Par­rot Hy­dro­foil Drone

Af­ter con­quer­ing the skies, the drones are com­ing for your swim­ming pools

Mac Format - - RATED -

£140 Man­u­fac­turer Par­rot, par­

Fea­tures 20m range, Blue­tooth Di­men­sions 32x34x14cm Weight 247g

The lat­est drone on the mar­ket is the Hy­dro­foil from Par­rot, which has two modes of op­er­a­tion: you can fly it around in all di­rec­tions, per­form­ing back­flips at will and spy­ing on your neigh­bours with its built-in cam­era, or con­nect it to its base and use it as a re­mote con­trol boat. The boat mode is great fun and really ma­noeu­vrable, but we’d avoid thrash­ing it around any­thing larger than a swim­ming pool – it’s far too easy to ac­ci­den­tally send it out of reach and then run out of bat­tery. It’s also too big to use in a bath tub, so a pool is a must.

You con­trol it with an app on your iPhone or iPad. The app, called FreeF­light 3, is su­perbly de­signed and gives you all the con­trols you need for op­er­at­ing the drone – in flight mode that’s two on-screen joy­sticks that you con­trol with your thumb, and in hy­dro­foil mode it’s left and right slid­ers for controlling di­rec­tion and speed. It takes a lit­tle bit of get­ting used to, but luck­ily the drone is sur­pris­ingly ro­bust and sur­vived the fre­quent crashes it had to en­dure as we taught our­selves to pi­lot it. The app also en­ables you to take snap­shots, au­to­mat­i­cally per­form aerial ac­ro­bat­ics at the press of a but­ton, as well as share stats with your friends and oth­ers via the Par­rot Pi­lot Acad­emy.

As­sem­bly of the hy­dro­foil is pretty sim­ple. You get a screw­driver in the box and just have to put in a few screws. An­noy­ingly, we were forced to do a firmware up­date on the drone be­fore the app would let us use it, which turned out to be sim­ple to do (once you con­nect the drone to your Mac via USB), but led to a dis­ap­point­ing ‘out of the box’ ex­pe­ri­ence, as it was a stum­bling block to get­ting go­ing.

As ever, the draw­back of th­ese cheaper drones is the lim­ited bat­tery life – us­ing the hy­dro­foil takes the bat­tery life down to seven min­utes (from nine), which really isn’t very long. On the plus side, kids both big and small love play­ing with it, and even though its rec­om­mended for 14 years and up, the app is so easy to use that an eight-year-old can com­fort­ably pi­lot one.

Even bet­ter, the Hy­dro­foil drone also has a me­nac­ing ‘glow­ing eyes’ de­sign that makes it look a bit scary, and there­fore even more fun for the young ones. Gra­ham Bar­low The Hy­dro­foil is costly. If you’ve got a pool then this is the drone for you; oth­er­wise go for a cheaper op­tion.

iOS app is well de­signed

Au­to­matic aerial tricks

No video feed to iOS de­vices

Bat­tery doesn’t last long

Al­ready the mas­ter of the skies, Par­rot’s Hy­dro­foil

rules the waves too.

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