Have I shared with you my enthusiasm for remote-controlled helis and their quad-rotor brethren?
No? Well I love ’em.
I’m 42-years-old and there’s just something about these little indoor choppers that fulfils a boyhood dream which I’ve apparently been harbouring for a long time.
Whatever the reason, I think these things are awesome so I was delighted to learn that the coolest remote-controlled toy on the planet, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 will be up for pre-order at The Source starting March 9th. General release for the device is May of this year.
What’s this? You’ve never heard of the AR.Drone? Allow me to introduce you: The Parrot AR.Drone is remote-controlled quadrocopter (4 rotors instead of the usual 1) that can be controlled via your iOS or Android device of choice over Wi-Fi and comes equipped with 2 on-board cameras – one that looks forward, the other looks straight down.
The latest version (2.0) of the AR.Drone lets you watch the feed from the forward-facing cam on your controlling device in real-time to give you a “pilot’s eye-view” of the action, but you can also record this video feed for acquiring the bragging rights to an especially impressive flight. These videos can be recorded to your smartphone/tablet’s memory or saved via the built-in USB port on the AR.Drone.
We got a chance to see the AR.Drone 2.0 in action at CES 2012 this year and their demo was impressive.
Of course, the original intent behind the cameras was to enable AR gaming (thus the AR or Augmented Reality in the AR.Drone’s name) is still very much the focus of this craft, and with the optional game downloads you can engage in air-to-air combat with other AR.Drone pilots.
Just like the original AR.Drone, version 2.0 comes with a removable set of indoor “hulls” – basically styrofoam bumpers that surround the blades of each of the four rotors. You can keep these on when flying outdoors for greater crash protection, but the vehicle will be much less stable in windy conditions.
Until now, the only Canadian retailer who carried the AR.Drone was BestBuy, but it seems Parrot has established a slightly larger distribution network for the 2.0 release of the product by partnering with The Source. This move makes tons of sense. Not only are there way more The Source locations in Canada (over 700) but The Source is already the go-to shop for RC enthusiasts. I doubt there is another bricks and mortar retailer with a greater selection of RC toys and the AR.Drone is the perfect complement to that collection. The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 will be $329 when it goes on sale later this year.
If you haven’t already checked out a friend or family member’s Kindle, and have harboured an intense curiosity about how the e-reader from Amazon feels in your hand, or how its screen handles the display of text, today’s your lucky day.
That’s because The Source is the first retailer in Canada to stock the Kindle and odds are, you live within a few minutes of a Source location (they have over 700 locations across the country). You’ll find the Kindle at most locations except those in Quebec.
While you’re there, be sure to get a sales associate to pull out one the other e-readers the Source carries – say the Sony PRS650, or the Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro, so you can compare them to the Kindle. The Sony and the Aluratek are great products, but I have a feeling that once you get your hands on a Kindle, you won’t want to put it down.
The Kindle’s pearl e-ink screen is easy on the eyes, and actually gets easier to read the brighter your environment which makes it the perfect outdoor companion this summer. Tablets are great and they can do so much – same with smart phones – but they have yet to create a tablet screen that handles sunlight as well as e-Ink.
I’m also a big fan of Amazon’s online bookstore and they way they’ve integrated it right into the Kindle. As soon as you’ve finished reading one book, you can immediately receive recommendations and have your next title sent to your device within minutes. It’s incredibly easy.
If there’s any downside to the Kindle, it’s the current lack of compatibility with lending libraries, at least in Canada. In the U.S., Amazon has a solution they are rolling out to enable library lending and with any luck, it won’t be long before that solution comes up here.
Pricing is $159 for the Wi-Fi only model and $209.99 for the Wi-Fi+3G model – which includes free 3G access for downloading books, magazines etc, in hundreds of countries. Interestingly, unlike the vast majority of the The Source’s product selection, the Kindle is only for sale in-store, not online.
If you’re still hunting around for that perfect Father’s Day gift, I highly recommend the Kindle. If, however, you can wait a little longer, the rumour mill is heavily favouring a price drop on the Kindle before the holidays.