Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand or your bag but noisy enough to annoy everyone around you – that’s the Rolling Spider Minidrone from Parrot. The Rolling Spider is a small and easy-to-use “drone” which is aimed at novices to get their piloting ambitions off the around (see what I did there?). Though small and compact, the Rolling Spider only has 8 minutes of flying time which is reduced slightly when you start doing tricks – but more on that later.
The Rolling Spider is a very small and compact quadcopter. Out of the box, construction is simple – simply attach the wheels which click into place and insert the battery. The wheels are optional but they do serve to protect the drone from crashing into walls… or people. Additionally, they’ll also allow the Rolling Spider to climb up walls and along ceilings. In the box, you’ll find the Rolling Spider itself, the detachable wheels, a few stickers to put onto the drone, the battery and a USB charging cable.
You’ll come quite attached to that charging cable since battery life is only 8 minutes per charge. When you’ve used up you’re 8 minutes, then you’ll be waiting just under 1 hour and 30 minutes until the battery charges completely. Once it’s charged, you’ll need to unplug the USB cable, wait until the LED lights at the front turn to green and you’re ready to go.
Your controller is your iOS, Android or Windows 8 device with the FreeFlight 3 application. It’s a free download and available for the platforms mentioned. The iPhone uses Bluetooth Low Energy to connect to the drone and it’s a relatively simple process. Once you’re connected, you’ll be placed into Normal mode which is the easiest to use. Simply tap Take Off and the drone will automatically start up and start hovering, waiting for your next command. To start controlling the drone, you’ll just need to place one finger on the left control and use the phone’s accelerometer to direct it’s flight path.
Joypad mode is a slightly more advanced mode but gives you more control over the drone. You’ll be given two traditional joysticks with the left stick controlling elevation and orientation while the right stick moving the drone up, down, left and right. Double tapping the screen will see the drone doing a flip – beware though, each flip will guzzle through 6% of your battery.
A number of settings are available in the FreeFlight app including speed and maximum altitude. This is particularly helpful if you’re outside as then it won’t fly away too much. There is also a big red emergency button. Pushing that will cut the monitors instantly and the Rolling Spider will drop to the ground. Particularly handy if you’ve lost control.
Weighing in at just 55 grams, the Rolling Spider is extremely zippy when flying around. However, there is a downside to such a small drone, if you’re using it outside, even the smallest amount of wind can pick it up and carry it far away, like it did in my case – however, luckily I was able to get it back (whoops).
With the large wheels attached, you are able to climb up walls, zip across the ceiling or floor with ease, however, this does cause take off to be a little rocky. I’ve found that if you’ve got the wheels attached, take off from your hand instead of the floor. You’ll be able to perform a set amount of tricks as well including back flips, front flips and barrel rolls.
The Rolling Spider does have a camera on the bottom as well which allows you to take pictures mid-flight. However, the camera wasn’t all that great and pictures were very grainy and small in resolution. I didn’t bother with taking any pictures other than a few to test it out.
7.5 / 10
Easy to use, small construction
Battery only lasts for 8 minutes, takes longer to charge
Cool little toy but fun is very restricted with small batter life
In conclusion, if you’re looking to get into the drone flying business or looking for a relatively cheap little toy for a friend or family member, the Rolling Spider would be a great choice. The joystick flying mode will give a close to authentic experience when flying a quadcopter and will give you the necessary skills to upgrade to something more advanced in the future like a DJI Phantom or even building your own mutlicopter.