Parrot Mambo Mini-Drone Review
- Fun and easy to fly
- Reasonably quick charge time
- Effortless to set up
- Fun accessories
- Short flight time
- Mini pellets are really easy to lose
- Can only lift 4g with grabber
- Doesn’t do well in even light wind
- Indoor and outdoor mini-drone
- Grabber and cannon accessories
- Bluetooth controller from a smartphone (controller optional)
- 30 minute charge time for 9 minutes flight
- 5m/sec maximum rate
What’s the Parrot Mambo?
Most economical miniature drones — believe the no-name versions you find on Amazon — typically function as a simple gateway to a full size drone flying. They are fun to fly around for a little while but do not do much else. The Parrot Mambo is somewhat more than your typical mini-drone, coming equipped with an interchangeable grabber or mini-cannon accessories to open up your trip to more fun and hijinks.
While more expensive than lots of the more basic mini-drones on the market, the Mambo’s accessories mean the fun will last that much longer — particularly for those who have a whole lot of ’em.
Parrot Mambo — Design and setup
Unsurprisingly, the Mambo is small and lightweight, which makes it perfectly acceptable for flight indoors. Despite this expectation, at 63g (with no propeller guards, or ‘hulls’ as Parrot call them) it will still catch you off guard with how dinky it seems.
It is a fairly standard quadcopter layout and less of a death in comparison to Parrot’s other Swing mini-drone. The one noteworthy element is the Lego brick-like link on the top of the drone’s body. This is where the accessories port with the drone.
From the box, the Mambo is nearly ready for instant flight. The prop guards are already attached, as are the propellers. All you will need to do is slide the battery to the Mambo’s key body and give it a charge through the Micro USB port on the back.
Next step is to set up the Parrot FreeFlight Mini iOS or Android program on your smartphone. All of the Bluetooth pairing is done via the app, making it really easy. Simply select your Mambo drone in the listing of available drones nearby and you are almost set.
By far the slowest part is updating the firmware, which took approximately 30 minutes to transfer over Bluetooth. The program warns you of the time required in equity and advises doing the update over USB will be faster. Nonetheless, it gives you a little bit of time to paw through the directions and familiarize yourself with all the cannon and grabber accessories tucked away from the box.
Parrot Mambo — Flight and accessories
With this being an entry-level mini-drone, do not expect the majority of the bells and whistles of more expensive drones such as Parrot’s Bebop range. Even with this said, there are 3-axis gyroscope and accelerometers inside using a downward-facing ultrasound detector all working to create for generally stable flight.
The Mambo does infinitely better at hovering in position compared to the Star Wars Battle Drones, which always felt like you’re wrestling contrary to its normal drift in whatever way it fancied. That is until the Mambo experiences anything beyond the smallest of gusts.
Using a window open and a small breeze coming in, it did start to noticeably fight to correct its altitude and position because of its lightweight. Nothing too extreme but you will want to keep a thumb on the electronic sticks lest it blows away.
Otherwise, the Parrot Mambo proves to be lots nimble and a great deal of fun to fly. It tops out at 5 meters per second flight rate, which is fast enough considering the 20m Bluetooth variety when paired with a smartphone. Use the optional Flypad control and this goes up to 60m, but sadly, I did not have one to test.
Still, the Digital sticks were responsive from the FreeFlight Mini. There is no ‘headless’ mode, in which the orientation of the drone does not matter, which is much more prevalent on starter drones, but I have never been a fan and think it wiser to learn more conventional drone controllers.
You’ve got access to pre-canned aerial tricks like barrel rolls and flips with a simple press of a button. There are a lot more tricks on offer than were current with the Star Wars Battle Drones and they are good fun. There is even a fun take-off mode where you throw up the drone in the hands of your hands to begin the propellers.
Truly, though, the most fun is to be had with the grabber and cannon. The grabber attaches to the base of the drone and connects to the top attachment port using a cable that wraps around the drone’s body. The canon simply attaches on top.
The grabber can only support the weight of about 4g, so don’t expect Amazon Drone-style deliveries. Nevertheless, you can make your own games like attempting to drop a little ball of paper into a cup in rate (this is surprisingly difficult). Heck, if you’ve got more than one Mambo you could probably create some type of team sport. But even just picking up stationary objects can prove to be difficult.
The cannon has a clip which can hold 6 rounds. You get 50 of the green rounds, which seems plenty. But then once you realize how little each ball is, you will realize why you are given so many. These things are really, really easy to lose. There are a few now under my refrigerator and behind my sofa, I will need to dig out unless the vacuum cleaner gets to them first.
The cannons are not taken with the maximum velocity so that they won’t do much harm. You can still establish a carnival-style can shoot when you’ve got lightweight targets or have an aerial dogfight with multiple Mambo drones — or just fly around and annoy your friends.
Parrot Mambo — Camera
The 0.3-megapixel camera really isn’t great. Think an old VGA webcam degree of quality and you will hit the mark. It is noisy and fuzzy and the colors are underwhelming. Nonetheless, it may still be relatively fun to receive a top-down perspective of your living space.
Parrot Mambo — Battery life and charging
Best case scenario — no hull, no accessories — and you can expect around 9 minutes of continuous flight. Not amazing, but enough to get a fast round of fun. Happily, charging only takes 30 minutes when attached to a 2A USB adapter, which could’ve been worse.
Should I buy the Parrot Mambo?
If you’re looking for a beginner drone that does a bit more than just fly, the Parrot Mambo is bags of fun. Really, it is down to your imagination what you need to do with the cannon and grabber accessories. The very basic camera feels like a nice added bonus, even if its quality is not amazing.
Top that off with handling the fundamentals, like nimble and enjoyable flight, and the Parrot Mambo is a fun first drone.
A fun and nimble first drone with accessories which make it stand apart from other mini-drones.