal with accidents. At the end of the day, this is a remote control chopper that you fly using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. And it's pretty damn cool.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Today's forecast: wind
In addition to indoor flying, Parrot claims the AR.Drone is usable outdoors with winds up to 16kmph. Let's get one thing straight; you will want to pick a day with virtually no wind to fly without any issues, as the AR.Drone is anything but stable with even minor wind. We attempted to fly it in a park, where out flight was protected by the surrounding trees and bushes, and let's say we experienced quite a few accidents. The AR.Drone also strayed from its usual straight flight path as it left the ground, making it very tough to control with any sort of accuracy or confidence.
The Parrot AR.Drone has been designed to fly outdoors, but it doesn't take too kindly to even light winds.
Even though the AR.Drone's light, foam build helps it fly smoothly, it means the build quality does suffer. Wear and tear on the indoor hull was apparent after just a few flights, with the foam chipping and cracking in various parts. However, the body of the AR.Drone itself — constructed from carbon fibre and what Parrot describes as "high resistance" plastic — seemed to handle the elements relatively well. All the replacement parts can be purchased separately.
Now, that battery…
Unfortunately, the battery life of the AR.Drone simply sucks. The included Lithium-ion battery gives you just 12 minutes of flying time before needing to be recharged for an hour and a half. You can always purchase a second battery, but this would still only provide 24 minutes of flying time; hardly enough for a very expensive toy that you'll want to be using as much as possible.
Parrot includes two interchangeable hulls in the sales package; the first is for indoors and protects the blades from crashes thanks to large, circular rings, while the second is for outdoor flying and leaves the blades exposed. The indoor hull definitely looks more impressive, but is not recommended for outdoor use.
The Parrot AR.Drone comes with two hulls, the above is for indoor use and protects the blades from crashes.
The Parrot AR.Drone is available in Australia for $349, and will be sold exclusively through selected Telstra and Fone Zone stores.
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