When it works, it's brilliant. In fact, it works right up to the point that you lose control of it. Buyers everywhere are angry about this one, and not without cause.
- Unbelievable flying experience
- Full bundle includes FPV goggles (requires smartphone)
- When it functions as advertised, it's a thrill to fly
- Disconnect message may mean you lose the drone forever
- Front camera design prone to scratching upon landing
- Parrot technical support hides behind flight data
Parrot Disco Full Review
Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Parrot, the company behind the wildly popular AR and Bebop drones, showed off a radically new drone: a fixed-wing, FPV streaming technological wonder called the Disco. While it functions much like a traditional remote control airplane, it takes several pages from the book of drones, and adds a few of its own. One, you can launch the Disco merely by tossing it in the air. From there, it’ll climb to 50 meters and begin circling around while you get situated and ready to pilot it.
Parrot Skycontroller 2 and Cockpitglasses FPV
To control it, you can either use your smart phone locked into the all-new, compact Skycontroller 2, or, you can insert your smartphone into the included Cockpitglasses FPV streaming googles set, and get a truly immersive flying experience. The latter has people buzzing. The Parrot Disco can fly 50 miles per hour, and is extremely maneuverable.
The Parrot Disco has a 14MP camera, with 3-axis stabilization. This provides a crisp, clear picture while flying and streaming, as well as records some amazing footage. The Parrot Disco’s camera records at 1080P and includes a 32GB MicroSD card.
At the heart of the Parrot Disco is CHUCK, which stands for Control Hub and Universal Computer Kit. CHUCK combines all of the sensors that make the Disco a joy to fly, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, GPS/GLONASS system, and airspeed tube. These sensors and the onboard computer combine with the forward-facing camera to give you an amazing Heads Up Display (HUD), jet-like experience with the Cockpitglasses. The Parrot Disco flies for up to 45 minutes, and can be constrained with geo-fencing coordinates to keep it in a range you wish to set. The Disco can be controlled up to 1.2 miles.
Almost immediately after launch, the reports started rolling in about issues and problems with the Disco. When it works, it’s amazing. But when it doesn’t, it becomes a fleeting glimpse of $1300 flying away, never to return, or crashing to the ground in a spectacular fashion, with Parrot technical support claiming that the flight data “doesn’t support” the claims of the customer. You’re then looking at an incredibly expensive toy that some people only got one flight out of. Some customers lose signal to the Disco, others experience a scratched lens when it lands, even if every other aspect of flight was perfect.
So, what could be wrong with this drone?
There’s several possible scenarios:
- Physical design flaw – it is possible that the electronic transmission system, or the limitations of CHUCK are responsible. Either way, there’s complaints about the forward-angled camera getting scratched upon landing, even among those customers who never have another issue.
- Firmware/software issue – just because you lose signal does not mean that the design is bad. It is possible that an update to either CHUCK or the controller, or even the software, could alleviate this issue. Even if there is a possible limitation to the hardware, tweaking the Disco so that it returns to its launch point, every time without fail, would eliminate the fly-away issue, which we consider to be inexcusable for a drone equipped with the best GPS hardware on the market.
- Manufacturing flaw – we consider this the least likely scenario, but it is possible that somewhere between prototyping and initial production runs that a component could have been substituted at the factory that may have led to these issues.
We’re seeing markedly different experiences from those who received them in the press. With a 2.5/5 rating on Amazon, it can’t just be one or two people who don’t understand how to fly a drone:
Either way, it’s disturbing to hear little or nothing out of Parrot on this issue. Customers are very upset. And with other fantastic options being released more and more, the fixed-wing allure and excitement may drive others to newer traditional drones like the DJI Mavic.
For now, we’re putting the Disco on our wait-and-see list.
- Assisted controls and anti-stall autopilot make piloting easier than ever. Parrot Disco takes off and lands by itself, and maintains altitude and flight path autonomously
- Parrot Disco's innovative aerodynamic design and high-speed engine enable up to 50 mph speeds and 45 minutes of flight time.
- Built-in front-nose 1080p camera with 3-axis digital stabilization and 32GB of internal memory.
- Removable wings with reinforced leading edges and carbon tubes. High-speed engine and 8'' foldable propeller
- Bundle includes our new FPV Cockpit glasses and compact Skycontroller 2
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