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.
The gesture control is tough to learn, for one thing. And drones in general have a fair bit of regulation to contend with. Also, even with safety controls in place, some blood may still be shed, as our video producer Veanne learned when she sacrificed her Memorial Day weekend and a small bit of her middle finger to take the Spark for a spin.
That came from a mishap attempting to grab the drone after a flight. There was also a Charlie Brown-style incident that ended with the Spark caught in a tree (though, to our credit, we managed to avoid birdhouses altogether this time out). All of that despite the fact that Veanne is a seasoned videographer with some drone-flying experience.
Even so, the Spark is a good candidate for those who have been eyeing a drone, but don’t have the funds or technical skill to pilot a high-end rig. DJI knows how to build a solid quadcopter, and the Spark mostly fits that bill. But any suggestion that we’re getting to a point where drones are as easy to operate as, say, an iPhone is woefully overstated.