Video gaming enthusiasts are a hard lot to impress these days, although a device called the AR.Drone may appeal to them and to casual gamers who like getting outdoors.
This battery-powered craft is known as a quadricopter for its four propellers. The "AR" in the name stands for "augmented reality", which aims to duplicate what someone sees in the real world but adds extra features built into a device such as a smartphone or tablet computer.
The AR.Drone transmits a live video feed from two cameras - one in the front of the device, with the other underneath facing the ground - with the images delivered via a mobile application. Pilots can then tilt a smartphone or tablet, or press digital controls on the screen to steer the machine.
Special effects in a multiplayer version of the AR.Drone game, in which competitors pit their drones against each other, virtually trying to shoot them down, allow individuals to operate devices in a way that traditional gaming consoles do not.
Only certain models of smartphones will direct this drone, including select models from Nokia and Samsung, as well as some that run on the Android operating software. In our test, an older mobile with Android failed to download the free app we needed, although it worked fine on our iPad and iPhone.
This Dh1,500 (US$408) device relies on a free app, although some software costs $2.99 to $4.99 and include extra features - such as the ability to snap photos at regular intervals or overlay digital data, including altitude and flight time.
A major concern while using this device, though, is whether it invades the privacy of others - especially if it flies close to others' homes.
5 popular toy drones and helicopters
1 Parrot AR.Drone – Dh1,500 (US$408)
2 Helo Tc Helicopter – $50
3 Rover App-Controlled Spy Tank – $100
4 i-helicopter – $130
5 Air Hogs Pocket Copter – $35