Attack of the drones
At The Lowdown we understand that getting the most out of your smartphone is important. Admittedly, there’s a long list of awesome things our mobiles can do these days, but few are as exciting as flying a miniature quad-copter.
For our drone’s maiden voyage we took it to the park, and it turns out it’s not as easy as it looks on YouTube. This is how we got on.
To begin with, we should highlight the importance of reading the instructions before take off – something we were too excited to do before our first flight, which predictably resulted in the drone getting stuck in a tree. We weren’t off to a good start.
A breezy 20 minutes later and we were back on the ground, frantically leafing through the small booklet we should have utilised earlier.
This is probably a good opportunity to tell you what else is in the box. Apart from the drone itself, you get two shells (one for indoor use, and the other for outdoor), a battery charger, some stickers, and various international plug adapters to make sure you can use the drone abroad.
You’ll also need to download the drone’s app, which is called AR.FreeFlight. We’d recommend doing this while connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network because it’s pretty sizeable. The drone generates its own Wi-Fi network that’ll you’ll need to connect to control it. It’ll also ask you to flick on location services, so do what it says.
I believe I can fly
To get started, remove the shell and make sure the battery is connected. After you’ve done this, each propeller will twitch and some lights will flicker to let you know it’s tuned in.
Got it? Great – strap that shell back on and hit ‘Take Off’ on the app and the drone will spring to life, statically (and quite ominously) hovering about one metre off the ground. Here it will await its next instruction. You’ll notice that the drone will be transmitting a live video feed to your handset too, which is available in 420p standard definition and 720p high definition.
If you want to save and record footage, you’ll need to connect a USB stick to the drone – the input is next to the battery pack under its shell. Once that’s done, just tap the record button at the top of the app screen and everything will save to your USB.
The controls are a little confusing to begin with as there are several settings that can be changed via the app. The easiest method of flight we found was using the on-screen joy pads – orientated so that the drone would respond to whichever direction we were facing. It can get a bit confusing if ‘forward’ is whichever way the drone is facin
Pushing the limits
The drone’s app indicates that it can climb to an altitude of 100m (320ft, or a smidge taller than Big Ben), but we didn’t get it that high. It was pretty blustery for starters, but it didn’t seem to want to get any higher than about 25m (82ft). Even at that height some loss of control was apparent, not to mention the fact that it would be quite difficult to see at 100m anyway.
The app also tells us that the drone has a vertical top speed of 2000mm per second, which simple maths will tell us is 2m per second. We didn’t experience this claim either, but possibly in an enclosed, wind-free environment it might be a different story. It wasn’t drastically slower to get in the air, and to be fair, this didn’t really make much difference to our experience.
A drone is pretty much the modern day equivalent of a kite. Get your mates together, head to the park and stare into the sky. It was fun then, and it’s fun now. Of course, a drone is a little bit more expensive than a kite but it's one hell of a lot more fun. Check out Currys' deals here.