It seems that DJI launches a new drone for the masses every other full moon. Okay, I kid a little, but DJI has been on a tear, releasing new drones to the masses. The latest iteration is the DJI Spark mini drone, scheduled to ship in June. It's a cliche to say that this drone "is not your average drone," but there's some validity to this statement.
Earlier in Q2 2017, there were rumors of a much smaller drone from DJI. It reminded us mostly of the Yuneec Breeze drone, which was built more for quick flights and selfies. The rumors were pretty spot on, as the Spark mini drone's body is about length and width of Samsung Galaxy S8—meaning it fits in the palm of your hand. Even though it doesn't have retractable propeller arms, the Spark is still small enough to fit inside an inner jacket pocket. Pretty impressive.
The Spark sports a 12MP camera for still images and can shoot 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. The camera is mounted on a 2-axis stabilizer for smooth, cinematic video capture. 4K video is not available on this camera.
Who is this drone for?
The DJI line of drones has a clear delineation of targeted markets. The Inspire 1 and 2 are for the professional film makers. The Phantom and Mavic line are for prosumers. The Spark, priced at $499, is for EVERYONE.
This drone is small enough not to intimidate the average person when first seen. The DJI firmware and mobile application offer a great user experience (UX), allowing first-time pilots to be comfortable during flight, as it uses both gesture controls and remote controls. There's no time spent installing propellers or calibrating a compass with the Spark. Just power it up and allow it to launch safely from the palm of your hand.
Businesses of all sizes can now take advantage of drones in their marketing and promotion with the Spark, thanks to the UX and design. Today, drone footage is primarily used in the real-estate markets to share aerial views of properties. Views from inside a property can be done, but it's definitely a challenging task to maneuver drones such as the Phantom 4 Pro indoors, due to the drone size and control sensitivity.
With the Spark, business owners can continue to get aerial views for marketing and fly the drone indoors with ease, simply by using hand gestures. And once the footage is captured, there's no need to open robust video editing applications such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro. Instead, the DJI Go mobile app lets you edit videos and photos. Similar tools are available in the editing app, such as filters, transitions, and cutting.
The beauty of the DJI Spark experience is that you can start the drone, capture footage, and publish the footage in just minutes. This is going to be big for business marketing strategy. Marketing teams are all about getting great content out to the masses. It's a bonus when great content can be produced and published in under 15 minutes. Add the fact that the Spark can be carried in a bag as if it were a set of headphones and you have the benefit of ultimate portability.
Families can invest in a Spark as they would a new family camera. The Spark can fit inside you beach bag with the towels or in your teen's backpack with ease. It will be great for those impromptu shots of the family barbecue or getting that aerial group photo of the high school graduation party. All done with the push of a button and a few hand gestures.
- The 1/2.3-inch camera sensor is not going to perform well in low-light scenarios. However, flying drones at night isn't advised for the safety of your drone and the people around it.
- Video resolution is limited to 1080p, which is below today's popular 4K resolution but still pleasing to the eye. Hopefully, this limitation won't come into play with your use.
- And because the Spark is no larger than a 16-ounce can of cola, you deal with weight being a factor on windy days. But you shouldn't fly drones in windy environments anyway.
The DJI Spark is a great addition to the existing drone market. It can be considered "the drone for everyone" thanks to its size, portability, and ease of use. It wouldn't surprise me to see the existing drone market boom with the launch of this device. The $499 price tag is definitely fair considering the comprehensive tech involved, as well as the user experience that offers any business or entrepreneur another tool to better market its products or services.
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What are your thoughts on the Spark? Have you placed your pre-order? How do you think you might put this mini drone to work for your business? Share your opinions with fellow TechRepublic members.
Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.