The Parrot Bebop 2 is eye-candy raised to the ninth power. It looks so good I was indeed tempted to smother it in chocolate and somehow get it down my throat. The Parrot Bebop 2 is a remake of the original and aspires to be the perfect starter drone for those afflicted with ten thumbs and about an equal number of toes. It sports the apparently irresistible attributes of compactness and light weight, is relatively low cost and has a good enough camera. Which incidentally is the same 14 MP shooter of the original Bebop and of a fish-eye design attached to the nose capable of taking 1080p video at a maximum range of 300 meters. Internal storage is a measly 8GB, which fills up surprisingly fast particularly when shooting 1080p video. When this occurs, you can always land the drone and transfer footage to your phone. But it would have been far more convenient for Parrot to include SD card support in the first place. To be brutally honest, though, camera quality hasn’t been improved much over the original and is pretty awful. Especially when compared to the majority of the competition out there, some of which costs half of what it does.
Control is via either smartphone/tablet or the optional and grandly named SkyController, which sports joysticks as well as HDMI, so you can connect it to an external device and view the camera output. It additionally supports headsets and lightens your wallet by around $400. The SkyController additionally has a Wifi range extender smack on top that is supposed to extend the control range to a maximum of 2 kilometers. While range with a connected smartphone is a rated 300 meters. Need even more options? Well, the drone is also controllable via any Bluetooth gaming controller, which you can connect to your smartphone and pilot the drone.
About the major weakness, it has that really puts us off it is its totally unreliably and unpredictable Wifi connection -even across all Wifi bands- that frequently seems possessed and determined to ruin your day whenever you dare exceed a seemingly random range. We took the drone for a stroll around the park and put it through its paces. While takeoff and landing were easy as pie and agility were remarkable, the connection was often lost with the Parrot Bebop 2 whenever the range exceeded 140 meters when piloting via the smartphone. With the accompanying video also flooded with static and white noise. Similarly, forget the rated 2 km range with the SkyController, as a range with the device never got past 700 meters in all our time of using it. Whenever this happened, the Parrot Bebop 2 usually hovered in a place like an angry wasp for around a minute, then returned to its launch point. Or just hovered and plummeted straight down later when the battery ran out without it being able to reconnect to your Wifi network or return to home. Not to worry much though as the Parrot is way sturdier than it looks. The drone is therefore a short-ranged, whirly bag of fun, which delivers around 20 minutes of flight time, roughly double that of its predecessor.
Price is $550, and availability is now, but it’s pretty difficult to recommend this drone to anyone with the drone market crammed full of way superior and yet cheaper drones. Except of course if you won’t fly it but would rather keep on your desk to stare at that eye-candy all day long.