Parrot Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo Video Review

Parrot’s low cost drones, the Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo are a heck of a lot of fun — while the battery lasts, at least.
Parrot as a tech company is undeniably best known for its variety of mostly Bluetooth, mostly in-car systems, but in recent years it’s also produced a number of quite cool quadricopter drone products. They’re big boys toys with price points to match.

Parrot’s new drone products, the Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo are a little different, and a little bit more affordable. That’s not quite the same thing as “cheap” — the Rolling Spider costs $139.99 while the Jumping Sumo costs $219.99 — but it’s a bit more affordable.
The Rolling Spider is roughly analogous to Parrot’s existing drone lines, in that it’s a small quadricopter with stabilising wheels that both protect it during indoor flight and allow it to roll around on the floor if flight really isn’t your thing.
Then again, if flight isn’t your thing, the Jumping Sumo, which is effectively a remote control car that happens to use Parrot’s Free Flight app for controls is probably more your speed.

Now that I think about it, I suspect actual Sumo type people would object to the wheels scuffing up the ring.
Now that I think about it, I suspect actual Sumo type people would object to the wheels scuffing up the ring.

Setting up either device is quite simple. You charge them for around 90 minutes to full capacity, switch them on, and then connect to the ad-hoc wireless network each device creates. You then pair them to Parrot’s free iOS or Android app for actual control purposes, at which point it’s time to play.
The Jumping Sumo is notable for a couple of factors. It’s capable of a number of twisting, spinning and jumping stunts at the tap of the button, as long as there’s enough battery left to try. On the minus side it’s stuck with a rather inflexible 90 degree turning scheme. But it’s undeniably fun to watch it try to jump obstacles or for that matter climb stairs, even when it fails spectacularly. It’s fairly solidly built, although not to quite the same standard as most remote control cars.
The Rolling Spider should be the showoff of the pair, because… well, because IT FLIES. Or at least it tries to. My own tests with indoor flight were very unsatisfactory, with it struggling to maintain any kind of level flight. Maybe that’s the review sample I’ve tested and something is just ever so slightly off level, but taking it outside immediately improved matters, as well as giving it a lot more room to manoeuvre around.
So far, so good, but there is a catch — and it’s quite a large one. Either the Rolling Spider or Jumping Sumo will take around 90 minutes to charge, but you don’t get much of a fraction of that in actual flight or drive time.
The Rolling Spider is particularly poor in this regard, with an average of eight minutes flying time from start to finish. That’s just long enough to get your juices up and raring… and then you’ve got another hour and a half before you can have another go. The Jumping Sumo fares a little better, often hitting fifteen minutes of driving before conking out, and a little more if you’re gentle on the stunts. I’m well aware that battery life is the bane of most remote control toys, but it’s quite marked in the case of these two, especially as there’s no spare batteries or external chargers to be had.
If I was buying one, I’d definitely plump for the Jumping Spider, partly because its stunts are just more fun, but also because it’s easily the more solid of the two. The relatively fragile nature of the Rolling Sumo with its very low flight time makes it the lesser of the pair. Either is still a “big boys toy”, albeit a slightly cheaper version of the concept, and they’re fun while they last — but the fun doesn’t last long.

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