01.Parrot AR. Drone 2.0
Price: $349 (extra batteries are $49.95 each)
If you are concerned about a remote control flying device with an in-built high definition camera being a temptation to those who may use it for anti-social activities, you can rest assured that the AR.Drone 2.0 is unlikely to be much more than an annoyance. That said – it’s also fun.
Control and share via your mobile device
The device is controlled via an app on your Apple/Android smartphone, or tablet and a wireless connection. The controls are pretty simple to use and you can see where the drone is going because the image from its cameras are visible on your control device. There are two cameras; one high definition and forward facing, the other points down and is at a much lower resolution.
You are encouraged on the AR. Drone website to record and share your flights, with connections to Facebook and YouTube to help make this simple. In addition there are games and activities that help transport the pilot to virtual worlds, where there’s the opportunity for more competition and social interaction.
The AR.Drone 2.0 is reasonably stable in still air, but will wander about a bit in a breeze and there’s a warning to pay careful attention when flying at any altitude because wind speeds will vary. In our tests a full battery lasted around ten and a half minutes indoors and outdoors.
Picture quality from the front facing HD camera isn’t as good a relatively cheap compact camera, but is sufficient for seeing where you’re going and sharing with other Drone fans. You can record to a USB stick as well as directly to your control device.
It’s not particularly noisy, but will draw attention to itself in built-up areas . It comes with a soft protective indoors hull, as well as an outdoors hull that leaves the plastic rotors uncovered. Some care should be taken when flying in this mode because the rotors could do serious damage to eyes.
It’s fun to fly and a good deal less smelly and noisy than model airplanes of the past. The sharing factor is important and adds a new dimension, but battery life is a limitation and at $49.95 each they will add substantially to the cost.
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