The Parrot BeBop 2 drone faces increasing competition from popular ones like the DJI Mavic Pro. It’s almost been a year since it was released, but is it still a compelling purchase? Let’s find out.
Build Quality and Design
First thing I noticed about the drone was how light it was. There was heft but it seemed like most of its weight was from its rechargeable battery. Even without a scale the drone’s stated weight of 500 grams seems plausible.
With great image stabilisation and a 14MP lens built in, you could record 1080p video and shoot pictures with the BeBop 2 in windy conditions – or even at flight speeds of up to 60km per hour. (Watch the video review to view some footage of how stable the shots are.) For more serious photographers, the BeBop 2 also supports shooting pictures in RAW or DNG format. It also has an internal hard drive of 8GB to store the footage.
You could then transfer all that footage into your phone. However, it takes quite a long time for videos to be transferred with our 1GB video taking 15 minutes! And its 8GB internal memory was pretty restrictive. Soon I was running out and had to keep transferring videos to my phone. I really prefer having a microSD card slot so that I could store more videos in an external 64GB card then swap it out when it’s full.
The propellor arms are not retractable like in the DJI Mavic Pro, so I had to remove the propellors before transport, and reattach them using a small Allen key before flying. After stuffing the SkyController 2 remote and FPV goggles, there was little space left in my bag for the drone, so I had to lug it in a separate hand-carry. If you could spare the extra dough, the Parrot BeBop 2 Backpack might make a sound investment.
You could either use the FreeFlight Pro App (iOS/Android) to operate the drone but I prefer using the Skycontroller 2 remote. It’s more intuitive with physical buttons that’s laid out like a game controller. It also gives you greater range, up to 300m, although that is a disputed figure. I couldn’t test it as Marina Barrage is a pretty small area and I was worried it might fall out of range.
I also like the fact that the SkyController 2 remote is laid out like an Xbox remote, complete with triggers. Being a gamer myself this made it really simple to operate the drone.
The FPV headset is for all intents and purposes – VR goggles using your phone. A phone case slips out with an outlet for a cable that you need to connect to the SkyController 2 remote. You can mount your phone on the controller as a screen to see what the Bebop 2’s seeing, or slot your phone in the FPV headset for more immersion. These are basically VR goggles so there’s pretty good depth of field, although the screen resolution wasn’t impressive. However, I do not recommend using the FPV goggles in the hot sun like I did as during my flight my phone heated up pretty quickly in the headset and even died for a while.
You could purchase extra batteries and swap them out when they’re dead. But it’s odd that the drone and its controller don’t share the same charging adapters or cables. You will need to bring 2 sets of chargers should you like to take the drone overseas. It would have been much more convenient if they charge over USB.
I was flying the drone at Singapore’s Marina Barrage. The BeBop 2 was highly responsive in the air and stable despite horrible wind conditions. It moved quite fast but I was impressed that it was nimble enough to stop when I wanted it to. It climbs and yaws pretty quickly too.
As mentioned earlier, I couldn’t test how far the drone could go before it loses its signal, since Marina Barrage is surrounded by open water on one side and roads on the other. But at nearly 100 metres away, there wasn’t any signal loss and it didn’t affect the video feed.
Videos were recorded at 1080p 30 frames, but the picture quality wasn’t impressive. There’s simply too much grain and edginess in the picture that made videos and photos appear fuzzy. Colours were muted (especially greens) which made all that greenery around me appear lethargic. In comparison, my old Sony camera did a much better job capturing detail and colours than the BeBop 2 drone.
I got out around 20 minutes of flight time on a single charge, which is close to Parrot’s stated endurance of 25 minutes. The real bummer here is that i couldn’t find a power point nearby to charge the drone and the battery. It would have been nice if the both of them accepted USB charging from my power bank.
The Parrot BeBop 2 has been out for almost a year and retails for S$1399 with the FPV goggles and SkyController 2 remote, or S$899 without the goggles. At this price it faces intense competition from drones like the DJI Mavic Pro (S$1499) and the DJI Spark (S$799), both are popular for its fold-in propellors, advanced hand-gesture controls, tracking features, and great picture quality. The Mavic Pro could even record videos in 4K. The best case that I can make for the BeBop 2 at this point is the included FPV goggles, which the Mavic Pro does not already include but has to be purchased separately. The BeBop 2 has been out for quite a while so I’m keeping fingers crossed for a new release soon!
Specs of the Parrot BeBop 2 Drone available here.