This Month Highlight – November 2012 (Part 2)

12/1/2012 3:25:36 PM

Shoot aerial video from a quad-rotor helicopter — all controlled via your iPad!

Price: $405

Manufacturer: Parrot


Connection 802.11n Wi-Fi Requires iPhone, Pod touch or iPad running lOS 5,

FreeFlight controller app

Description: Shoot aerial video trom a quad-rotor helicopter — all controlled via your iPad!

As the iPhone and iPad become ever more popular, the scale of the accessories available for them increases in ambition. At around $405, we’d suggest that the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is simply too far up the costliness/frivolity scale for most people, but there’s no denying that it’s one of the coolest gadgets to land on the MacFormat desks (after having taken off and flown around the office, of course).

In essence, it’s a remote- controlled helicopter, but it’s worlds apart from the little choppers you get as Christmas gifts. It’s packed with sensors to stabilise its flight, four rotors for maximum control, a little camera to help it avoid hitting the ground, and a 720p HD camera on the front for recording your flight. And it’s all controlled from an iOS device, which also shows a live video feed from the camera. No wonder it’s so expensive.

However, the results are hugely impressive. Its flight is beautifully smooth, and it’s capable of being adjusted in small, nuanced movements. You’ll need to figure out the control system, but you’ll soon be flying in fast, sweeping movements. It’s got a nice big range, too, which uses Wi-Fi for connecting to your iOS device.

Sometimes it can seem to have a mind of its own, though gently wandering off from take-off, or not responding in the way you expect. It also seemed to behave a little oddly when we flew it above wet grass, seemingly struggling to correctly identify its height It’s easy to regain control, but these moments stand out when the AR.Drone Is usually so good. And the feeling of panic when you think you’re losing control is doubled when the vehicle is so pricey.

Fortunately, it’s possible to repair the Drone yourself all the parts are for sale on the website - but it’s fairly hardy in itself. The biggest problem is that it suffers from cripplingly poor flight times, with just 10 minutes on a full charge, and charging is a very slow process.

Still, make no mistake, the AR. Drone 2.0 is a hugely impressive piece of equipment - just a rather expensive one.

Sphero robotic ball

Price: $150

Manufacturer: Orbotix


Description: Sphero is a robot orb about the size of a cricket ball, controlled from a free lOS app.

Sphero is a robot orb about the size of a cricket ball, controlled from a free lOS app.

Now here’s a great way of annoying your cat. Sphero is a robot orb about the size of a cricket ball, controlled from a free lOS app. After charging in the supplied cradle, you connect it to your lOS device through Bluetooth and steer it around the flu. Its multicoloured LED means it can glow in any colour you like.

It’s fun for a while at least, and additional free app-based games and toys such as Draw N’ Drive, Golf and Pet give it added value. But when it comes down to it, Spheros a novelty product, and not a cheap one either.

Rha ma45oi earbuds

Price: $60

Manufacturer: RHA


Description: Treble is well defined and lively too, though the bass could be a little crisper.

Treble is well defined and lively too, though the bass could be a little crisper.

RHA has a reputation for releasing high-quality audio products at very affordable prices, and the MA4SOi earbuds are no exception. Vocals are brilliantly realised, with crystal clarity and very good detail. Treble is well defined and lively too, though the bass could be a little crisper.

They’re also very comfortable, have Inline controls for iOS devices and an anti-tangle cord that does its job well. They come supplied with a carry bag and an excellent range of tips. Overall, these are a very credible set of earbuds at any price, and a bargain at $60.

Lacie rugged key 16gb

Price: $52.5

Manufacturer: Lacie


Description: $52.5 Manufacturer Lacie

This rugged flash drive can be dropped from up to 100m, is water and temperature resistant, and if you have a 2012 Mac, offers USB 3.0 transfer speeds, it comes with optional encryption software to keep your data safe from prying eyes and you can back up to the cloud with Wuala (16GB provided free for a year).

With its grooved rubber casing and integrated split ring, it looks more like a miniature hand grenade than a USB thumb drive, but at least it won’t get damaged if you carry it around with your keys.

Kaimata tablet stand

Price: $60

Manufacturer: Maroo


Description: $60 Manufacturer Maroo -

$60 Manufacturer Maroo -

This solid tablet stand is great for on your desk, its base section is weighty enough to stop it tipping over or sliding. Stiff hinges hold your iPad without slipping, though it wobbles when prodded. It can hold the iPad in portrait or landscape mode, or at an angle for typing.

The rubber-based trays set into the stand hold knick-knacks you don’t want to lose, and the centre tray is a ‘eat fit for your iPhone. Although described as being made from ‘high quality aluminium: the X-shaped unit that holds your iPad is made of plastic.

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