Parrot Disco FPV Review

This is a one of a kind drone! It features a rare design, which instead of using a hexacopter or quadcopter design, it has a single rear prop and fixes-wing design. Therefore, it’s basically an airplane. This gives you a flight experience that is like no other drone you’ve flown before. However, you’ll need a good amount of empty space for the landings. As fun as Disco FPV is to fly, it’s not going to be practical for numerous locations. We wouldn’t suggest this drone for aerial photographers or videographers, as there are other great options like the DJI Phantom 4 or Phantom 4 Pro.

DESIGN

The Parrot Disco is a large foam airplane with a single rear propeller, a nose-mounted camera, detachable wings, and an advanced flight controller. It measures 4.7 by 45.0 by 23.0 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.6 pounds. Due to its weight, you will need to register with the FAA before flying and follow the same rules you would if it were a quadcopter.

It features a black and white color scheme. When purchasing, you’ll also receive a VR headset and the compact Skycontroller 2 remote control. The Skycontroller remind us of an Xbox controller with a large antenna attached to it. There’s also a clip to mount your smartphone. If you enjoy the FPV flight experience, you can lock your phone into the FPV goggles.

The Disco ships in a box with neat cardboard inserts to keep everything organized, and a plastic carrying handle. Although, we don’t recommend that you use the Disco in its box. However, Parrot does have a cool backpack that was designed to transport the aircraft.

 

 

FLIGHT

Once you’ve attached the wings, ensuring that the aileron motors are locked in place properly, it’s very easy to get the Disco in the air. You may find that you’ll need to calibrate its compass, but the app will guide you through that process which only involves spinning the drone on three axes. We found that it also acquires a GPS lock very quickly.

The Skycontroller is a requirement to fly this drone. Simply plug your iPhone or Android into the controller and start the Parrot FreeFlight pro app. To launch the drone you will need to hold it by the bottom and press down on the takeoff/landing button on the controller. You will feel the rear propeller start to spin, throw the drone upward into the air.

If done properly, it will ascent steeply to 165 feet, which is the default but you can change it in the app, and it will fly in a circular holding pattern. If you aren’t successful, the disco will crash to the ground. However, it’s designed to land like that and the worst case scenario is that you’ll just have to clean off the lens. During our review, we found that it took a little practice to get it into the air successfully on every attempt.

Controlling the Disco is very simple. You use the left stick to put the aircraft back into a holding pattern by moving it left or right and to adjust its speed – backward makes it slow down and forward makes it speed up. The right stick is used to ascend, descend, or bank right or left. On your phone’s screen, you’ll have a live feed from the camera while flying, a horizon indicator, telemetry data, and video and still capture controls.

This drone really flies itself. The onboard flight controller makes it so you don’t have to have any fixed-wing aircraft flying experience to keep it in the air. You won’t find yourself having to worry about setting the throttle, adjusting the flaps, or putting the aircraft into an ascent that could possibly cause it to stall.

Landing is easier than it would seem, all you need is some open space. We utilized a local park which has a couple acres of open grassy area and we were able to bring it down in a steep descent until it was close to the ground, then landed it gently by using the controller’s landing button. You can also land in an automated circular pattern, but you’ll need at least 262 feet around the center of the circle to use this landing method.

With the Disco you will receive a set of FPV goggles. However, we don’t really recommend that you use them with the drone and the FAA frowns upon it as well. Their guidelines state that you should keep your drone within line of sight during operation. Although you can use the live feed on your phone’s screen, we feel it’s a poor substitute for your eyes.

To be honest, we were a little nervous when using the goggles because of the speed and power the Disco has. We feel that first-person flight makes a lot more sense when piloting racing drones, but not high fliers like the Disco.

RANGE & PERFORMANCE

Parrot states that the Disco has an operating range of about 1.2 miles, we were able to achieve 1 miles with ideal conditions. We didn’t experience any choppy signals or anything like that. If you’re worried about flying too far away from you, you can use the Geofence option in the app to limit the distance it can fly from its launch point.

The only drawback of the Disco is that you need a large open space to use it. Therefore, we didn’t really test this drone in a suburban setting. We didn’t feel comfortable landing it where a lot of people would be around.

As far as speed goes, I was able to achieve 59mph according to the flight logs. But, the average speed was more around 43mph. Parrot actually states that the top speed is 50mph, I must have had some tailwind when I achieved 59mph. Battery life will vary depending on how you’re flying, and we averaged around 35 minutes of flying time per charge. That amount of flight time is rather good considering most quadcopters will only get you around 25 minutes of flight time per charge.

Flight logs can show your flight path over a world maps, and keep track of altitude and speed. It’s a fun way of seeing how fast you flew and where you have taken it in the world. We did notice that the logs aren’t as good as DJI’s, but they are still a good resource and fun to analyze.

VIDEO & IMAGE QUALITY

The Disco record video with no audio at 720p or 1080p. If you’re using the goggles, the capture resolution is capped at 720p. The video quality is good enough, but nothing to write home about. We noticed the footage seems to be lacking some detail and is a little on the soft side. However, it’s very steady due to the good digital image stabilization.

It’s actually utilizing a small part of its lens when capturing video. If you look at Raw stills you will notice that the lens is a circular fish-eye design. The 16:9 video frame is digitally cropped from the full field of view. The camera is backed by a 13.6MP image sensor and a 1080p video frame is only 2MP, therefore the problem is within the quality of the lens. You can slightly notice this in still images, which appear to be somewhat soft when you look at the closely.

While the camera itself can’t tilt, the lens design does give you the option to adjust the angle of the video. You have the option to pan down or up to get more ground or sky in your shots. We were able to fly above a moving car on a road and pan the camera down to track it from above as it travelled.

CONCLUSIONS

To this point, we told you that the Parrot Disco FPV is large and rather expensive, doesn’t provide the best video quality, and you need a bunch of room to fly and land it. So, you may be wondering why we rated this drone so high. Well, the answer is simple; this is so much fun to fly. Flying a quadcopter is fun and always will be. However, the Disco provides a new feeling of fun. It’s always in motion, even when circling in place, and knowing that puts you in a different flying mode if you will. If you have an interest in remote-controlled flight, then this aircraft is a great option for you. If you’re looking for an aircraft that can go to more places and provide you with higher quality video capture, then a quadcopter such as the DJI Phantom 4 Phantom 4 Pro may be a better option for you.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

AIRCRAFT VIDEO & IMAGE SENSORS BATTERY
Size: 1150 mm x 580 mm x 120 mm 1080p Full HD camera Ultrasound 2700 mAh / 25 A 3-cell LiPo Battery
Wingspan: 1150 mm (45 ") Video streaming: 360p / 720p Altimeter Battery life: 35 min
Weight: 750 gr | 26 oz Airspeed sensor (Pitot tube)
Built-in GPS: GPS + GLONASS Optical flow camera
Software: Linux & Open source SDK for App development

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