Tech review: Parrot Bebop 2 drone– fun, intuitive flier, but poor wireless connectivity

The Parrot Bebop 2 drone is great for the casual flier – easy to use and offering an immersive experience with the First Person View goggles, but the mediocre Wi-fi connectivity and lack of camera gimbal are disappointing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 7:31am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 7:31am

The Parrot Bebop 2 (HK$5,588) is sold as a bundle that includes a second-generation SkyController for extended range and a pair of First Person View goggles for immersive FPV flights.

Design

Largely the same as the first generation model, the Bebop 2 has a sleek body with a fisheye lens at the front. It’s bigger, 10 grams heavier and carries a 2700 mAh battery. The Velcro straps that kept the battery in place are gone, replaced by a much improved locking system.

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Control/app

The SkyController 2 gives the Bebop 2 fine-tuned controls via physical sticks. It’s exactly as if you’re playing a video game, it’s fun and easy to fly.

The app handles all the configurations, controls and calibration. It’s fairly intuitive but could do with a few more first-time user prompts. You can slot your mobile phone into the First Person View goggles to view everything in immersive mode.

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Flying/handling

Flight time is about 25 minutes on a full charge, depending on how hard it is flown. Top speed (65km/h) will drain the battery faster but makes the drone more responsive and nimble. There’s a huge improvement over the Bebop 1’s 47km/h.

The onboard GPS is very precise: I launched my Bebop 2 off my balcony and quickly lost control of it. But it was able to return home and land quite precisely on my balcony (after a few bounces off the balcony wall).

Out in the open (at a beach, without Wi-fi interference) it achieved good range and altitude thanks to the SkyController 2 range extender.

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Camera

Manual camera tilting isn’t the smoothest so it isn’t recommended for professional aerial filming. The Bebop 2 does have a few camera tricks. Once it identifies a target, it can auto follow. The auto-framing feature tracks objects while staying still and the camera tilts down 90 degrees to get that perfect bird’s eye view.

The Bebop 2’s photos and videos are passable for daytime shots and noisy at night. Without a gimbal, every tilt the drone experiences is transferred directly into the footage.

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Conclusion

The Bebop 2, which includes the First Person View goggles and SkyController 2, isn’t cheap. For more than HK$5,000, its lacklustre connectivity – you have to be in the middle of nowhere, free from other Wi-fi signals to get a stable connection – is a let-down.

Bebop 2 is about fun flying and casual aerial filming. Keep the Bebop 2 in your sight and do not fly in busy areas, you can have a lot of fun with this little drone.

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