Veteran gadget maker Parrot yesterday rolled out the latest in its product range, a new, super easy to fly quadcopter called the Rolling Spider, and we were there to give it a quick test run. Quirky French name aside, the new toy is actually really cool in some ways, especially since we managed to keep it flying for more than our typical 5 seconds – bang! – routine.
The Rolling Spider features the same kind of clever technology which made the AR Parrot drone such a hit with users. A set of ultra smart sensors ensure that the quadcopter flies incredibly easily, and is rock solid when in the air, an essential feature for newcomers who want to avoid damaging the furniture or their new gadget the first time out.
The quad is controlled via a phone or tablet using low power Bluetooth, which means the range is around 20 meters, typically enough for indoor flight. It will fly outdoors, but it’s clearly an indoor plaything, which is likely where it will do best. The flight time from a charge of the 500 mAh Li-Po battery is around 8 minutes, with a 90 minute charge time, so you’re going to have to be patient to get the most of out of this puppy.
One of the most unusual things about the product, apart from its very light weight, is the fact that it comes with a set of optional clip on wheels, which you can use either as prop protectors, or to drive the quad around on the floor, up the walls and even on the ceiling. It’s a cute trick, and could be fun for younger ages.
Did we mention how beautifully easy this craft is to fly? Anyone who’s bought a cheap Chinese quad will know just how difficult they are to fly, especially indoors where there’s not much room. With the Parrot, you just connect to your phone or tablet, hit the Take Off button and you’re flying. No skittering around, just a steady stable flight mode, which goes where you want it to go. Sure it takes a few minutes to work out the controls, but after that you’re master of the skies.
Which brings us to the only negative. We would oh so love for there to be a camera on board that we could use for video and stills capture. There is actually a camera there, but it’s used for stability and control, although you can apparently take rudimentary VGA stills with it. What we yearned for though, was a camera to grab rock steady video from 20 feet up. But alas, not to be with this model.
The fact is that quadcopters get old pretty fast if they don’t have cameras in them, because most of the fun comes from grabbing cool video of your mates, and then posting it to Facebook, so we’re hoping that V.2.0 will come with a camera on board, at which point this will be a product to reckon with. In the meantime we’ll be looking out for DIY hacks for cameras to appear.
The Parrot Rolling Spider is a very clever bit of engineering indeed. It flies like a dream, and really does hit a lot of the hot spots of an indoor flying toy. It’s got a nice set of features included as standard, including trick moves and the wheel ‘walking’ function, and the app is very easy to get to grips with. The product will be released for sale sometime in August and we suspect it will be on a fair few holiday wish lists come November.
Price: £89.99 / $TBA
Bluetooth control: range 20 meters
Flight time: 8 minutes
Charge time: 90 minutes
Weight: 55 grams
Apps: Android, iOS, Windows Phone