Parrot Mambo Drone review
Fire a canon, drop a bomb, do tricks with Parrot’s latest minidrone
- Stable and precise
- Flying BB gun!
- Expensive in a crowded market
- Works better with optional Flypad
Everyone will like playing with this and it might be a gateway drug (for some) into the world of drones. At $200 it's affordable. But there are cheaper options available.
Back in the olden days we’d marvel at radio controlled plane enthusiasts flying very-expensive planes very skillfully to the point where they’d even come in for a graceful landing. If you stayed long enough you’d normally see a catastrophic failure of some kind and one of them hurtling towards earth in more than one piece. But no matter how young you were, you knew there’d be no point in asking to have a go. It just wasn’t going to happen.
Now here we are with a drone that takes off from your desk, holds its position while you try and work out the controls then floats off to your target and shoots them with a BB gun. All in less than a minute from turning it on. What a time to be alive.
Indeed, Parrot’s new latest drone is just 15cm square and weighs 63g. It has removable buffers to protect it when flying indoors. It has a Lego-brick styled hot-shoe for attaching the BB canon, a grabber or a note holder.
It’s all controlled by Parrot’s FreeFlight Mini app which offers two on-screen dials to change direction and do its tricks. There are three controller layouts to try which exchange access to complex maneuverability with ease of use.
The drone takes about 20mins to charge and offers about 5mins flying time.
The controls are simple enough though while they take seconds to learn they take many minutes of flight time to master – keeping your fingers in the right spot in onscreen circles while looking at the drone is not simple. It’s much better using the optional $70 FlyPad controller which has proper joysticks.
Nonetheless, it’s not easy to make it whizz off and crash.
To launch you either press the take-off button or throw it (our favourite) and watch it stay in the air hovering. Pressing the fire button with the canon attached withdraws a spring-bolt and then fires one of its six small pellets. Don’t expect to ever find these again. Parrot includes a small bag but you’ll need more.
The grabber can hold on to very small and light (4g) objects and drop them on people. A note holder can hold a note… sometimes.
There is a camera (480 x 640 resolution) but it’s fixed downwards and not very good: you can’t navigate with it – operation is by line of sight only.
Geeky types will like that it comes with a Linux-based SDK to program it.
This would all be great if it was quiet but it sounds like a very large angry wasp and it annoyed everyone in our office.
Outside, with all of its buffers and add-ons removed it showed itself to be that bit more maneuverable and could execute its preprogrammed tricks like flips and spins.
It has a top speed of 30KM/h and stood up well to constant stiff breeze. Range is 20m via mobile device or 60m via the Flypad.
Should you buy it?
This is becoming a crowded market and you can buy even smaller and cheaper drones than this – including from Parrot itself – the $50-cheaper Airborne Cargo is the same thing but has hidden compartments (for smuggling or bombing runs) instead of the canon and grabber.
As such, while everyone will have some fun with the Mambo, it’s not the best value out there but it is in Christmas Present range and will make any recipient very happy.
For how long? Who knows? But it could be a great entry point for a more-professional model.
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