The Parrot BeBop Drone is Parrot's newest addition to their awesome line of drones

Leave it to the makers of the wildly popular AR. Drone, Parrot has once again come out with a real winner. The Bebop drone. Like the AR., it's navigated from a tablet or larger smartphone (iOS or Android), but the great addition that we were really impressed with is the Skycontroller you see in the image below. While it's feels much like a gaming controller in your hand, I'd argue that it's waaaaay more fun than just sitting on your couch blasting everything that moves... ok, that's fun too. ;D

skycontroller

This is where things get REALLY awesome!

The skycontroller feels good in your hand, and since it's a little larger than other controllers, make for comfortable flying for those who have "well endowed" paws. Having joysticks on the end of each grip is reminiscent of other radio controls, and makes it really easy to switch from flying a craft with a conventional RC to the Parrot BeBop Drone.

We found that using the controller, the BeBop was so much easier to fly because when we were just using the tablet, our fingers would leave the control areas whenever we got a little to excited, and we'd lose the control. Ran into a couple trees that way, but the drone survived and got right back up to fly some more! The easy access buttons right below the joysticks are easy to reach, and positioned so that you can feel your way to them and know exactly which button you're pressing.

The best part is that the oversized antenna (its the black plate with blue line above the tablet) really increases the Wi-Fi range. We could fly further using the Skycontroller than with only the tablet.

The camera can pivot 160 degrees on four shock absorbers making FPV flying easy and with minimal jitter you might get from other drones that have integrated cameras (or at least without a gimbal). The Parrot Bebop can tilt side to side as well as up and down slightly without disrupting your view forward.

The Skycontroller has an integrated HDMI port so you can use first person view glasses, such as the Oculus Rift really gives you the pilot's seat view! You can also output the HDMI to a DVR or second screen so that everyone else can see what you see.

Is it a Toy, Hobby Drone or Professional Quadcopter???

The Parrot BeBop Drone is probably too expensive to be called a toy, but does fit really nicely into the hobbyist demographic. To be called a professional quadcopter has been debated on many of the drone forums, but for us, it's as close as we're going to get without taking out a small loan. Hobbyists and Pro fliers will love the Skycontroller, and definitely the FPV, but the true professionals claim there's a little lag in the FPV and what the drone is actually doing. It really wasn't significant enough for us to see, but then again, we weren't trying to recreate the speeder bike battle in Endor...

The Parrot BeBop Drone comes in red, blue and yellow. The quadcopter features removable bumpers you'd want to use if you didn't want to take chances with the drone and it also comes standard with two batteries for a little extra flight time (you'll get 10-15 minutes per battery). The base price is about $500. If you splurge for the Skycontroller, you'll be spending around $1100 after all said and done, but then again, you're extending the drone's range to about a mile to 1.5 miles. Without the skycontroller, you'll get 800 feet at best (in a field and no radio interference).