One of the most pleasant surprises we've come across while visiting this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, was Parrot's booth, where we've had the chance to check out live some of the company's latest products (such as the NIA digital photo frame), but also its already super-famous AR.Drone helicopter, remotely-controlled via the iPod touch, iPhone or iPad.
To be perfectly honest, we weren't exactly sure what to expect from the AR.Drone
, but the device's real-life behavior managed to convince us that we're talking about a toy/accessory that will become immensely popular on the future, as it enables users to fly and engage in all sorts of activities (video recording, fighting other AR.Drone units, etc.).
The flying device can best be described as a quad-copter, featuring four electric engines, attached to a frame manufactured from a very light polyurethane material, that delivers a very good level of stability, while also being quite lightweight.
Moreover, the control system is extremely simple, everything being done via an app for iOS devices, available for free, that lets users move the quad-copter around, set it up (including its maximum height, etc.) and view live video feeds provided by the AR.Drone's built-in cameras.
The iOS device connects to the AR.Drone via Wi-Fi, the flying machine itself generating a wi-fi network users will have to log-on to in order to fully control it.
It's also interesting to mention that the device is powered by a ARM9 468 MHz processor that is paired with 128MB of DDR memory and a custom built Linux OS, while also letting users engage in virtual aerial “dog-fights”, via a a dedicated gaming application.
The only major shortcoming the AR.Drone has is related to the battery life, one battery lasting for just around 12 minutes.
However, the company's officials have revealed the fact that they're already working on more capacitous power packs, but also on some other interesting accessories, such as dedicated car chargers, that would enable users to enjoy their AR.Drone for longer periods of time, regardless of the location.
As mentioned right from the start, we've been thoroughly impressed with the capabilities of the AR.Drone from Parrot, and we're really looking forward to checking it live once more, perhaps even for a full review.