From the first time I hit take off I was having a blast with the Parrot Mambo Mini Drone, boy is that a mouthful. This was my first time piloting a drone, and it was really as simple as that to get started.
Well maybe not that simple. Before I could start flying I had to apply two updates and it takes awhile to transfer them to the drone and install. Standing there for almost 20 minutes to wait for two updates to install is killer. Especially when you’re wanting to play with your new toy.
The updates and all controls are done through the FreeFlight Mini app on your phone. The layout is simple and easy to use. The drone connects over Bluetooth and has a great range. I was able to fly at least 40ft. away and never had an issue with the signal.
The Parrot Mamba Mini Drone definitely lives up to the mini part in it’s name. It’s not the smallest drone I’ve seen, but it will fit in the palm of your hand. As a matter of fact it will even take off from your hand. Which is a cool little trick to show off to your friends.
After powering on the drone and opening the app it’ll take a few seconds for it to scan, find the drone, and connect. Once it has you hit start, choose whether or not you have hulls attached, and you’re on your way.
Flying was actually really simple. Take offs and landings are done with a simple one button push. After taking off the Parrot Mambo Mini Drone immediately spins up, and hovers in place a couple of feet off the ground awaiting your command.
Now I say flying is simple because as someone who has never flown a drone before, I had no issues getting the feel of the controls. That doesn’t mean I never crashed it. I most certainly did, but that was until after a few flights when I started getting cocky. I started to get more daring after a few practice flights. I’d say this falls into the category of easy to learn, but hard to master.
So to answer another question, yes it can stand up to some crashes. In my usage it only ever fell from a few feet, but there was no damage done. I was able to start it right back up and go on flying. Parrot has you covered in case you do cause some damage. Offering plenty of replacement parts, and even toolkits for repairing the Mamba Mini Drone.
The Parrot Mambo Mini Drone is capable of more than just hovering around. The app gives you access to a few tricks. These mostly consist of it doing flips from either the left or right side, or from front or the back. These are accessed from a menu button from the top right joystick. After choosing which flip you want you simply double tap the center between the joysticks to activate.
To be honest after doing these once or twice I lost interest. The preprogrammed flips would be cool to show all your friends, but again after once or twice the novelty kinda wears off.
I found simply flying the drone around trying to weave in between objects more fun than it’s little tricks. Thankfully the Mambo Mini Drone has yet even more up it’s sleeves. Included are two attachments. One being a cannon, and the other a grabber arm.
After attaching to the drone and connecting the brick on the top. These are both auto detected by the app and a button is added between the two joysticks. Making it easy to trigger either of them.
Let’s start with the grabber arm because it’s arguably the less exciting of the two, and I’ll tell you why. First it only lifts 4g which is not a lot, but what do you expect from a mini drone after all? This limits you to objects such as homemade flags, marshmallows, possibly Lego men.
Second it doesn’t extend out past the propellers. Meaning it makes it nearly impossible to pick up objects while flying. Trust me I sucked up a straw into the propellers trying, and that was one of my crashes. It wasn’t worth risking further damage to keep attempting in my opinion.
Basically you have to load an object into the grabber arm before take off. You can then transport it somewhere. That in itself can be entertaining, but as soon as you drop your object you’re going to have to land to reload again. Which just becomes very tedious and wasn’t all that fun.
Now for the canon, which is way more fun. It comes with a bag of pellets to shoot which are very similar to air soft pellets. The pellets are lightweight, bounce, and go everywhere. I’ve already lost a few, so be warned.
Loading is simple enough but takes more pressure than I expected, and it can hold up to six balls at a time. The cannon fires with more power than I thought it would. Don’t worry it’s not enough to hurt anyone, unless you shoot them in the eye. DO NOT shoot them in the eye!
It’s enough pressure to have fun setting up some plastic cups or other lightweight targets. However while it hovers in place it does shift it’s position a little here and there. Plus the lag between the time you press fire and it winds up to fire does cause some misses. In other words it’s not super accurate. That still didn’t stop me from having a great time with it though, for five minutes at a time.
That’s right the included battery only gives you roughly five minutes of flight time per charge. While flying it I honestly thought it lasted more than five minutes. I guess I was just having so much fun that it felt longer. The app keeps a record of your flight times, and after checking I was surprised to see they were all slightly over five minutes. Needless to say if you don’t want the fun to stop at five minutes you can buy spare batteries
Problem is the batteries charge inside the drone itself using a micro USB connection on the Mamba Mini Drone. Thankfully there are also external chargers for the spare batteries available online. This keeps you from having to swap them and only charge within the drone itself. Charge time for the battery itself is a good 20-30 minutes. Making a spare battery and charger seem even more appealing.
Overall coming in at right around $100 dollars the Parrot Mamba Mini Drone is a lot of fun, and very easy to fly. It’s certain to provide you with hours of fun, five minutes at a time that is. Plus seems pretty durable and easy to get parts for. You can find it over at AT&T thanks to them for lending this out for review.