Another one of our favorites sites last month at CES was DJI’s Spark drone, which is a great fit for those looking to enter the market without spending closer to a thousand dollars more for a drone, while still getting their hands on the quality behind the name. It is also a great companion for those adventure types out there, as it is small, and doesn’t even need a controller at times.
For one, the drone will cost you upwards to $399 (not including packages/kits). Right now it is only $372 on Amazon. This makes for a great entry point for getting your hands on a good drone to learn with, if you also want all of the fun features you typically find with a DJI drone. It is lightweight and small in form, making it easy to carry around. It also features durable blade guards that can take a better impact than some of the Phantom models.
What makes it really nice for the adventure types is that you don’t necessarily need the remote. It can take off from your hand (by recognizing your face!), and then be controlled by various gestures. It can be shifted side to side by motioning slowly with your hand, and can even be told to take a selfie. All you have to do is wave to it, and it will move backward and upward by a diagonal of around 15 feet from your location. It will hover there until you motion by making photo frame (opposite corners) with both hands. It will then give a warning light and then take the picture (so you have time to put your hands down and get into your favorite pose of course). When you are finished, you make a Y with your arms (as in you would with YMCA), and it will return to its previous location. Wave your hand underneath and it will land itself on the ground (or your hand if you’d like).
It can be told with your phone to fly off to a given location on the screen for a better angle. It uses what DJI refers to as ActiveTrack to track a target with so you don’t have to fly it manually necessarily. It also makes use object recognition so it can do so without crashing into something (although I wouldn’t challenge it too hard at this).
Take make things better, it features a decent camera with 1080p at 30fps video and 12 MP images. It can handle winds of up to 31 mph and can fly nearly just as fast. You only get up to around 15 minutes like the older Phantom models (and most other competing units that released around their time), but you can swap them out with extra batteries like most, allowing you to stay on the road longer without having to recharge. It can sense nearby objects and tell the difference between them and you (or whatever the target being tracked is), as well as it’s location to the ground. For around $400 or less, you do get a decent list of features.
Everything can be controlled using your smartphone/device, or you can choose to buy an optional DJI hard remote for around $125. Personally however, I’d stick to the phone and just get Gamevice to control it with for accuracy and zero-latency, so that you can cut back on the bulk.
The DJI Spark has been on the market since May of last year and I am surprised we haven’t spoken much about it. We don’t have one in the inventory (although we do have a number of other DJI models), so I couldn’t take one on an actual adventure for some sample footage for you (maybe in the future), but you can find plenty of it online on YouTube from other sources.