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Customer Review

789 of 822 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flying Fun that needs a few accessories, May 1, 2012
This review is from: Parrot AR Drone Quadricopter, 2.0 Edition, Orange/Blue (Wireless Phone Accessory)
I previously owned an RC airplane and flew (and crashed) it until it could no longer be repaired. Ever since then I was itching to get back to the skies. When the first gen AR Drone came out I was interested but hesitated. With the improvements made in the AR Drone 2.0 I am thrilled and have been flying whenever I get a chance. My unit arrived fully functional, it was recognized by my iPad immediately (after charging/installing the Drone's battery) and I was up and flying quickly.

This unit is a pleasure to fly and much different than my RC plane. You need a much smaller area for one so heading out into the neighborhood (vs a large flight field) means you can fly at a moments notice. Because of its features (e.g. hovers, user-defined flight ceilings) mistakes are more preventable. Also, because of its relatively easy to learn flight controls you can start having fun immediately, my RC plane had a pretty high learning curve and I spent more time fixing and tweaking than in the air. I'd say for someone who is a beginner to moderate level RC enthusiast who will go for a flight every so often this is the perfect kind of device. For someone who is looking for a more aggressive flying experience there may be better options.

Overall, the unit seems to strike an excellent balance between weight (be as light as possible) and durability (be as protective as possible) that is inherent in any flying device. Couple that balance with all the tech that is crammed into this thing helping to prevent mistakes, the fun of having a live camera feed to user-controlled drone, and it's no wonder that I have a big grin on my face whenever I'm flying it.

PROS
1. Easy set up for flight (<1 min)
2. Easy to pick up and fly (although mastery will take practice).
3. Very stable in the air even in light winds; easy take off and landing features; emergency cutoff, flight lights all make this very easy to fly.
4. Can be easily flown in relatively small spaces (even indoors, try that with an RC plane-not).
5. Forward facing camera is quite good for video, passable for stills.
6. Parts readily available (and I've had a few crashes where that was important).
7. Easy video recording to my iPad (using the 3rd gen iPad BTW) and simple importing to iPhoto or iMovie for editing.
8. Lots of tweakable preferences in the control app for flight ceiling, rate of ascent, tilt, etc. This means as I get more comfortable flying I can change parameters to be more aggressive (or less if someone new wants to try).
9. Reality enhancement games are pretty cool that use the onboard camera.
10. Nice box for storage of unit when not in use (Adding a little compartment for batteries and what not would have been a nice touch)
11. Future App support (at least in theory) allows you to upgrade capabilities over time. RC planes have dedicated devices that aren't typically upgradeable. Plus the app is free!

CONS
1. Stock battery life is very short (6-8 min) after a 90+ min charge Extra battery recommendation: This 1300mAh battery and charger will give you 15-20 min worth of flight time and requires <1hour to charge. Items can be found on amazon.com. Bastens LiPo battery upgrade for the Parrot AR.Drone. Fast LiPo Battery Balance Charger - 40 Watt - 4.5 Amp - 1 2 3 or 4 cell batteries
2. Bottom camera resolution is pretty awful (Draw a picture with a crayon, that is the resolution of the bottom camera).
3. I agree with the other reviewer that the angle of the front facing camera should point down a bit more. I find myself having to compensate for the lack of downward angle by increasing the speed of the device or flying way back (neither of which work in every setting). Having a little allen wrench adjustment on the lense would be a great feature that you could customize depending on your need.
4. Would like the indoor and outdoor hulls to "clip on" during flight. I use a small piece of Velcro for this currently.
5. Would like the design to protect the gears at the ends of the cross. I crashed into a tree, the motors cut out and the plastic gear hit the pavement which ground down some gear teeth. A slight lip, bumper or cowl that surrounds those external gears might go a long way toward preventing the gear from coming into contact with hard objects.
6. One limitation of the quadcopter design is that you won't be doing tons of aerial acrobatics but that is the nature of this design. Although the double-tap to flip feature is pretty cool!
7. When it says "low battery warning" it means "land that sucker RIGHT NOW", it's a matter of seconds before the auto-cutoff kicks in so don't have it over a lake.
8. Cost. Once you get a device to control the drone, pick up some spare parts, and invest in longer lasting batteries and chargers you can easily invest a large chunk of change. That said any kind of decent RC device that flies is decidedly NOT cheap, you do get what you pay for.
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 18, 2012 1:35:05 PM PDT
esanta says:
Thanks for the great review! Is this the charger you mention? Fast LiPo Battery Balance Charger

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012 2:01:51 PM PDT
Yes, that is the same charger I purchased. It works great.

