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Hands-on Gear Review
Parrot Bebop 2 Review
Price: $550 List | $349.00 at Amazon
Pros: Portable, lightweight, generally stands up to crashes
Cons: Poor video quality
Bottom line: Can serve as a selfie machine or a toy, but canít produce usable video clips
The Parrot Bebop 2 is a small, lightweight camera drone with no gimbal. While the small size makes it fairly inexpensive and fun to fly, the lack of a gimbal makes the resulting footage very shaky and unstable. This model would be a great toy for a young kid, as the footage produced would be fun for kids to look at, but not suitable for any sort of movie-making venture. The Parrot further endears itself to kids by performing tricks in the air. So if your hero is Peppy from Starfox and you want to do a barrel role, this is the model for you. If you're looking to capture good footage the DJI Phantom 3 Standard offers much more stable, high quality video at a similar price.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This charts shows the Parrot's overall performance (in blue) compared to the other models we tested.
Below we go into further detail of how the Parrot fared in each of our individual tests.
Without a gimbal the the Bebop 2 just doesn't have the camera stability to produce good footage, though it was slightly more steady than the YUNEEC Breeze, and its relatively low quality camera often produces grainy video. Accordingly it received the lowest score of 3 in this metric, well off the top score of 10. The video produced by the Parrot Bebop would be fun for a kid who had just flown the drone around to look at, but not for much else. This model does do a decent job of taking still selfies, but the YUNEEC Breeze does a much better job of that.
Ease of Use
The Bebop 2 received the worst score of 3 in our ease of use metric, well behind the top score of 9. This was mostly due to its controller. It relies on a third party smartphone or tablet as a controller. There are a few different controller modes. One utilizes the phone's accelerometer, allowing you to steer the drone by tilting your phone. While this sounds intuitive, we found that it actually wasn't, and some lag in the copter's response time made it incredibly difficult to pilot this way. Things worked much better when we switched over to the mode that uses two virtual touchscreen joysticks. While piloting this way was much better, it was easy to slide beyond the joystick and telling the Bebop 2 to do a flip. We would have far preferred a controller with actual joysticks. There is one available for the Bebop 2, but the extra expense brings the total price tag into the range of much, much more capable drones.
Outside of the controller, the Bebop 2 is easy to set up out of the box. First flight feels fun and easy due to the drones lightweight making it hard to damage in a crash. Opening the FreeFlight Pro app you'll see a takeoff button. Pressing it lifts the drone into the air and puts it into a hover at about eye level. The touchscreen joysticks don't lend the best control, but you get a general feel for them relatively quickly and can at least zip the drone around a bit. Double tapping on the screen makes the Bebop 2 do a flip, which is fun, but those flips don't really show up in the video. When it's time to touch down again a landing button automatically sets the copter back onto solid ground.
The Bebop 2 shared the low score of 5 in our flight performance testing, which was well behind the top score of 5. It tended to drift and bob quite a bit during takeoff and landing. It was a bit more steady when we tried to put it into a steady hover, but due to its light weight even a small breeze could move it around. It has some autonomous flight modes, such as a cable cam type waypoint function, but we found them to be so unstable and unsteady that they were nearly useless. Additionally, the range is only 1000 feet. This is much better than the other non-gimbal model, the YUNEEC Breeze, but still not quite enough to get a big panning shot. The Bebop 2 does have a nice long maximum flight time of 25 minutes.
The Bebop 2 shared the bottom score of 4 in our video downlink metric, which saw scores as high as 10. The video feed from the drone was decent, but not particularly crisp, and did pixelate at points during flight. The biggest issue was that the most usable controller layout required putting both of your thumbs on top of the actual video feed, so most of it was obscured. The Bebop 2 really isn't suited to capturing high quality video anyway, but not be able to see the shot you're capturing makes any feeble attempt at doing so near impossible.
Parrot scored an 8 in our customer service and reliability testing, putting it near the top of a metric that had scores ranging from 3 to 9. We always got in touch with knowledgeable and helpful customer service agents when we called Parrot. Plus, we found that it could take quite a beating, so we doubt you'll be able to destroy it in a crash (please don't take that as a challenge, though).
The Parrot lists for a price of $550. This feels quite steep considering it's best use is as a toy, and there are plenty of toy drones with mediocre cameras available for much less. Also, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is often available for a comparable price, and it is an actual, capable filmmaking drone.
The Parrot Bebop 2 can serve as a selfie machine or a fun toy for a kid, but definitely is not filmmaking material.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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