UNBOXED: Reviewing the Parrot BeBop 2 Drone and VR Pack
The drone market is one that UNBOXED hasn’t had the opportunity to tap into too deeply yet. But it’s a market that’s becoming ever more important to the consumer electronics retailer. Consumer drones is expected to be an $11.2 billion industry by 2020. And though DJI owns the overwhelming majority of the drone market at present, there are other options out there.
One of the more familiar non-DJI drone manufacturers, Parrot recently released the BeBop 2, a lightweight drone that falls in line with most entry-level drones as far as price point ($349.99) is concerned.
The BeBop 2 impressed us on a number of different levels.
For starters, the experience of flying this style of consumer drone is incredibly fun and easy to pick up on. I’ve experienced flying smaller toy-sized drones and have had very little success keeping the things under control. Typically you see them hooked up to smartphones, and they rely on the internal gyroscope or some other combination of unnatural controls to navigate the air. The BeBop does connect to the user’s Android or iPhone through Parrot’s app, but you can also fly the drone via a remote control. That makes the experience very similar to that of an RC car, just in the air. And your phone doesn’t need to be attached to the controller, but when it is you can get a first-person view from the BeBop 2’s onboard camera.
It look a little getting used to the different joysticks and buttons on the controller, but after about 30 seconds, it all made sense, and I found myself flying fast, zooming back and forth, and taking some close corners. Of course, there was the occasional mid-air collision. But the BeBop was able to take a beating and keep on flying.
Then there’s the VR flight experience. When paired with your smartphone, the user can strap the phone into Parrot’s VR headset and fly the drone as if you’re actually sitting it the “cockpit.”
Admittedly, it was a quite strange seeing myself sitting in the middle of the room while the drone was buzzing around me. But it was also cool as hell to be able to have that out of body experience. And because the onboard camera shoots in full 1080 HD, the picture quality is better than most of what you’ll find on the market.
Aside from the high-quality first person perspective it provides when flying, the camera actually records some impressive in-flight footage.
And it can take some decent still pictures as well.
I’ve seen and read some complaints across other reviews about the camera quality, but I found those knocks to be unwarranted. We placed the footage against video taken from a Canon DSLR (which you can see in the video at the top of this review), and while the trained eye was able to notice a difference, it wasn’t enough to make us feel slighted by the BeBop.
If there’s any knock against the drone from a camera perspective it’s that Parrot didn’t include an SD card slot for expandable memory—or that would allow the user to easily transfer the media.
The only other knocks I have against the BeBop 2 revolve around the battery life—but that’s more or less an industry wide issue. And it’s also something that’s a bit of a catch 22 with the drone market.
Drone flight times are so short because the batteries are made to be lightweight so they don’t use a lot of energy. Bigger batteries that would, in theory, provide longer flight times end up being heavier, which requires more energy to be used, thus hurting overall battery life. So, until we get lighter, stronger batteries, it seems we’re stuck with iffy flight times.
So, for now, we’ll take the 25 minutes of flight time and be slightly less than satisfied with it. Those 25 minutes, though, are some of the most enjoyable you’ll experience from a consumer drone standpoint.