If you like the idea of a remote-controlled flying drone, but don't want to spend hundreds of dollars for one, then the MiniDrone by Parrot might be the device for you.
The MiniDrone consists of a small body with four propellers, one on each corner, and two large thin wheels on either side. The wheels allow the MiniDrone to roll around on the floor, and, more importantly, also act as a buffer to protect the body from collision shocks.
The device is controlled via Bluetooth from a smartphone or tablet app. Tilting your handheld causes the MiniDrone to move and change direction. To launch it into the air, tap a button on the app and the MiniDrone can reach heights of up to 30 feet and hover in mid-air.
Pricing for the MiniDrone has yet to be announced, but Parrot's AR.Drone, a two-foot Bluetooth-controlled drone with an onboard camera, costs $299.
We test-flew the MiniDrone at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, and promptly drove it right into an unsuspecting bystander. However, it doesn't take long to get a hang of the simple interface and responsive motion.
Though we weren't able to put the MiniDrone to a very robust test at the show, Parrot says the device has about 6 to 7 minutes of battery life and can receive a Bluetooth signal from up to 160 feet away.
With its shock-absorbing wheels and easy-to-use controls, the MiniDrone is sure to be one of the hottest tech toys of 2014 for kids and parents.