The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition is an incremental improvement on the stock second-gen model. It introduces a menacing new all-black colour scheme and tripples the quadrocopter’s battery life, jumping from 12 minutes of flight time to 36 minutes. Controlled via smartphone or tablet, the high-end flying machine features an integrated HD camera and is compatible with both iOS and Android. It can even throw a badass barrel-roll.
With a £320 price tag, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition is far from cheap. Can these seemingly small improvements live up to this lofty pricing? Let’s take a look.
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The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition has been given something of a ninja themed makeover. Gone are the vibrant colours of past models, replaced with a stealthy black finish. It comes with both a streamlined outdoor hull and a bulbous, protective indoor shell with extra foam and plastic padding.
Unlike past models, the Power Edition comes boxed with a range of additional rotor blades in a variety of colours. These black, orange, blue and red accessories not only allow for a level of customisation, but let you bring a bit of vibrancy to the black being. Although it is possible to change the blades on a whim, doing so is anger-inducingly fiddly. It’s a good job it comes with plenty of spares as the small clips used to hold the blades in position ping off never to be seen again.
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition weighs just 380g and there's no escaping the fact that this big kid’s toy really does look the part. That said, its expanded polypropylene body (a foam, plastic blend not too dissimilar to polystyrene) doesn't really match the £300, and nor does it feel like it'll survive the inevitable crashes.
Battery life is the big feature improvement on the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 over past models. This improved staying power isn’t achieved by any particular wizardry though; it simply comes boxed with two 1,500mAh Lithium-Ion power packs as opposed to one 1,000mAh one. Although the adding staying power is gratefully received, the need to stop and change power supply halfway through a session is hardly ideal. What’s more, the added battery has been built into the Power Edition’s increased price, so it's far from a great deal. Having run down the juice, recharge times are quiet lengthy too, with a couple of hours needed for each battery to return to full power.
The stability of the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition is second to none on the mass market front. A stocking-filler RC helicopter this is not. Left to hover, the Drone will hold its position with seeming ease, keeping a constant, stable space between itself and the ground. The four rotors are individually powered, with the drone’s clever electronics working to keep things as level as possible.
Controlled via an app, there are a selection of touchscreen based command options available. With joy pad style controls the standard, you can also choose to use your smartphone’s accelerometer to move the drone forward and back, or side to side. An emergency landing button is included on all control setups, and is needed more than we would have hoped.