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Review: Parrot Bebop 2 with Skycontroller and Flight Plan – fully kitted out!

Rating: ★★★★★


  • Very easy to fly thanks to well made app and unbeatable Skycontroller
  • Flight Plan makes flying completely autonomous and allows for flights over huge distance
  • Battery life dramatically improved over original Bebop – now around 25 minutes
  • Stunning footage (if lacking a little clarity) and impressive image stabilisation


  • Flying experience less fun without Skycontroller with less range
  • Flight Plan add-on costs £15
  • On-board memory not expandable

Buy now from Amazon – Bebop 2 only

Buy now from Amazon – Bebop 2 + Skycontroller

Parrot FreeFlight 3 app for iOS | Parrot FreeFlight 3 app for Android

I’m by no means new to the drone or quadcopter scene. In fact, I’ve owned several in the last few years and have experimented to various degrees and with varying levels of success. Most of the quadcopters I’ve tested in the past have been relatively basic – simple manually controlled quads with no ‘aritifical intelligence’ or automotive behaviour. The problem with the more basic quadcopters – such as the Syma X8C – is that they’re notoriously difficult to fly, borderline impossible to hover with and don’t take very good footage whatsoever! Their low price justifies them as they’re a very good starting point and basis for learning to fly – but they’re relatively useless if you want to want to take your quadcopter flying any further.

With that – bring in the Parrot Bebop 2! The Bebop 2 focuses on improving some of the drawbacks in the original Bebop. I was lucky enough to get to try the original Bebop last year, but unfortunately was let down by it’s poor build quality and terribly unstable connectivity with the app and Skycontroller. Not only that – but it really felt like a half-arsed effort, with a battery connector that had a cable hanging out and had to be tied in with velcro and a styrofoam type body kit! It was so poor that I even decided it wasn’t worth reviewing here – as I felt that most of the views I had were already online from some very frustrated customers!

Moving on from that though, Parrot went back to the drawing and gave it a facelift ready for MK2! Not only that, but they re-thought many of the key aspects of the device, including power, bodywork and functionality. I’m happy to say that, in my view, the new Bebop 2 is a huge improvement on the original and deserves a warm round of applause to Parrot. I’ve managed to get my hands on the full kit – the Bebop 2 itself, together with the professional Skycontroller and the Freeflight 3 app with Flight Plan functionality. You can guess what the rest of this post will be about – right?

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Skype finally fixes “Skype Home” bug

Skype has recently released Skype version, which – finally – fixes the bug where Skype Home appears every time the program launches.

If you downloaded the KillSkypeHome applet, you’ll now need to remove that from your system after installing the update.

The update is available through Skype’s own update system, or from FileHippo.

Skype’s RAM usage is dreadful!

I’ve been a fan of Skype for many years now – as it seems to be the most reliable and practical way to keep in touch with friends on the phone for free. I was a user of the Skype “subscriptions” for many months and was very impressed with the value for money and quality of the service.

However, it has come to my attention that the newer versions of Skype seem to be using extortionate amounts of RAM – even when the client is in idle mode.

Windows Task Manager (3)

Above is a screenshot of my Task Manager in Windows 7 32-bit on my netbook. As you can see, it’s using well over 80MB of RAM in idle mode. If you go into a call, this will trickle up to over 100MB.

I find this a little excessive – especially since the program is only trying to keep a login alive whilst in idle mode. Do something about it, Skype!

Orange to revamp home broadband packages

Orange has decided that it will revamp it’s broadband packages in just over a week. This is probably an attempt to try and regain some of it’s lost customers following the company’s shameful performance over the last few months.

Customers have become fed up of the poor customer service and vague fair use policy. As a result, Orange has been loosing customers to other ISPs with better deals and clearer agreeements.

The new plans will replace the current plans and hopefully make the deals a little simpler.

However, ISPReview says that the “unlimited” packages will remain. So, unless Orange do something about their bizarre fair use policy, they won’t get anywhere. In addition, new packages won’t resolve any problems with customer service.

We’ll have to wait and see what the new plans bring. I don’t think they’ll be much to be excited about – long contracts, stupid policies, cheap routers and awful speeds. Surprise me, Orange.

(Source: ISPReview)

Guide: 5 tips to save energy in the technology enabled home

Yes, I know – how many times have you been told that turning your computer monitor off standby saves tonnes and tonnes of energy? It is a fact though – the amount of energy the average home wastes yearly because of gadgetry on standby is scary!

So, here are a few tips to keep your electricity bill down just a little…

  • Guess what I’m going to say? Yes, turn off your computer at the wall! Leaving your computer and monitor on standby is a huge waste of power! Shut down (or hibernate) your computer and turn it off at the wall, instead of putting it into standby. Also, if your speakers run from the mains, turn them off too when they aren’t in use. Even if they aren’t producing sound, they still pull power from the plug! In addition, consider turning your printer and scanner off at the wall! It doesn’t need to be on if you aren’t using it.
  • Only charge your gadgets when they need to be. If the battery on your iPod or mobile phone is only half empty, don’t waste energy recharging it for the sake of it. Now, this does go with a little thought – don’t run your batteries totally flat as this sometimes reduces battery life in the long term. But basically, if it doesn’t need charging, don’t bother.
  • Only charge your gadgets until they are fully charged. Once they are charged, unplug them. Many modern devices (such as newer Nokia phones) will tell you when they are ready to be unplugged, so make sure you unplug them. It is a waste of energy if you’ve got your device plugged in when it has a full battery, and it can often damage batteries if you charge them for too long.
  • Turn off your router when it isn’t going to be used. If you’re going to be away for the weekend or you wont be using the computer for a while, turn gadgets such as your broadband router off. They don’t use much electricity but when they are on 24/7 the cost does build up. Routers are designed to be turned off now and then so don’t be afraid to – it should remember all of your settings and just reconnect when you plug it back in. If you have NAS (network attached storage), turn that off as well if you don’t need to use it.
  • Turn appliances off at the socket. It might seem silly, but turning appliances such as your cooker, dishwasher or washing machine off at the socket when not in use might well save you a bit of electricity. With modern appliances it is so easy to leave them on standby, but that does use a small amount of electricity. Obviously don’t turn your fridge off if it has food in it!

There you go – 5 tips to save energy in any modern home. It might only knock a tenner or so of your energy bill, but in today’s economical world any savings count!