Parrot Bebop 2, analysis: autonomy and ease of flight ideal to enter the world of drones
We are facing the update of an already existing product, the Bebop, which returns to position itself more strongly in a market tier that we consider has a lot to grow - if the laws do not oppress too much. We cannot place the Parrot Bebop 2 in the category that moves the new commercial DJI products or other solutions that offer professional capabilities, but it is not a toy either, as you can see from its flying, recording, and price skills.
The French firm's quadcopter is ready to fly, you take it out of the box and in five minutes we are discovering many of its possibilities. To its ease of assembly, we add the simplicity of its controls, and how light it is. We have an ideal drone to carry with you: it fits in a backpack and is controlled by mobile.
I repeat, and without fear of appearing heavy, it is a gadget that must be used with your head, there is a lot of responsibility when it comes to flying it. Our tests have been carried out in a closed room, prepared for these purposes, with the help of certified pilots.
See complete gallery »Bebop 2 in detail (12 photos)
Returning to the analysis, before going to know how the drone behaves in each of the important sections in this type of gadgets, and apart from a final assessment, there is very little competition in the range of 500 euros, which records decently and fly with guarantees.
Bebop 2 is a drone with which we fly in five minutes, it records content in good quality and has an acceptable price for many
Parrot is a company with a lot of experience in this field, at different levels, and it is certainly something that shows in the Bebop family of devices, despite its apparent simplicity.
With this Bebop 2 they do not revolutionize the market, nor do they improve the previous one, but they do polish errors and create a rounder product. Before going further in the analysis, say that the main improvement is in flight autonomy.
Parrot Bebop 2 on video
Bebop 2, specifications
A toy? No, it is very well designed
Parrot wanted the Bebop 2 to have hardly any moving parts, something that only remains for the propellers. There is nothing hanging, in fact the camera is included in the body, in the position of the ‘aircraft’ peak. Despite its wide angle, it is not bothered by propellers on recordings.
Light and small, we can easily transport it. It is much more resistant than it seems
With respect to versions of the previous model we highlight the absence of fenders on the sides, the propellers if they collide with something, there is nothing to stop them. In both there is a lot of plastic, a material that allows it to be resistant and light.
For my taste the design has been much cleaner and more beautiful, and as we get to know it better we understand that everything is quite well thought out - there is a lot of wind tunnel work. I live in an area where the wind is quite strong, and the days that I have taken it to fly in the open field, I have had the opportunity to assess the good aerodynamics it presents, as well as being quite efficient in flight.
Its aerodynamics and power cope well with the wind. In the Cadiz tests we have carried out, he has eaten good gusts of wind, and the little boy adjusted well to his position.According to the specifications, it can be flown with winds of up to 60 kilometers per hour
Speaking of lightness, in the 480 grams of weight we have, a large part is from the new battery: 192 grams. The new unit doubles the capacity of the first Bebop, up to 2,700mAh. It stays hooked to the body of the drone with a click, and you have to make force to be able to remove it, something that we think is well thought out in the face of impacts.
Flying the Bebop 2
Assembling the drone is very easy, you just have to put batteries and the four propellers in the position described in the manual: the propeller system is colored, there are also holes that determine its position, and when anchoring them, no we need to use tools (although one comes to make things easier).
Once assembled, we download the FreeFlight application, register the drone, calibrate it, and fly. Communication between the two is via WiFi, in the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.
Bebop 2 is great fun to fly, easy at all levels. If we are professionals we can get quite interesting things with it
In order to get the most out of the drone, I have flown in an authorized place, a model airplane club, with the help of the people of ICOdrones, who are authorized pilots in all types of unmanned flying vehicles. The first conclusions we can draw is that it is very stable and capable, even in windy situations, as is typical in Cádiz.
The drone is fast in its movements, quite configurable with options such as turning speed, maximum speed, distance or altitude.
Especially interesting is the operation of "Home" mode: if the drone loses its connection to the remote, you can choose the seconds you want your turn to obey, that is, we tell you to return home after 5 seconds. If you have lost the connection, it returns to the starting point based on the GPS position that took off.
