The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite is made by a French company with a long history in the wireless technology segment. It incorporates a number of advanced features not seen on other drones, which includes a self-generating Wi-Fi hotspot from an onboard GNU-powered open-source computer unit. Parrot promises that all this advanced technology makes this drone of the most stable drones on the market. These are sufficient reasons to make us want to write a Parrot AR drone review.
The original Parrot AR.Drone came out in 2010 and they released the first 2.0 model in 2012. We wondered if all this time spent working on it made a superior product, so we took a look at hardware specifications and user reviews to see just how powerful a drone this really is.
Parrot AR Drone Main Specs
|Camera Resolution||Weight||Ideal for (Indoor/Outdoor/Both)||Flight Time||Control type||Amazon Rating||Our Rating|
|720p video||0.83 lbs.||Indoor & Outdoor||11 mins. stock, 20 mins. with additional battery||Free Flight App||3.5 stars||4 stars|
Our Parrot AR drone review will focus on some technical parts first.
Parrot Elite quadcopters include a specialized 32-bit ARM Cortex A8 microchip that boasts a 1 GHz clock speed. This processor is coupled to a dedicated 800 MHz TMS320DMC64x video DSP chip and a 1 GB block of 200 MHz DDR2 RAM. It’s basically got the same stats as many netbook computers, which gives it the ability to process video in real time without any delays. Few other drones come with this kind of hardware.
Perhaps due to stability issues, the onboard computer unit doesn’t run a modern distribution of Linux. It instead uses the older 2.6.32 kernel core. Pilots won’t have to worry about this advanced flight and video processing system, though. Parrot’s software developers took care of the coding and installation. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to think about this being an open-source project.
Flying the Parrot AR Drone
You’ll need to calibrate the drone the first time you fly it to make sure it doesn’t sway around aimlessly. Try hovering it in a windless room at first. Make sure that you’re not holding down the button on your mobile device that’s mapped to rotational movement. It’s possible to move a rotationally-aware mobile device and spin the drone.
Once you’re sure you’ve done so, you’ll then want to check for a good GPS signal. As soon as you’ve done both these steps you should be able to fly it outside without any real issues. GPS signals are much stronger outside than inside in most regions.
Parrot AR Drone Remote Control & Accessories
Parrot’s designers completely eschewed remote control devices and decided to rely on their extensive experience in the field of wireless technology to develop mobile apps that control their drones. We were aware of this fact when we started researching for this Parrot AR drone review. But no fear: you can install the Parrot Free Flight piloting app on nearly any modern iOS or Android device. Once done, you can use this as your sole controller. If you have a rotationally-aware phone, then you can reposition it as though it were a physical joystick.
Unix hackers and other software hobbyists have come up with their own unofficial software for other platforms. Their software seems to work quite well. Experimental apps for Samsung BADA and Symbian devices have ensured that older phones can serve as AR.Drone 2.0 joysticks. The unofficial apps for Windows Phone have some good reviews as well.
Normal Parrot AR Drone kits come with:
- 1x Lithium battery
- 4x Propellers
- USB 2.0 Cable
- Drone Body
- Attachment Tool
While the Parrot AR Drone only comes with a single battery, it’s possible to install a larger one and thus expand the lifespan by almost double. This makes longer flights much more practical.
Parrot AR Drone – Our Verdict
What We Like
While testing this UAV for the Parrot AR drone review, we loved that the Parrot AR drone was made with experimenters in mind. If you at all like to experiment with software or want to play around with different technology settings, then the AR.Drone 2.0 is for you. You may want to try making your own hardware adjustments or fooling around with the advanced video programs that come with the app. It’s certainly not a drone that you’ll get bored with quickly.
What We Don’t Like
You’ll more than likely have to register this drone with the FAA because of its size. Pilots in certain jurisdictions might find that they have other restrictions levied on them. The short battery life is a problem, though you can always order the second larger battery if you find that your flights are consistently getting cut short.
What Users Say
User’s experience was an important criterion which we kept in mind while writing the Parrot AR drone review.
One fortunate user had a good time experimenting with different types of camera equipment and batteries, which is totally in keeping with the market this drone was aimed at. Quality control seems to be an issue, however, and some users struggle with how limited the Wi-Fi connections really are. Fortunately, even those with problems related to Wi-Fi still seem to have a good time flying the AR.Drone in spite of them.
While the Wi-Fi connection might seem like a gimmick and could limit the total distance of your flight, it’s not hard to recommend the Parrot AR Elite to anyone who wants to really play around with their equipment. You can replace the batteries and camera easily enough that you should be able to fix most of the shortcomings you’ll run into when using it. Of course, if you think that this drone is way too complex for your needs, here is our Syma X5C drone review.
So, if you have any experience flying the AR Elite or would like to ask our experts any questions, then we invite you to get in touch.