Purchase & Review: Parrot Wi-Fi Quadricopter AR.Drone

Posted: 30th October 2010 by beakerbuys-admin in Hardware

It’s pretty obvious that the AR.Drone brings out the kid in everyone that sees this little badass “toy.”  Everyone wants a go, and who wouldn’t — it’s the closest I’m going to get to a flying car anytime soon.

For the first 5 minutes of piloting the unit after strapping the battery in place, snapping on the body, installing the iPhone/iPad application to pilot the craft, and reading the brief “how-to” manual, it’s awesome amounts of fun.

Crashing the AR.Drone for the first 50 times is also fun after trying to figure out how to relate the iPhone’s accelerometer and trim settings to ensure you don’t decapitate the family pet.  The fact that it still works after smashing it into the ceiling, angering it into the ground or catapulting it into the couch is a testament to good design (and rotor guards.)

You might be expecting a really detailed review of the dual camera views, the augmented reality controller via the iPhone/iPhad, the self-leveling take-off and hover and the fact that for $300 or so, this is one amazing piece of technology.  Although all of these elements are true, this review’s brevity is a by-product of the fact that all this awesomesauce comes with one huge and unacceptable downside…the battery lasts about 8 minutes and takes hours to recharge.

That just sucks — and sucks the life out of enjoying the product, so much so that after the first initial flights and the demos at HacKid, nobody’s even asked to play with it since.  That’s a bummer.

It’s like buying a Ferrari and only being able to drive it 20 feet.  You may call me a cynic but that’s just not going to fly…

You can get an AR.Drone on Amazon or from Brookstone.  It’s $299.  I haven’t seen a need for extra parts, but you might want to get 2-3 more batteries 😉


  1. Hi, Beaker,

    My stepson is a RC helicopter expert and says the following about the Parrot:

    “The author isn’t the only one with mixed reviews. Why build such a nice design only to be controlled by Wi-Fi and an iPhone? As far as the battery you can’t expect much from a ready to fly kit (if your serious go out and buy a couple of good Lipos and a charger.

    “The standard quad is the Gaui: http://www.rchobbyhelicopter.com/store52/agora.cgi?product=Gaui_330X-S_Quad_Flyer_UAV_Quadcopter [Price $399]

    “It’s cheap and comes with a super stable 3 axis gyro. You can even plug in GPS modules.

    “The quad design is extremely stable and a great camera platform (there are plenty of folks using these for commercial purposes such as site surveying).”

    I notice that most commercial RC quads have 7 to 20-minute battery life, but LIPO batteries usually recharge quite quickly.