Hands On With Parrot's AR Drone 2.0

The original AR Drone was a great novelty gadget; does the version two model iron out some of the kinks? I went hands-on with Parrot's unique quadracopter. For those of you who just want the specifications — some of which we've covered back when the AR Drone 2.0 was initially announced http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/01/ar-drone-2-0-the-best-flying-toy-just-got-better/ — the AR Drone 2.0 will go on sale in June through the same outlets currently selling the first generation model; that's stores such as Dick Smith Electronics and EB Games. It'll cost $349, but a Parrot Spokesperson told me there's no plans to reduce the price of the original model to clear stock; they expect stock to run out naturally just before the second generation model launches.

So what's so new? It's now equipped with a 720P-capable camera, comes with free control applications for both Android and iOS, uses Wireless N to transmit and record video in real time, or can record direct to a connected USB Flash drive that sits underneath the drone's main canopy.

Speaking of launches, once the price had been revealed and the specifications shown, it was time to get flying…

So what did I think? It's certainly a unique flying toy, but the accent there still has to be on toy. It's very cool that they've managed to include Wireless N and 720P video on board without impacting the battery time, but that's got to be balanced against the fact that the flying time is still a scant twelve minutes. The new simplified control mode makes a lot of difference when you're first learning to fly, and the ability to do a quick flip is a nice party piece. I'm sure enterprising folks with deeper wallets than mine will do some fascinating things with the AR Drone 2.0 — but possibly not for very long. I've been promised a review unit shortly, so stay tuned for more in-depth flying thoughts.

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