The idea of a drone you could fly around and have a bunch of fun with was a distant concept a few years ago, until Parrot released the AR.Drone and suddenly people with iPads and iPhones were flying these crazy looking things around parks and their backyards. Drones have come a long way and Parrot is back with their latest – the Bebop.
My thoughts on the original AR.Drone were that it was loads of fun, but the protective case around it would bust so easily it was a nightmare until you learned to fly it. And when you did it offered up poor quality shaky video.
Then I started flying my DJI Phantom – that’s a high-end $1200+ drone with GPS, return to home, and when you add a 3-axis gimbal you get video that is so clear and stabilised it’s ridiculous. Professional aerial video.
But the Phantom 2 can’t fly indoors (easily). The updated Phantom 3 is coming soon and will – but still, its expensive and its big – and while it’s fun for someone looking to do semi-professional video, it’s not fun for kids.
The Bebop has a 14 megapixel camera, with a fisheye-lens facing forward. Using the iPad controller you can not only control the flight but also point the camera in any direction while flying.
Like with the AR.Drone you’re getting a live feed (First person view – FPV) on your tablet or smartphone when flying.
The controls are all touch-screen with your flight height and left and right movement on the left thumb, while the rotation is controlled on the right.
What really sets the Bebop apart from the AR.Drone is the image stabilisation. There’s shock absorbers to cushion engine vibrations, and software driven 3-axis image stabilisation.
In this video – filmed off Bondi you can see the shadow of the Bebop to see how much it’s moving in the high wind.
Outdoors, high wind, Parrot Bebop drone test flight A video posted by Trevor Long (@trevorlongau) on
It took me a little while to work out that the videos were stored on the Bebop, not the pilot tablet or smartphone, but they can be transferred around to your pilot device or PC with ease.
The images are no-where near as high-quality as you’d get with a GoPro on a higher end drone.
However, when viewing them on a smaller screen, and shared on social – they are quite good. Not HD that you’re going to love on your big-screen TV, but seriously great for social sharing fun videos.
A video posted by Trevor Long (@trevorlongau) on
The battery is hard to get on and off, requiring a clip mechanism I’ve not seen on consumer tech in many years, but that’s forgivable when you consider the lightweight and small form-factor that make it the perfect personal drone.
You’ll enjoy the indoors flight experience, but in high-winds it’s a scary flight outdoors and you can’t get a high altitude to really get those awesome aerial photos and videos people are sharing online.
If you’re looking for a fun personal drone for flying around the park or backyard, this is the one.
If you can’t afford a high-end drone like a DJI Phantom, don’t confuse this as an alternative.
The Parrot Bebop Drone is available in Blue, Red and Yellow for $699.95 at Harvey Norman and Apple Stores.