At £770, the Parrot Bebop drone with Skycontroller isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s one of the most versatile, and indeed fun, drones you can currently get your hands on. So get out hands on, we did. Sorry, that sounded like Yoda.
Though the word drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle as they're technically known, usually conjures up images of war and unpleasantness, consumer drones are anything but negative – they’re tonnes of fun. Toy drones have exploded in popularity in the last few years, partly because they’re much easier to fly nowadays, but also because capturing action footage has become a part of everyday life, and drones make doing this easy, not to mention spectacular.
Parrot’s Bebop Drone has a 1080p video camera, can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet and the optional Skycontroller means you can turn the Bebop into a full-on Top Gun-style experience.
Each of T3’s lucky invitees had access to a crash-course 20 minutes flying time, so which of them shouted out ‘You can be my wingman!’ and who crashed and burned? Only one way to find out…
Reader one: Darren Price
Occupation: Web/Graphic designer
Liked: The controller is nicely weighted, and made me feel like I was in charge of something really big. The speed and the agility of the drone is excellent; even at a distance it responds extremely quickly to your inputs.
Disliked: The battery life was poor – understandable – but would require further investment in a cache of batteries.
Verdict: The Bebop is a great piece of kit, only let down by battery life and the app. It feels good from the moment you fire it up, and even a novice can get it up and into the air.
Reader two: Paul Dodd
Occupation: Administration manager
Liked: I already own the Parrot Jumping Sumo and Rolling Spider, but this feels much more stable, even when the wind gets strong, and the Skycontroller makes it much easier to pick up and play. I love the range too.
Disliked: Parrot’s smaller drones are quite affordable, but the Bebop is big money and the Skycontroller is almost as expensive.
Verdict: This is a serious investment, so I think you need to have a really good reason to buy it. The only thing I think it really needs is LEDs on the bottom to tell you which way it’s facing.
Reader three: Zac Carr
Occupation: Law student
Liked: The Bebop is really easy to fly – the built-in gyro system prevents you from crashing it. The smartphone compatibility is handy because you can see exactly where you’re going.
Disliked: A battery life of around 10 minutes per charge isn’t great, though all of the drones I’ve tried have been like this.
Verdict: It’s really entertaining, at least for the first couple of hours, but after that I’m not sure what purpose it has. Maybe some built-in games would help?
Reader four: Douglas Wiles
Occupation: Assistant manager
Liked: It flies really smoothly, even when there’s quite a bit of wind and the range is seriously impressive. Parrot has also made it smaller than I imagined.
Disliked: There are connectivity issues whenever you need to change the battery, which gets annoying after a while.
Verdict: The Bebop is lots of fun, but is it really worth the asking price? Personally, I wouldn’t go for it. The constant WiFi issues are a frustration and the lag on the smartphone feed dents the whole experience.
Reader five: Chris Barnes
Occupation: Music journalist
Liked: The Bebop took no time to master and, because of the instant feedback from the controls, it was extremely easy to avoid any drone hits tree/ground/face situations.
Disliked: Keeping track of it is tricky, and the glare on the phone screen made it difficult to use the live feed.
Verdict: It’s easy to get the hang of the Bebop once it’s in the air, and it’s a lot of fun. The battery life is restrictive unless you invest in a few backups. I still want one though!
Reader six: Rob Carr
Occupation: Motorcycle courier
Liked: It’s great being able to take off and hover with the press of a button, instantly masking any lack of skill and giving you confidence, and the Skycontroller makes it easy to use once in the air.
Disliked: It’s to be expected, but if you want a good session you’ll need a lot of backup batteries.
Verdict: Although its great fun, I think you could tire of it quickly unless you either found a real purpose for it or played games like obstacle courses or challenges with your mates.
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