Parrot Hydrofoil Drone
After conquering the skies, the drones are coming for your swimming pools
£140 Manufacturer Parrot, parrot.com
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.