We did not reach the 300 meters that Parrot tells us, but the reality is that the connection is much better than with the first Bebop, without problems we move in the hundred meters - from there the video fails. This also depends a lot on the capabilities of our mobile phone, I have been using it with OnePlus 2 without much problem, when switching to a low-end Xperia, the conditions were significantly worse.
We end this section commenting that there are a series of predefined stunts - they are turns or flips in every possible direction - that can be performed automatically, both in motion and standing in the air.
Good on video, worse on photo
We did not expect anything other than pulling a fisheye lens, and that's right: 170 degrees of vision that does not interfere with other elements of the drone. But it does not really use such a field of view to record video, and is that when using image stabilization, part of the entire format is cropped. The maximum lens aperture is f / 2.3.
Very good in fluidity and stabilization, you can see it in the samples we share. It is also very nice in color, but we cannot shoot rockets in general, since especially in definition, it is not bright. It also suffers from some flare or limited dynamic range.
As soon as we get on the computer and watch the video on a screen with good resolution, the lack of detail is noticeable, but having said that, we can assess the recording as remarkable. We are not going to make quality productions with it, but we are going to have a great time with what it is capable of recording.
The one in charge of carrying out this work is a 14 megapixel sensor, the same amount that the first Bebop had. It is capable of recording 1080p video at 30 images per second.
Very effective in stabilization and fluidity, not so much in definition. The camera records video remarkably
It does not have a 'gimball' with which we can stabilize more or change the camera in all directions, here we are content with a very good digital stabilization, and a 180 degree displacement of the camera (it is handled by touch, in a menu different). So we can point down and create very attractive shots - like a map - from above.
Returning to stabilization, say that the camera area is anchored to the drone part with four spherical dampers that absorb vibrations very well.
On the quality of the photos, well just, they are not bad if the lighting conditions accompany, and its panoramic aspect gives an attractive touch to the images. We appreciate the fact that samples can be recorded in RAW (DNG), in case we need to get more out of those shots.
See complete gallery »Parrot Bebop 2 taking photos (3 photos)
The photos and videos are recorded in an internal 8GB memory, but we cannot access it, nor is there any way to expand it. The way to get the contents is through the FreeFlight application, or with a microUSB cable.
How much fits in that memory? Well, about 50 minutes of video, in MP4 (H264) format. I would wait to collect the contents when we have power, since it is foolish to eat the drone batteries in this operation.
More than 20 minutes in the air
With 2,700mAh of battery, the new Bebop achieves better autonomy figures, also a greater weight (100 grams more). Fortunately it is now even more comfortable to put in any bag, and thanks to being used with a phone, an ideal clunker to fly around 23 minutes. It is possible to raise that amount, but with moderate use and little resistance from the air.
Greater autonomy means more fun time, also more recording time
The worst aspect of the first Bebop was clearly the battery, it had complications to exceed 11 minutes of flight. A figure that the new model doubles without much difficulty, and puts the drone in figures of more expensive models and with greater ambitions (DJI, Yunnec). There really are few commercial drones that play with more airborne minutes.
How long does it take to charge the battery? Well, in about 70 minutes we will have them loaded. This makes us think how important it is to have several units - around 60 euros - if we want to take a day off with the drone and forget about loads. They have a different connector than the original Bebop, so we forgot to use them on it.
The seven sensors
The center point is a camera that points down, to the right of the ultrasound sensor
The information necessary to analyze flight situations comes from seven sensors. To deal with it and calculate quickly, we have a dual-core processor. What are those systems?
- Vertical stabilization is achieved thanks to the fact that the camera takes a shot every 16 milliseconds, which it compares with the previous ones to determine the position and speed of the Bebop 2.
- An ultrasound sensor in the lower area of the drone measures the height of the ground in a range of 5 meters.
- The previous sensor is accompanied by a pressure sensor that determines the height when we go up from that strip.
