2014 Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider Quadcopter Review: Best Drone For Kids?

Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider - What's The Big Deal?

While I spend the most time flying my Phantom 2 Vision+, I'm always on the lookout for new cheap drones that I can buy, test, and review, especially onoes that are good for kids. My wife calls it an addiction; I call it a pretty awesome hobby.

Either way, when a designer at Parrot contacted me and let me know that the MiniDrone Rolling Spider was coming down the pike, I started putting my pennies together in order to bring one home. Since it costs under $100, it was an easier sell to the wife, and from the time I've spent playing with my production model, it's worth every dollar. My kids love it, and won't let me have it any more.

 Structure, Design, and Guts

The MiniDrone Rolling Spider is a small drone that somehow still reminds me of Parrot's much larger AR. Drone, which I have a ton of fun flying whenever I want something different from my Phantom. I'm not sure where the similarity comes from, but it's there. Perhaps if the AR Drone were hit by a shrink ray and given a set of awesome side wheels.

Being smaller means there isn't as much room for some of the features that make the AR. Drone one of my favorites to use. For example, there is only one camera present instead of two, and it points straight down. However, that's not something that'll keep first time pilots or kids from enjoying it.

Out of the box, the MiniDrone Rolling Spider is rather straightforward to assemble, which makes sense since it's mostly targeted at either kids or adults who haven't flown drones before but are suffering from a serious case of drone envy. There are sticker sets in the box in case you want to make yours look more unique, and they aren't nearly as cheesy as I thought they would be.

There are a pair of plastic wheels that you can attach to the MiniDrone Rolling Spider or leave off; if you leave them on, you can fly the drone up walls and pretend you're scaling them like Neo in The Matrix. I personally found them most useful for keeping the tiny plastic propellers away from our cats, which were drawn to the drone more than they typically are.

OK, a bit more about the camera. It's capable of shooting video and streaming it on the fly, which I like, and it's the typical wide angle that we've come to expect from most cameras attached to drones. The resolution is rather low at .3MP, but considering that this isn't a drone you're buying for surveillance photography, it's not that bad.

If you're looking for built in HD coverage of the car chase you're hovering above, you'll want to look toward the larger AR Drone or the Phantom FC40, Phantom 2 Vision, or Phantom 2 Vision+, which is my favorite of the three. Yes, I have all three. Maybe my wife is right when she calls it an addiction.

At any rate, the design touches clearly illustrate that this is a drone designed for people interested in having light fun with an affordable drone. It's a small little thing that even fits in your hand! I still have trouble getting over that, as this is definitely the smallest drone I've ever flown. I weighed it with my personal scale and it comes in at 55 grams, which is only 1/6th of my AR. Drone. However, thanks to Parrot's ever-impressive technological know-how, you still get a pressure sensor so the drone can figure out the flight altitude as well as an ultrasonic sensor that allows you to fly precisely while you're close to the ground. And the camera I mentioned? It's capable of shooting at 60fps. Not bad, right?

What's It Like to Use It?
This is my favorite part of any review, and let's be honest: it's why you've read this far. It's a fun little drone to fly! It's a drone controlled through smart phones, which I'm not very used to, since I'm old school and prefer a radio transmitter, but I have to admit that the smartphone gets the job done.

I time the flight time at around 8 minutes without the wheels and 6 minutes while the wheels were attached, which is right in line with Parrot's estimates. It might be a good idea to buy an extra Lithium-Polymer battery (or 2, or 3) in order to have a good amount of fun before surrendering all of the batteries to the nearest charger. Charging takes 90 minutes.

The range is limited to 20 meters, or around 66 feet, which is more than enough to play around with given the small size of the drone. I measured its top speed as around 11 mph via my pocket radar gun, which matches perfectly with what Parrot told me to expect.

There are a number of tricks you can do with the drone, and you can even download the ways to do them through the MiniDrones FreeFlight 3 app that Parrot make available for download. For example, you can perform u-turns as well as half-turns simply by swiping your smartphone, and by clicking you can perform front and rear loops. The app uses Bluetooth Smart to connect to the MiniDrone, and is fully iOS and Android compatible. If you decide to buy the MiniDrone Jumping Sumo, you can also use it to control that drone too.

The stability of a drone is something important to me, as there's nothing less useful than a drone that can't balance enough to stay in the air before tipping randomly toward the nearest animal, child, or grandmother. Fortunately, there are several stability systems built into the MiniDrone Rolling Spider, including an ultrasonic sensor, a pressure sensor and the vertical camera I mentioned earlier, and a 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope. The drone isn't rock solid, but it's stable enough that I wouldn't have any concerns handing my phone over to a child after a few minutes of practice.

Should I Buy It?

In short, yes. It's a cheap, fun, and exciting drone that works well out of the box and is kid-friendly enough to use as a first drone for kids. I can verify that both girls and boys enjoy it, and you can use the stickers on it to customize it to your kids' preferences. I'd like a longer flight time, but that's easily solvable with extra batteries. Overall, for a first drone, it's a solid little machine that can be used as a stepping stone to more expensive drones or as the only drone you might ever need.

I completely recommend the Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider. You can buy it from Amazon here.


Hi! My name is Mike, and I'm the author of this personal drone blog. If you find the information on my flying drone review blog useful, you can shop through Amazon here.

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