French drone manufacturer has made a second product announcement this month, with the launch of a new Bebop 2: the Bebop 2 Power. The upgraded model has improved hardware and software, as well as an impressive 30 minutes of flight time.
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The Parrot Bebop 2 – The Basics
Parrot’s latest drone has been a long time coming. By drone industry standards, anyway. The original Bebop 2 launched in the winter of 2015. A follow-up to the popular quadcopter has been in the wings while DJI has gone on to establish its Phantom range, launch the Mavic Pro and the miniature Spark. So how does the new Bebop 2 Power stand up against competition that has slowly filled the consumer drone space in the meantime?
On paper, it looks like an interesting proposition. Its most notable aspects are the flight time – a very respectable 30 minutes – and value for money. As of now, it’s available to order on the Parrot website for $599. How exactly that represents good value will soon become clear.
The main things that you need to know about the new Parrot Bebop 2 Power are that it’s come a long way since the lovable but restricted Bebop 2. Parrot has put plenty of effort in to make sure this is a more rounded drone with technology and features to appeal to all pilots.
Weighing in at 1.15 lbs./525g, the Parrot Bebop 2 Power has an extended flight time of 30 minutes that matches even the top-end consumer drones. Better still, it comes with two batteries as standard, so that’s an hour in the air.
There are also upgrades to the image stabilization, a range of new flight modes, palm take-off, an FPV system included, a new Skycontroller and a matte-black finish. The drone can also be flown directly with Parrot’s FreeFlight Pro app.
One area where the Bebop 2 Power does appear to fall short is in the camera department. Its camera is equipped with a 14-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that allows you to film in Full HD at 30fps. JPEG and Adobe DNG RAW images can be captured for retouching during post-production. Also present are a customized wide-angle lens and cutting-edge anti-distortion technology to provide bright and clear aerial shots.
Parrot’s patented 3-axis digital stabilization technology reduces vibrations and aliasing effects.
The lack of 4k footage might be a downer for some, but the videos we’ve seen so far still look pretty spectacular.
Shoot like a pro with computer-assisted flight modes and stabilization
There are several flight modes designed to make your life easier while flying.
Cameraman: Like a director’s assistant, this mode allows you to take perfect videos and photos effortlessly. Just double-tap the screen on your smartphone to focus or slide a finger on the screen to position your subject into the frame. With this built-in artificial intelligence, you can now focus on piloting and the Parrot Bebop 2 Power will capture the perfect shot. Even if the subject is moving, its position will remain the same in the frame.
Magic Dronies: Capture the ultimate “dronie” using the Parrot Bebop 2 Power’s four automatic movements, which use visual recognition and your smartphone’s GPS position. The Orbit, Tornado, Parabola or Boomerang modes capture the dramatic visual effect you select while ensuring you’re in the center of the frame at all times.
Follow Me with GPS and visual tracking: Integrated into the Parrot Bebop 2 Power, this feature gives the drone the capacity to follow your every step, record your adventures, and keep you in the center of the video – even during extreme sports activities.
Auto Shots: There are four pre-programmed flying movements to capture landscape views with sophisticated photographic features and camera effects. These are the 360, Reveal, Epic and Rise presets.
Take-off from Your Palm
As seen with the DJI Spark, the Parrot Bebop 2 Power can take off from the palm of your hand. Downward facing sensors can tell if the drone is on the ground or in your hand. If Parrot Bebop 2 Power is on your hand, click on the app or Parrot Skycontroller 2 take-off button and propellers will turn slowly. Then, (if you’re brave) throw the Parrot Bebop 2 Power in front of you. The propellers will accelerate until they stabilize the drone and it will hover in place.
Flying FPV with the Bebop Power 2
Parrot has certainly ticked as many boxes as possible with the Bebop 2 Power. The drone also comes with the company’s new Cockpitglasses 2. These are compatible with the majority of smartphones and place you at the heart of the action with a wide, 96-degree field of view.
The FPV goggles combine with the different piloting modes that can be selected before take-off. These include a ‘Sport’ mode, which releases the drone’s power and is ideal for FPV drone races. In this mode the Bebop 2 Power has a top speed of 40 mph (65km/h).
Safety Features: Where the Bebop 2 Power Falls Short?
Unfortunately for Parrot fans hoping the new Bebop would have an element of obstacle avoidance, there’s nothing to be seen here. Instead, Parrot hopes that a flashing electric blue light on the back of the drone will help to keep you safe, as well as an editable geo-fence system and a smart return to home feature.
The app also has a FindMyDrone setting, which indicates the last recorded GPS position of the drone and guides you to it.
The Bebop 2 Power – Our Conclusion
Parrot’s new drone is a solid entry to the consumer market at a great price: $599. That value for money is found in the extras that come with the Bebop 2 Power. A spare battery, Parrot’s SkyController 2 and an FPV set are all the kind of things you’d have to pay DJI hundreds of dollars for. These accessories help to give pilots more flexibility, both in terms of flight time and what they can actually do with the drone.
It’s clear the Bebop 2 Power isn’t supposed to compete with the Mavic Pro, the Phantom 4 or the Phantom 4 Pro. Instead, it’s sitting in the market just underneath. It’s for the drone-curious – perhaps the target market of the Spark. But interestingly, it could be popular with commercial pilots, too. Parrot has already pivoted the original Bebop 2 and the Disco towards commercial flyers, after all.
Maybe this new drone is also a viable alternative for those who, like in the promotional videos, are looking for something rugged that can stay in the air for as long as possible and get the job done. The ability to choose your own geo-fence could make it a solid backup in case DJI’s GeoFencing system has you grounded.
We’re expecting to receive a review unit in the near future, so we’ll take the Bebop 2 Power through its paces and see how it measures up against, in particular, DJI’s Spark and Mavic Pro. Look out for that feature when it drops.