Parrot's AR Drone Quadricopter\u00a0might be the most well known thanks to its association with the iPhone, but it's hardly, and by far the best. \u00a0Course, one wouldn't know this until they lay their hands on a legit four bladed helicopter. \u00a0Case in point DJI's Phantom 2 Vision.\r\n\r\nTo be honest, my quadricopter experience is far from vast. \u00a0Knowledge aside, though, I can, without a shred of doubt, attest to how much fun and enjoyment one can garner from flying the Phantom 2 Vision.\r\nWhat's in the Box\r\n\r\n\r\nThere are a set of replacement blades - you'll need and want these on hand when the craft takes a plunge onto pavement. \u00a0And if you're not careful, can become razor sharp if they scrape the ground - Gabe found this out the hard way with a sliver removed from his forearm. \u00a0There are also a set of tools, some stickers, a battery, charger, WiFi range extender, remote and a mount for your smartphone (iOS or Android compatible - more on that in a bit).\r\nGeneral Setup\r\nPhysically setting up the DJI Phantom 2 Vision takes no tools. \u00a0Just add the propellers - you can do this by hand by screwing them on. \u00a0If you need to replace one of the blades (i.e. unscrew it) you can sometimes accomplish this by hand, but you might need the included tool which is designed to hold the rotor steady as you unscrew it. \u00a0Included are a set of stickers that are intended to indicate the direction the Phantom Vision 2 is facing. \u00a0Skip these, since they're near impossible to see when in flight.\r\nRemote\r\n\r\n\r\nIt looks and feels like a traditional RC remote. \u00a0The left joystick\u00a0controlling\u00a0altitude (up and down) and rotating the Phantom 2 on a y-axis. \u00a0The right joystick\u00a0controlling\u00a0the direction of travel (x-axis); forward\/back and left\/right strafing. \u00a0Two indescript switches are used to control\u00a0absolute\u00a0positioning and\u00a0can\u00a0be used to reset the Phantom's compass. \u00a0They'll largely go unused and for the easiest flight experience both should be set to their middle position.\r\nWiFi Range Extender\r\nThis is used to connect your smartphone to the Phantom 2's camera, hence the "Vision" part of the name. \u00a0It works in tandem with the aforementioned smartphone mount. \u00a0It charges via microUSB. I've never had the battery die, though I charge it after each use.\r\nCamera\r\n\r\n\r\nBuilt-into the Phantom 2 Vision is a 1080p capable camera. \u00a0It records at 30fps. \u00a0Switch it to 60fps and it becomes 1080i. \u00a0To help reduce shake it attaches to the base of the Phantom 2 by way of 4 rubber bearings. \u00a0The camera also automatically adjusts its angle to compensate for the tilt of the Phantom 2, which occurs when flying forward or back. \u00a0To be clear, it's not a full on gimbal, which is to say it won't completely reduce shake, but nevertheless, it has an affect. \u00a0Of note, there is version of the Phantom 2 that is sans camera that can be optionally outfitted with a gimbal for those using a GoPro3.\r\nSmartphone Connectivity\r\nFirst install the app (iOS or Android) on your smartphone. \u00a0Turn on the remote control, the Phantom 2 and then WIFi Extender. \u00a0Fire up the app, and connect your smartphone to the Range Extender's WiFi signal - look for the "Phantom" SSID. \u00a0Once completed return to the app. \u00a0This is where it gets a bit confusing and frustrating.\r\n\r\nIn order to connect to the Phantom's camera, you'll need to "bind". \u00a0To do this, you'll have to have the retail packaging handy, which bears a QR Code on its right side. \u00a0Select the Binding option in the app, scan the QR code on the box, and then the SSID and Mac Address will automatically populate. \u00a0If all goes well the camera should connect to your smartphone and show its view in realtime. \u00a0However, what makes ZERO sense, is that you need the retail\u00a0packaging\u00a0on hand to connect the camera to your smartphone. \u00a0I learned this the hard way: I left the box at home, went to Joshua Tree and came home\u00a0without any footage. \u00a0Why the QR code isn't plastered directly on the outside of the Phantom is beyond frustrating and stupid!\r\nFlight\r\n\r\n\r\nTo take off just pull down and inward on the joysticks. \u00a0This starts the propellers. \u00a0Once they're up to speed, and the back lights blink green you can take off and the Phantom 2 Vision should hover freely in the sky. \u00a0If the lights blink yellow, then the Phantom 2 hasn't quite figured out how to sit still and will waver left and right. \u00a0Careful, it's easy to crash it at this point.\r\n\r\nI took me about 10 minutes to get a hang of the controls. \u00a0Since we only have two batteries - 15-20 minutes a piece of flight time - it wasn't until the third outing when I got the hang of the Phantom 2. \u00a0Instead of just pushing left and right, up or down on the joysticks, I was eventually, over time and with practice, able to modulate them with much greater proficiency and all the way control the direction of travel that wasn't just simply a straight line. \u00a0The result was better, steadier shots.\r\n\r\nThat said, the Phantom 2 is remarkably nimble and fast enough (see the videos) to beat a group of 10 year olds in a foot race. \u00a0Changing direction happens almost instantly, and unlike Parrots offering is far easier to control since you can modulate speed and direction with much greater ease thanks to the joystick remote. \u00a0Like any quadricopter, the windier it is, the harder it is to fly, but given it's design and small nature it holds up fairly well against the elements.\r\nRecorded Footage\r\nGoPro long ago set the bar when it came to cameras of this size. \u00a0And if you're like me skepticism is probably abound in terms of the Phantom 2's camera quality. \u00a0But take a look at the footage. \u00a0I think it speaks for itself. \u00a0Thanks to the wide angle lens footage it's fairly distorted, though DJI says this can be fixed in post using an Adobe plugin - I never did this since I didn't and don't edit video. \u00a0There is a fair bit of shake in some of the recorded footage, but by incorporating slow turns and a slow flight speed, much of this can be reduced if not removed. \u00a0The smartphone app allows you to also control the tilt of the camera, capture photos (RAW or JPG) and manipulate other camera settings to capture shots that wouldn't otherwise be feasible with a jib, crane or whatever other gear you might have in your photography arsenal.\r\nDurability and Battery\r\nWe (as in I) crashed it a few times in our trial. \u00a0One time was particularly bad with the camera casing popping off. \u00a0However, it still works and still records full HD video. \u00a0Moreover it flies as if it were brand new, at least from what we can tell. \u00a0That said, it's far from indestructible and the propellers will break and become sharp if they meet concrete while spinning.\r\n\r\nYou'll experience a slight reduction in battery life when recording video, but on average you'll get 15, maybe 20 minutes of flight time per battery. \u00a0 If you've got a smartphone connected you'll receive an audible warning before the battery is going to die, and if you really push it the craft will try to land itself - this usually happens when the battery indicator on the smartphone app shows less than 20%.\r\nConclusion\r\n\r\n\r\nI'm no pilot. \u00a0I'll likely never fly a fighter jet. \u00a0The DJI Phantom 2 is probably the closest I'll get to doing so. \u00a0Sure, it's a gross exaggeration. \u00a0But as I said, you can experience a fair bit of exhilaration, especially once you start to get the hang of it. \u00a0So suffice to say, it's fun. \u00a0But the real return on your money will come from the camera, where you'll be able to record stunning shots, hi in the air. \u00a0 The camera isn't nearly as durable as a GoPro3 encased in the company's rugged container. \u00a0But with that comes the trade off of being able to view the camera's view in real time and control it when out of sight - according to DJI the GoPro's WiFi remote option interferes with the Phantom 2's operation.