As a self-confessed iPhone nerd and RC toy geek I couldn’t have been more excited when asked to play with and review the Parrot AR.Drone; a remote controlled quadricopter, operated over a Wi-Fi network using an iPhone as the controller, and includes a video camera that relays real-time video back to your handset with a range of about 50 metres.

The first thing you are going to want to do when you see this thing is FLY IT. The temptation to rip the packaging to shreds and turn it on ASAP is unbearable, if you’re anything like me with RC toys that is…but I have to warn you.  This is no toy.

Well of course it is really, but it is also a serious piece of technology that requires a good half hour of your attention watching tutorials on how to operate it before you do.

To that end it is a good thing that the initial battery charge up is going to take 90 mins — so un-box it, plug it in to charge up and head over to the website and work your way through Pilot Academy. Trust me, you cannot afford to miss this step or you could break your new chopper in less than a few minutes of misdirected enthusiasm!

This chopper, sorryQuadricopter, is nothing short of amazing.

Once you are all trained up and ready to fly, the connection process is pretty straight forward;

  • Plug in the battery pack and put the AR.Drone on flat ground (make sure you have PLENTY of space around you on your maiden voyage)
  • Lights will start out red and change to green when ready
  • Put your iPhone into Airplane mode
  • Turn on Wi-Fi
  • Select the AR.Drone Wi-Fi network and you are away.

I had to reset the AR.Drone then wait for a few minutes while the App did some checking, some installing, some sending, some restarting, some more installing and then some more checking and then…

The AR.Drone kicks into gear and instantly displays high quality video on your iPhone, compelling you to Launch.

This is where the fun really starts. The AR.Drone will begin to hover automatically and you are literally flying.

The indoor hull is a must during this test pilot phase, but once you are adept at flying you probably want to change it over to the much more aggressive styling of the outdoor hull.

I’ve been building Tamiya cars and Radio Controlled (RC) cars and choppers for as long as I can remember, and the thing about this chopper over other traditional RC choppers is the stability once it is in the air.

Auto stabilisation means you can pretty much rest assured it is going to hover even if you fail to control it properly. I can’t say that about every chopper that I have wrecked flying into things over the years.  Flying is pretty intuitive with lean and tilt type motions to steer and a simple set of joystick commands that work surprisingly well to move the AR.Drone about the place and you can fly indoors as well as outdoors, making it a really compelling RC chopper, sorry Quadricopter.

Add to all of this temptation that the augmented reality gaming element of this unique piece of kit and you have got the must-have Christmas present for 2010.

Where can I get one?
Limited stock available in selected Telstra & Fone Zone stores just in time for Christmas with an RRP of $349.
Telstra Stores stocking A.R.Drone
Telstra Store, Sydney CBD 400 George Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000
Telstra Store, Rhodes Shop 24
Rhodes Waterside Shopping Centre
1 Rider Blvd , Rhodes, NSW, 2138
Telstra Store, Sydney Airport Shop 18, Departure Level
Shires Avenue, Mascot, NSW, 2020
Telstra Store, Melbourne CBD 246 Bourke Street (Cnr Swanston & Bourke), Melbourne, VIC, 3000
Telstra store, Chadstone Shopping Centre Shop B103 Chadstone Shopping Centre
1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone, VIC, 3148
Telstra Store, Knox City Shop 2125 Knox City Shopping Center
Cnr Burwood Hwy & Stud Rd, Wantirna South, VIC, 3152
Telstra Store, Brisbane *Updated 21/12/10* 275 George St, Brisbane, QLD, 4000
Telstra Store , Westfield Marion Shop 2045
297 Diagonal Road, Oaklands Park, SA, 5046
Telstra Store, Perth 667 Hay Street Mall, Perth, WA, 6000
Telstra Store, Hobart 44-46 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, TAS, 7000

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