Parrot Bebop Drone – Parrot was one of the first companies to make a splash in the consumer UAV space when it released its AR 2.0 drone back in 2010. Now, just a few years later, it’s back with the Bebop that smaller, smarter, more camera-focused drone. You’ve graduated from your cheap beginner drone, and you want to try something new. Something that can shoot beautiful video from the sky but doesn’t cost $1,000+ like a camera-equipped DJI Phantom. You spot the $500 Parrot Bebop Drone, and pull the trigger. It’s kind of fun, you think, between strings of obscenities.
The problems were mainly related to how it behaves while flying: sometimes, even the most experienced pilots crashed the quadcopter and to top that, the quadcopter wasn’t durable enough to tank so many crashes. Often the battery would pop out and you would have to wrap the chassis with a thin band in order to fit the battery in again. But all of these are in the past (according to Parrot).
The new and improved model is here, and you can buy right now for as low as $550. Besides fixing the main issues, another thing that improved, since the first time it has been released, is the number of firmware updates it got over-the-air. So without any further ado, let’s take a look on the new and improved Parrot Bebop quad.
Packaging of Parrot Bebop Drone
The box in which the Parrot Bebop drone comes is slightly larger, but aside from that, everything is extremely well organized. Opening the box directly introduces you to the quadcopter in all its glory while going further down will reveal the other items such as a battery, quick start guide, charger, and a bunch of adapters for wall charging. Other great additions are the 2 batteries, each of 1200 mAh, and the safety bands that you can easily attach on the left and right sides of the quadcopter.
Design of Parrot Bebop Drone
I’ll say this for the Bebop Drone: It looks pretty cool. Compact, streamlined and made of strong yet flexible materials. From the foam cockpit to the guitar pick-like propellers, every part of the Bebop feels like it could easily survive a crash. (And has.) It’s also pretty cool the way the 14-megapixel camera is built right into the nose of the craft, and the way it’s stabilized on four red rubber balls integrated into the frame. Most camera drones have a big camera mount hanging from the bottom of the aircraft, and I’ve always thought that looked kind of ugly.
Camera of Parrot Bebop Drone
Theoretically, the coolest thing about the Bebop should be the camera built into its nose. It’s a fixed camera, but Parrot had the ingenious idea to use just a small portion of the giant fisheye image it provides at any given moment. You can digitally pan around the image using a separate analog stick on the remote as if you had a real mechanical gimbal, and the software takes advantage of the unused pixels to digitally stabilize those images too.
Battery Life of Parrot Bebop Drone
12-13 minutes tops. I typically was able to keep the Bebop in the air, with a live video feed, for 12 minutes after the pairing process. That’s a hell of a lot better than the 6-8 minutes you’d expect from a beginner drone but pales in comparison to the 25 minutes you’ll get out of a DJI Phantom 2 or better.
And oh god does the Bebop’s battery drain fast at the end. When the DJI Phantom battery hit 10 percent, I still had enough time for several runs around a large park before it warned me to head home. When the Bebop hit 10 percent, I sent it out on a single run and it crash-landed on the return trip. The low battery warning sounded without enough life left to bring it home again.
Navigation of Parrot Bebop Drone
Once you get out to the edge of your smartphone’s (likely pitiful) Wi-Fi range (maybe a couple hundred feet, but I’ve had it disconnect right in front of me!) the Bebop gets extremely laggy and unresponsive. Mostly, it’ll just hover wherever it winds up, without a care in the world, but you might not have a whole lot of battery life left to bring it back before it falls out of the air like a stone.
If you really expect to buy the $500 Bebop without a Skycontroller, maybe it’s not a good idea to fly above head level after all. With a Skycontroller? Pretty comfortable out to surprisingly long ranges but not nearly the 2km range that Parrot promises. In a giant open park with a direct line of sight, I didn’t even make it out half a kilometer before the video signal froze and my connection to the drone cut out and since those two things happened at the same time, without warning, there was nothing I could do about it.