Everyone Can Use DJI's $500 Spark Drone

Everyone Can Use DJI's $500 Spark Drone

"Spark is palm-sized and it weighs less than a can of soda", explained Michael Perry during the Spark reveal event at Grand Central Station in NY. Controlling a drone with hand gestures is something which has just come up as a nascent technology.

Using your smartphone, you can receive a live feed from the Spark's camera, and control it out to distances of 100 yards; use the optional remote control, and you can fly the drone up to 1.2 miles away. But the Spark might hit the sweet spot, offering a portable design for half the cost of DJI's high-end Mavic Pro from a company that's widely considered the best in the biz.

Spark will retail in Australia for $859 and will begin shipping from mid-June.

As for the hardware, there's dual-band GPS, GLONASS, a forward-facing 3D sensing system, downward-facing vision system, inertial measurement, and 24 computing cores to process all that. The company says it's about the size and weight of a soft drink can.

Spark is powered by a "high-energy density" LiPo battery and has a maximum flight time of up to 16 minutes. And there are editing tools baked into Spark which allows the drone to shoot up to five minutes of video, then edit into a 30 second film-complete with transitions, titles and music all from the drone's app.

"As for the Spark's camera, you'll find a 1/2.3" 12 megapixel CMOS sensor that is able to capture 1080p video.

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As drones become more and more accessible and user friendly, one of the major drone brands, DJI, has introduced a tiny, affordable drone packed with easy-to-use features, making it ideal for novices.

While it is unfortunately not capable of capturing 4K video, Spark checks just about every other box in terms of features. In the Dronie mode, it flies up and away from the subject. Gone are the Mavic Pro and Phantom days when sheer size makes owning a drone a little bit of a hassle. Circle rotates the drone around the subject, and finally Helix spirals it up in the air and away. An on-board camera keeps the operator centered in its frame. The sport mode enables the camera to fly according to the movement of the user.

The drone has a Global Positioning System, allowing it to know its location - even if you don't. There's a 2-axis mechanical gimbal and DJI's UltraSmooth stabilization technology. Spark will also be compatible with DJI Goggles for an immersive first-person view perspective. A "ShallowFocus" setting can blur out the backgrounds behind your subject, similar to the iPhone 7 Plus' Portrait Mode. It will also let users share videos directly on social media networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Like all recent DJI drones, the Spark can return to its take-off point automatically with a sufficient Global Positioning System signal.

This is DJI's first low-budget mainstream drone.

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