Posted on May 22, 2012 7:51:56 PM PDT
maskirovka says:
Does the drone take still photos as well?

In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2012 7:54:36 PM PDT
The bottom camera is awful for stills or video. The front camera produces adequate stills but is really intended for video.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:38:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 30, 2015 10:04:42 AM PDT
Bastens says:
Thanks for the mention of our battery and charger upgrade. We now offer the battery and charger together at a discount:

BASTENS LiPo battery 1300mAh battery upgrade and balance charger for the Parrot AR Drone 1 & 2 type batteries

Battery only:
Bastens LiPo battery upgrade for the Parrot AR.Drone - will work with 2.0 aircraft but not the 2.0 charger

Why would you need to both buy the battery upgrade and the charger upgrade?
Let me explain further. AR.Drone changed their battery system when going from the 1.0 to the 2.0. Back with the AR.Drone 1.0 the battery and charger use the same typical balance port the rest of the RC world uses. It's a small plug that has 4 connections (search the internet for 'LiPo balance plug' and you will see what I mean). But then they changed it to a proprietary system with the new 2.0 version ... yes this means you cannot even mix batteries from the 2.0 with the 1.0, so in a sense they shot themselves in the foot :) The result of this mess is you need to buy both a battery upgrade and the charger together if you have the new AR.Drone2.0.

As an added bonus when you buy the upgrade battery and charger combo you get the benefit of faster charge times because of the fact that the charger upgrade can charge at a higher amp rate.

Best Regards,
Bastens Customer Service

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 8:52:09 PM PDT
Good review-- I received mine last week. Three slight variants of my experience to your review:

1) I am getting a little more than ten-minute flights, every time. I have about two hours of total flight time over a a dozen flights upon which to base that.

Some of that flight time is in my bedroom (it was raining outside!).

2) While there is no latch, my shell does appear to have hidden magnets which "snap" the shell in place.

3) Once the "low battery" warning began to flash, I flew it from the sideline of a football field, to the center of the field, and then hovered my drone over my head (and, dang-it! my bald-spot is more prominent than I ever knew!), ready to catch it, waiting for the automatic shut-off after the low battery warning, and instead of cutting off, it simply landed itself-- as if I had pressed the landing button. It was at least a minute, probably two, of additional flight.

I will add that my videos, taken from an on-board USB drive I inserted, are of much higher quality in native form than what I see after uploading that to YouTube. I have noticed a couple of reviews commenting on the mediocre quality of the primary camera-- but suspect those are being based upon a review of the degraded uploaded versions.

My secondary/landing camera is not quite so bad as a crayon picture (ha!) but is really only functional for assisting in landing-- the images are too grainy for any other use.

Finally: I, too, have experience with flying and crashing R/C airplanes. This is far easier-- and I have, so far, not incurred any damage despite a few fairly dramatic pilot errors (how I wish I had the video of the battle between my drone and my table lamp which was so fierce that I set the iPad down and rushed over to break it up before one of them got hurt!).

I love this thing. Five stars from me-- because it meets or exceeds all my researched expectations.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2013 1:35:41 AM PDT
Excellent comments. It is entirely possible that later versions of the battery have an improved charge lifetime (or perhaps I got one at the lower end of the spectrum). In the end I love my AR Drone 2.0 and recommend it to anyone interested in RC flying. Since my purchase I have 2 friends who have bought their own AR Drones and are happily flying as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2013 1:36:30 AM PDT
Excellent comments. It is entirely possible that later versions of the battery have an improved charge lifetime (or perhaps I got one at the lower end of the spectrum). In the end I love my AR Drone 2.0 and recommend it to anyone interested in RC flying. Since my purchase I have 2 friends who have bought their own AR Drones and are happily flying as well.

Posted on Apr 30, 2013 9:05:22 AM PDT
MB says:
What is your reaction to the now crippled software to fly it?

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2013 3:39:41 AM PDT
I had never tried to use that "Absolute Control" feature, although I had that ability for about a month prior to it being removed due to a patent issue (still unresolved as I write). As a result, I did not miss it. The idea was that tilting to control would send the drone in the direction of the tilt-- relative to the user.

I prefer control which is relative to the Drone (e.g., tilt forward, the Drone goes forward; tilt left, and the Drone goes to its left) just as all other remote controlled craft use, and the present software does that quite well.

I believe the other was marketed, chiefly, as a "beginner's mode," and yet I thought it would complicate the transition to the more traditional method which I continue to use.

I would much prefer to see a new software release that will automate coordinated turns (synchronized roll and yaw), which would make use of the hardware's capabilities in a more sophisticated way. That is the tough part for any beginner.
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