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

Our Spark is returning to DJI a bit worse for wear. As a rule, we try to send products back to companies in the same state they arrived, but that’s a hazard of real-world testing a product with four spinning blades: sometimes things end up covered in dirt and grass and the sacrificial blood of one poor TC staff member.

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…

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