Parrot Mini Swat, analysis: the challenge of creating a drone for all audiences on price
Lately we keep hearing the word drone wherever we go. Normally we had related it to autonomous aircraft for military uses but the concept has expanded to such an extent that it is no longer difficult to see them in any self-respecting electronic catalog. But we do not have to invest 300 or 400 euros in a drone to get it to fly, now there are much cheaper.
Parrot has developed a line of more affordable drones, inexpensive drones for family fun and which has come to be called minidrones. One of them, the Swat, has fallen into our hands and we have taken him out for a walk to see how he behaves. Let's go, if you like, to go into the analysis of this Parrot mini flying drone: the Swat.
What are we in the box
The truth is that it is appreciated that the Parrot Swat has few components because it is more easily transportable, even when we decide to leave behind the box in which it is wrapped and put it in any backpack or suitcase that we have destined for such use. The Swat comes light in luggage but has everything you need to function wherever you go.
In addition to the body of the drone, with its four upper propellers at all four corners, the Swat already comes with a flight accessory, a kind of plastic frame that we can attach to each of the propellers and that will give it both stability in the air and protection. against knocks. Something that, until we get used to it, will happen quite often.
In addition to the body of its own drone and the outer shell, the Parrot Swat comes with a small charger that we can connect to any microUSB cable, which is also included, and a set of three batteries. The batteries is important because, as we will see later, they do not have too much autonomy and it will be good to have one always charging if we are going to carry out long flight sessions.
The three batteries will be useful to us so we don't have to cut the flight session
Once we remove the Swat from the box and assemble its outer shell, we only have to charge one of the batteries, insert it into the body and download the application for the mobile phone in order to control it. It is one of the advantages, and at the same time disadvantages, of the Swat, we can control it with our mobile without the need for any external control. But let's see how it is and how it behaves.
FreeFlight 3, the mobile control app
The app that we have to download to control the Parrot Swat, and other minidrones from the manufacturer, is FreeFlight 3, the version in which it is currently located. We have it available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, so the vast majority of mobiles on the market are covered, no matter what we have in our pockets.
The app has a paid section, Flight Plan, that we do not have to enter if we do not want to and that will cost us 29.99 euros, and that contains programmed tricks and different flight routes that we can execute or automate. We also have Drone Academy, since we will have access to our flight statistics with each of the registered drones, classifications, etc. Everything you need to train and become experts.
Although what interests us most is free flight, being able to lift the Swat off the ground and dedicate ourselves to exploring everything around us. For this we will only have to connect the Bluetooth of our mobile if we do not already have it, synchronize it with the drone so that both devices are paired and, if we want to assign a name to recognize it among others, in case we are going to have several registered models.
Once we access the free flight area, all we have to do is rest our fingers on the virtual joysticks and prepare ourselves for the Swat to take flight. With the right joystick we will control the orientation of the flight and with the left joystick we will control the left and right turns and the height of the drone.
In addition, the app offers us the possibility of recording the drone in flight. Not because the Swat contains a camera but we will have to focus it with the mobile camera when it flies and it will record everything we do with it. It will be an added difficulty, of course, because if it is already difficult to handle it well with little experience, try to place the phone in a certainly uncomfortable position. But let's move on to the flight, which is what's interesting.
Swat in the air
To start flying with the Parrot Swat you have to put it on the ground on a surface as horizontal as possible, not because the flight starts in a stable way but because the application itself can block the takeoff button if it is not the drone in that position. Once it is, we only have to click on start the flight and enjoy.Let's face it, flying one of these drones is amazing and we will enjoy them as if we were 10 years old again.
The Swat behaves quite smoothly and the response to the instructions is quite fast and precise. We said that the smartphone was a help as well as a drawback and here we will find that managing the Swat from a touch surface that we can not be paying attention to will be a bit uphill at first.
Once the learning curve has been passed, which will depend on each person, taking a walk in the park with the Swat is an experience. Gliding at different heights, high speed turns and the possibility of controlling the height with one of the virtual joysticks will allow us to do practically everything with it, except invest it in flight as it would lose stability and fall, although in Flight Plan we can get there To do it.
We should not be afraid of it falling, by the way, because the frame to give stability protects the drone and is quite resistant. It is certainly a toy shockproof with which we can enjoy both ourselves and the smallest of the house. In fact, they may learn to handle it before we do.
In addition, the Swat has a front light to be able to fly it at night that does not detract too much autonomy from the batteries, we can go from flights of 10 or 15 minutes to flights of approximately 9 to 12 minutes. Always talking about the time averages that we have obtained in the analysis. Of course, it is better to have it controlled if we are going to fly at night on the street because as soon as it goes out we will have to look for it, and it is black and dark gray. Good luck with that.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Parrot Swat
First of all we must bear in mind that the Swat is a drone with a plastic body, except for some metal parts such as the propeller shafts and screws, hence it has little weight and can be lifted in the air with little power. In order not to increase the weight of the equipment, the batteries are also reduced, so we initially encountered a couple of drawbacks.
The first is that we have a limited battery life. Depending on how much flight stress you are subjected to, with movements, turns and changes in height, a Swat battery can last us between 10 and 15 minutes maximum. Depending on the type of USB charger that we use, each one of them can be ready in about 15 or 20 minutes.
Thus, with this autonomy and rotating the batteries, we can have an almost uninterrupted flight session as long as we stay close to something where to charge them. Hence, as we mentioned, the detail that the Parrot minidron has up to three batteries, so that one is charging while we play with the other two.
The second is that it weighs very little and tends to subject itself excessively to the designs of the wind. While indoors it has great stability and its height and position corrections are minimal, the Swat's flight outside is a little odyssey. To do the test, we will only have to leave it static in the air to see how its position varies due to the constant corrections based on the wind.
The Swat is so light that a not very powerful breeze can alter the course and the flight experience
Its connection with the mobile is through Bluetooth, so here we find an ally, rather than an enemy. If we push it too voluntarily or involuntarily and it loses connection, it will only look for how to land slowly descending to land. Theoretically it should support a distance of 100 meters but in reality it will lose connection to just over 60. We will not have to run much behind it.
One last drawback is that Swat's design does not favor knowing our position at any given moment and we can often try to start the flight in the wrong direction, all because the only clear distinction in the nose from a distance is a play of light , as small eyes, which do not look very good outside.
Parrot Swing Mini Drone: Xataka's opinion
When I made my first communion, a few years ago, they gave me a toy truck that had a remote control that linked to it via a cable. I don't remember the hours I spent driving my house and the park in front of it with the toy truck. If my communion were these days, I am clear that this "remote control truck" would have been replaced by a Parrot Swat-style drone.
These small drones at affordable prices are the new remote-controlled vehicles, with the exception that they no longer only travel the streets but also launch, float in the water or fly. Designed for practically all ages, the Parrot Swat will be a good purchase if we are going to use it. Well, one of the doubts when buying these new devices is whether or not they will end up in a closet.
If we often go out to the field or have children at home, the Parrot Swat will always be a great option. In addition, its three batteries can give us about 45 minutes of autonomy, and with the option of having one always charging, we can enjoy the minidron for hours and hours. And for the 100 and little euros that it costs at the moment, we will not be wrong if we get one. Although that, as always, depends on each buyer.
- Light and easily transportable
- Fairly shock and drop resistant
- Sufficient autonomy for a complete session
- Touch control is somewhat complex at first
- Night light provides little or nothing
- Easily beatable by medium winds