DJI is the biggest name in the drone world. Ever since it made consumer drones cool with the first Phantom, it’s forged a reputation as the only company that can make high-performance drones that are easy enough for anyone to fly.
Its latest drone is the most idiot-proof yet. Called the Spark, it folds down to the size and weight of a soda can, but can still outrun Usain Bolt and fly autonomously. For anyone who’s ever wanted a cheap and easy tool for getting quick aerial shots while travelling, this looks like the dream.
The Spark takes all the best features of DJI’s bigger drones, and shrinks them down. It can fly at 31mph — not quite as fast as the bigger Phantom 4, but still much faster than any other pocket-sized drone. It also retains features like ActiveTrack and TapFly, which use the drone’s camera to automatically track and follow objects for smooth camera shots. TapFly is meant to be a point-and-shoot alternative to conventional controls, which instead allows you to just tap on the horizon in the direction you want the drone to go.
You communicate with the drone directly using your smartphone, which limits the range to 110 yards. If you want to fly more seriously, you can get a controller as part of a $700 package, which extends the range up to about a mile. It also has a similar sensor suite as the more expensive drones, which will prevent you from crashing your drone head-first into a wall. (It’s not crash-proof, however.)
The camera specs are the one big limiting factor on this drone. It shoots 1080p video and 12-megapixel stills, which isn’t bad — but it’s not close to the 4K video that most fancier drones can shoot.
Pre-orders are open now, with shipping scheduled for June 15th.