Over the past several years, a revolution in aerospace has been taking place. Quadcopters or ‘Drones” have become much more accessible and easy to use. Even so, many of the good quadrocopters are $500, $1000 or even $2000 which for the average person is a huge investment. When I was looking for a Drone to buy, I wanted a solid drone, with good flight time, controls, looks and all at a good price. After much research, I ended up buying the AR. Drone 2.0. Now that I have used it for over a year, I wanted to share my experience with everyone to help anyone who’s shopping for a drone.
The drone body is made of carbon fiber, foam and plastic. It comes with two foam shells: one outdoor which doesn’t protect the rotors, and an indoor which wraps around the rotors to protect them. These are securely held by a magnet but can be easily slipped on and off when needed. Unless you drop it from a very high altitude, don’t expect it to break.
The AR drone 2.0 features two cameras: a forward facing 720p camera and a lower quality face down camera. You can record video or take shots with both through a smartphone or tablet and watch live footage from your drone on your phone. The image quality is fairly good, nothing special but good enough for most people. If you’re looking for a drone specifically for aerial photography, then you should check out our review of the DJI phantom 3 or DJI inspire.
Flying the Drone is surprisingly intuitive and there are many options on how to go about it. You can either use joysticks on the screen or the tilt of your phone to control the drone. There are many setting to control how high you can go, host fast you can go, etc. My favorite flying feature is Absolute Control which makes flying, especially when you’re a beginner very easy. In absolute control mode, the drone uses your controller as a point of reference. This means that no matter what direction the drone is facing, you just have to tilt your phone in the direction you want to go. This makes it extremely easy to fly since you don’t have to pay attention to the direction of your drone. It was thanks to this feature that my friends and I could pick up the drone and fly it easily with no prior experience. Another feature I thoroughly enjoyed and which wowed many of my friends is the flip function. When turned on, you can double tap and the drone will either do a flip while stationary or a barrel roll while flying.
The drone has an on board computer, sensors, and navigation systems to provide the drone with stability. Its advertised to be able to fly in 15 m/h winds, and while I haven’t measured the wind speeds while flying, it does a good job in the wind. Its also advertised that it “wont move an inch” unless you tell it to, in my experience, this isn’t really true though it does try and sometimes gets very close.
Like most drones on the market today, the battery life is okay. It’s advertised to get 12 minutes of flight time, I usually get 10. Charging takes around 1 hour. You can buy third party batteries and get longer flying times though. With my new Batteries I get around 20 minutes of flying time.
Unfortunately, the range is not the best. The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 generates a wifi hotspot which your phone connects to. This is now you control and communicate with the drone. This means the drone has the range of wifi which isn’t too far, around 35 yards. When the drone looses connection, it stops moving and begins to hover, so you just have to walk towards it a little and drive it back towards you. The range is probably the weakest link of this drone, but I never had to much problem with it since I don’t like flying it super far anyway.
For some reason, the drone works better in some areas better than others. I have flown mine in parks, streets and the wilderness and the Parrot by far works the best in the wilderness. I have nearly perfect control and its just a blast flying it around, weaving through trees, flying low to kick dust up. On the other hand, I’ve tried flying it on a hot day in Sacramento over concrete and I had much less control. Im not sure why, maybe there’s more interference in urban environments, but if you get the drone and seem to not have good control, try flying somewhere else.
Also, always click flat trim before taking off, and let the drone hover for 10 seconds before moving it. This results in better control.
Overall, the parrot is a great middle ground drone, its not a toy but its also not a professional photography drone either. If you have the money and are looking for a drone, you should defiantly consider the Ar drone 2.0.