- A 3-axis gyroscope to determine the angle at which the drone is located.
- There is also an accelerometer that helps with position and linear flight speed.
- A digital compass positions the drone in space.
- It has a GPS and GLONASS system to geolocate the equipment.
FreeFlight 3, piloting with your mobile
I do not like the touch drive to operate a drone, but we must admit that the learning curve of the application is very good
The good thing about Bebop 2 we have already repeated it several times, and that is that we can use it with little learning, from a mobile device. For that you need a mobile application called FreeFlight 3.
I don't like the touch drive too much, this screams for physical control - it would be a lot more fun - but at least it works and we get used to doing almost everything without too much trouble.
See complete gallery »FreeFlight 3 (19 photos)
The mobile has its good and bad part. It is positive to have a remote control, less things to charge to be able to fly, but it also conditions the mobile we have a lot: a powerful phone with good antennas and a good screen is not the same as a simple device that costs the application to move. and offer less power in connectivity.
Skycontroller, the command of control
I have not had a chance to try this option, I hope I can do it soon. With the Skycontroller Black we improve connectivity and range of action significantly, reaching a theoretical two kilometers.
With the physical controller you can control the drone without losing sight of it, looking at the screen we cannot say the same
If you use the Skycontroller, there is a WiFi connection with the remote and another with the mobile phone or tablet that we are using. The joysticks are much more comfortable than the touch operation of the screens, some even like them more than those used by DJI or Yuneec drones.
The Skycontroller opens the doors to interesting functionalities, since we can connect glasses through the HDMI port. There is also a USB that allows us to connect it to a computer and control it from there thanks to the ARDRoneSDK of the development kit.
It costs around 500 euros and is valid for the first and second Bebop. It is easy to find it in packs with the drone, and the game comes out at a better price. The problem is that it is already entering a price range in which DJI operates.
Autonomous flight? Flight plan
Flight plan is the name that Parrot has given to an extra application that it has created for Bebop 2. What does it allow us to do? Well, it introduces us to an autonomous flight plan. On the negative side, it is paid separately and is 20 euros.
With it we can make the Bebop 2 comply with a trajectory marked by GPS coordinates, from point to point. In them it is possible to tell them to take photos or videos, playing with what the camera does at all times. When it is running we can stop it at any time and take control.
Can it be repaired?
I like the idea that we buy a pot and we can repair it, easily accessing parts. On the Parrot website are all those that make up the drone, from the legs to the camera, and some other accessories.
They are not particularly cheap, but they are easy to change and repair. They're not in the same league as DJI, but at least they don't ruin us with the part changes.
Parrot Bebop 2, conclusions
The French propose a well-designed drone, easy to fly, also to transport, which lacks some quality in the camera to be an ideal solution
We are not looking at a toy, it is not cheap - 549 euros -, but it is much more affordable than other drones that are beginning to sound strong in the market. If we want a complete experience, with remote control and all the applications, the price increases considerably, 949 euros.
In that case I would think enough about buying another solution that records better video, but of course, each one has their needs, if the priority is to fly, this Bebop is fantastic for its capabilities, ease of use and transport.
A strong point of the drone is its autonomy, exceeding 20 minutes of flight with ease is a striking fact in this world, it seems little, but the competition does not get more. In addition, batteries are not expensive and we can get hold of a few.
The Parrot Bebop 2 is an ideal option to enter the world of drones: relatively affordable price, a fairly high autonomy, and ease of use. That the basic control is a phone has its advantages and disadvantages, whoever wants more can always buy the Skycontroller
- Excellent autonomy for a drone
- We can use it with the mobile
- Easily transportable
- All parts are replaceable
- Video stability and fluidity
- Touch control does not give the same sensitivity
- Skycontroller is too expensive
- The quality of the photos could be better
- Memory is fixed, a card slot would be nice
The terminal has been loaned for testing by Parrot. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises.
In the making of the video we have Pedro Santamaría.
For piloting, flight advice and access to the flight field we have the company ICO Drones.