Sick of all the cookie-cutter drones out there mucking up your day and competing with birds and insects in distracting you while you dream of saving the world and building your empire? Want to stand out like say a snorting, red-eyed, tail furiously swishing, high on prime weed rhino at a snobbish tea party that is super-loaded with royalty, hot scones, mayonnaise and all the other delish trimmings? Well, you definitely might want to look up -and down- the Parrot Swing mini-drone. Why mini-drone? Well, because it’s smaller, cheaper and almost toy-like when compared to the vast majority of offerings from other drone makers. Not that there is anything ‘tiny’ about what it can do though or the impact of its looks.
At first sight, you might easily be forgiven for wondering if the makers are unwittingly selling souvenirs off the Star Wars franchise, as the drone looks frighteningly rather like an X-winged starfighter. Or they perhaps fell asleep after a drunken binge while watching Star Trek re-runs. Or they just stapled four notebooks/pylons on a hinge and bound it with wire. Or they got inspired by a Harry Potter novel or a creation of the end of his eternally active wand. Look further for its cannons and dark magic and praise the good Lawd its not immediately evident.
Not to worry, the thing can actually fly; color me relieved. It has two boss modes: quad copter and plane mode, again rather unlike most of the drones out there in the market. The former is easily self-explanatory and comfortably familiar. While the later makes it move rather like the famed Wright Bro’s clunky flyer, though with far better maneuverability and agility and magnificently dive-bomb into people and structures. The drone by combining the advantages of both horizontal and vertical flight becomes capable of some truly jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics almost worthy of the famed Russian Knights team. Should you get air-sick during these grand festivities, just push the attached ‘stop’ button to go back to quad-copter/granny mode.
Battery juice of 550 mAh lasts around 8 minutes of use depending on flight conditions after just 30 minutes charging time. Should you desire to keep the fun moving, simply swap in fresh batteries as needed. Control is via a Bluetooth-capable smartphone with Parrot‘s FreeFlight Mini app enabled, making for some truly awesome if somewhat imprecise flying which is limited to a range of 20 meters. The Parrot app supports both Android 4.4 and iOS 7. Need even more scalpel-like control? An optional, more precise, X-box worthy-and $40 more expensive- Flypad controller is available that is good enough to keep the drone on an invisible leash at a maximum distance of 60 meters while you scare the crap out of yourselves and neighbors. Top speed is a little over 18 mph, and weight a bee-minuscule 2.6 0z
The learning curve to adroitly pilot this contraption is rather steep, but so are the rewards, particularly in its drool-worthy Plane mode. This is rather a bare-bones drone though as cameras to take pictures and videos with are not provided.
Price is $139.