I've now had a chance to fly the production-model Parrot AR.Drones enough time to have a good feel for how it it flies under a range of conditions, and how it differs from the prototype that I've been flying for six months. Here's a brief review:
The package: The box comes with the AR.Drone, indoor and outdoor bodies, a 1,000 MaH LiPo battery and charger, plugs for various country electrical outlets, and a target.
Indoor flight: This is where the AR.Drones shines. Press one button, and the props spin up, then shift into high speed for a rock-solid take off. It then hovers at about three feet, waiting for further instructions. In n00b mode (right button), you can rotate and go up and down. In pilot mode (left button), you can fly forward and back, left and right. Combine the two, and you basically have a full range of control.
The optical-flow position hold works best on a textured surface, like a patterned carpet or tiled floor. On a totally featureless floor (concrete or smooth, unpatterned carpet) it can tend to drift a bit.
As you fly over furniture, the ultrasonic altitude hold can get confused. Sometimes it goes up as you fly over a sofa, say, and sometimes it goes down. Sometimes it gets so confused the AR.Drones goes to the ceiling. But in general, it does a quite good job.
Total flight time is a bit less than 10 minutes in my experience.
Outdoor flight: This is not the AR.Drone's strongest suit. For starters, it won't fly higher than 15 feet (the range of its ultrasonic sensor). Also, the position hold really only works when there is no wind. Once the wind picks up, the AR.Drone has to tilt and shakes, and the optical flow camera loses its lock. Sometimes that means it just drifts, other times it will scoot off in a random direction after a wind gust.
But if there is no wind, you can fly as far as the wifi connection will let you (I've tested up to about 100 feet)
iPhone interface: The iPhone software is significantly updated from the prototype. As mentioned above, the right button is the equivalent of rudder and elevator, while the left is ailerons (if you'll forgive the plane metaphors). If you release the buttons, the AR.Drone will hold position wherever it is.
My video was laggier than the video shown above; I estimate a .5 to 1 second delay.
One cool thing about the software is that it will update the AR.Drone's onboard firmware if there is an update available (this had to be done with a special USB cable with the prototype).
The current version of the iPhone software is still a bit buggy. About half of the time it falls back to the iPhone's desktop rather than launching the AR.Drone interface.
Gameplay: I haven't tested this. But I do have two AR.Drones, so I'll try to borrow a second iPhone/iPod Touch and give it a try later and update this review.