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CES 2012: Hands-On With Phone Controlled RC Helicopter, The AR Drone 2.0

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Posted January 18, 2012 - By Jonathan Deesing

AR Drone

I don’t get toys for Christmas anymore. And that’s fine. I got a really nice Swiss Army watch this year and was probably more excited than the one time I got the green Power Ranger. But if anything could possibly reanimate my desire for toys, it’s the AR Drone 2.0 from Parrot.

We all saw the original AR Drone in ads or every dammed Brookstone from here to Manila, and we all had the same question: “did you guys not see Terminator?” Apparently not, as the team at Parrot seems destined to improving this machine to the point of its eventual use as a deadly hunter of human resistance fighters.

I got a chance to get my hands on Parrot’s newest toy in a parking lot outside of CES and was duly impressed with what I saw. And as the proud owner of a remote controlled helicopter for approximately 15 minutes one Christmas morning before I ran it into a building, I consider myself an expert on remote controlled flying vehicles. The AR Drone 2.0 uses a smart phone or tablet (either Apple or Android) as a remote control through the device’s Wi-Fi and the 2.0 now features a camera that films in HD video (up to 720p). The Drone is wrapped in shock absorbing foam on all sides and incredibly durable. If a dog happens to get ahold of it and gnaws it apart, all of the parts are easily replaceable.

Within seconds of picking up the controlling iPad, I was flying with moderate skill and didn’t crash once. Now, I do have a natural proclivity toward this stuff as a gamer, but if you’re reading this you should too. The touch screen on your device serves as both the screen and controller, and is customizable to make flight easier for anyone. You can either control the drone by tilting your phone or by two joysticks on the screen. It’s seriously the easiest thing ever. The 2.0 flies as far as 50 meters away and can go up to 15 mph.

The best part? It’s freaking fun. Sure, most of us think we outgrew remote-controlled vehicles years ago, but those things never had cameras on them. And they weren’t as durable as this thing. The possibilities are endless with the 2.0, and the HD video has implications most of us probably can’t even consider. The battery only lasts for 12-15 minutes, but for everything offered by this machine I wouldn’t mind showing up to the park with a few extra charged batteries.

It's an impressive piece of hardware, but easily the most groundbreaking part of the 2.0 is its social aspect. With a refined app designed to streamline users’ experiences, it actually makes for one hell of a social media. Proud owners can upload video and pictures instantly, complete achievements and even share the best flying spots in town all at once from the app. Find a great course in Chicago? Simply upload the video and challenge nearby locals to complete it faster than you.

If you’re looking to play a video game with realistic graphics while feeling the sun on your face, look no further than the AR Drone 2.0. It’s fun, addictive, and best of all; no 13-year-old kid is going to call you a “douche” if you crash into a tree.

Tags: CES 2012, Tech, Toys
CES 2012: Hands-On With Phone Controlled RC Helicopter, The AR Drone 2.0
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