The DJI Spark is fun, but not the mainstream drone we were promised

Great write-up over at TechCrunch:

The Spark is, at once, an impressive feat of engineering and a reminder that drones are a ways from being true mainstream devices. It’s DJI’s smallest and cheapest drone by far, and the company also has tossed in some neat gesture control tricks that make you feel like Luke Skywalker for the 16 minutes it’s in the air. But there are still a lot of kinks to work out.

It’s pretty safe to say we were in awe when the Spark debuted recently. It had been about half a year since the Mavic Pro first started shipping, and here was DJI introducing something even smaller. The demo went off without a hitch and people started tossing around terms like “game changer” to describe the new product.

And it really is an impressive little device. The Spark weighs a full pound less than the Mavic and is roughly half its size. You really can hold it in the palm of your hand.Though unlike the earlier model, the new drone has fixed arms, so it’s roughly the same size as the Mavic is when its arms are folded into its body.

The smaller size comes with some compromises, however. The camera and the gimbal have been downgraded. Among other things, you can’t shoot 4K video with the drone. Though, given the consumer audience the company is targeting, that’s probably not that big of a loss for most.

Some other takeaways from a few days’ worth of testing in New York City:

  • Flying is hard in the big city, for myriad reasons. And it seems to be something of a legal gray era. Or, rather, it’s a bit of a mixed bag as to whether authorities will hassle you for doing so. Either way, it’s best to avoid crowds at all costs.
  • The app has a built-in warning feature that lets you know when you’re in a no-fly zone. And from the looks of things, that applies to basically all of Brooklyn.
  • The drone needs a lot of space, particularly for modes like Quickshot, which creates a 10-second video designed for sharing on social.
  • It’s small, but it’s loud. It’s got that lawnmower-style buzz that Veanne helpfully compares to “killer bees.” If you’re flying it around people trying to enjoy a quiet picnic in the park, prepare to be that asshole.

Read more @ TechCruch.