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Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo review: Grab photos, video at ground level with spinning, rolling Jumping Sumo

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MSRP: $159.95

The Good The Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo is a fun, two-wheeled rover with a camera that streams a first-person view for piloting through your environment with a smartphone or tablet. The camera can also capture low-res photos and video.

The Bad Video capture is limited to VGA resolution and requires a Micro-USB thumb drive for storage. Battery life is "up to" 20 minutes, and the battery is charged in the Sumo and takes about 90 minutes to top off. Wi-Fi connection can be temperamental.

The Bottom Line The Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo gives you a ground-level look at your environment as it spins and jumps at your command.

Visit for details.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Battery 7
  • Features 7
  • Ease of Use 8

The word "drone" at this point probably conjures up images of unmanned aerial vehicles conducting military airstrikes or multirotor aircraft for aerial photography or delivering packages.

Parrot's MiniDrone Jumping Sumo, which sells for $160 (AU$220, £140), is strictly for the ground and although you might not consider it a drone (or an unmanned ground vehicle), it is more than a simple radio-controlled vehicle you pilot with your smartphone or tablet.

Similar to WowWee's MiP robot, you can use your iOS or Android (and eventually Windows 8.1) mobile device to steer the two-wheeled Jumping Sumo through its environment. It can also be programmed to follow a Road Plan or complete pre-programmed tricks.

The Jumping Sumo can be programmed to follow a sequence of moves. Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

And then there's the jumping. Though you can have the Sumo balance on its wheels like a Segway when driving it around, it will spend most of its time resting on its rear leg. With a tap on your screen that leg will retract, compressing its two springs and then releasing them, launching itself either forward or straight up 80cm (2.6 feet). You can also have the Sumo flip itself over and use the leg to kick a ball or irritate friends and family by kicking their feet.

Piloting the Jumping Sumo

Like Parrot's larger AR.Drone quadcopters and MiniDrone Rolling Spider , the Jumping Sumo is completely controlled with an app on your smartphone or tablet. The FreeFlight 3.0 app is available for iOS, Android, and, in October, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices; I did all my testing with a Galaxy S4 and an iPhone 5S .

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Jumping Sumo connects to your mobile device via Wi-Fi. Turn on the Sumo and it will appear as a network in your Wi-Fi settings. Select it and launch the FreeFlight app. Once the app is open, it should automatically connect to the Sumo.

However, in my testing the connection wouldn't always happen immediately and occasionally would never happen at all, forcing me to shut down both the Sumo and the app and start the process over again. To be fair, it happened mainly when I was using it in areas with a ton of wireless networks. In the app you can change to Manual mode and choose a less-crowded channel, as well as connect over 5GHz or 2.4GHz.

Once you are connected, you'll see a first-person view streamed from the Sumo's camera. Slide the virtual stick on the left forward and back to move those directions and tilt your device left or right to turn. On the right is another pad to do quick 90- and 180-degree turns by swiping up, down, left, or right.

For navigating in tight areas, the wheels can be pushed in. If stability and speed is your priority, pull the wheels out for a wider base. You can drive the Sumo indoors or outside, but the tires are made from a spongy foam, so too much riding on rough terrain will shred them. A new set will set you back $15.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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