Take selfies from the sky with the DJI Spark: Just $235 (Update: Expired)
That's the lowest price to date on DJI's amazingly capable quadcopter, which can be controlled using just your hands. Plus, a portable wireless power bank for $28.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
During a family vacation last year, I routinely kicked myself for not bring a selfie drone. There were so many incredible photo ops we missed. But I didn't want to deal with a remote or even an app. I just wanted a flying camera that could quickly capture my family with dazzling sights in the background.
I should have bought, and brought, the
. It's fairly compact (though its arms don't fold, which is a bummer), and it can perform all kinds of selfie magic without app or remote. You just launch it from your hand, perform a few strategic gestures and presto! Beautiful selfies from above.
It originally sold for $500, but for a limited time, and while a rather limited supply lasts, TomTop has the DJI Spark for $234.99, shipped free from a US warehouse (as opposed to China). That's the lowest price I've seen. Last time around, it was $250 refurbished. Update: This flash sale has ended, alas.
The Spark is amazingly sophisticated, with features that rival larger, pricier models. In addition to the aforementioned palm-based takeoff and landing and gesture-based flight and photo capture, it offers obstacle avoidance and a built-in HD camera mounted on a two-axis gimbal.
You can do a lot more when you add the app into the mix, and more still with the sold-separately Spark controller. The latter runs $119, which would bring your total to $354 -- still cheaper than buying the Spark new with controller included ($389).
I'll turn you over to CNET's DJI Spark review for a deeper dive. I agree that DJI's app is as confusing to use as ever, and that you may want to spring for an extra battery. They cost around $50 apiece, annoyingly.
I also agree that the Spark offers "all of the camera drone features most people will ever need in an impossibly small package." I think my sole complaint with this model is that its arms don't fold up, making transport a little more challenging and a carrying case a little more essential.
You'll get a charge out of this
When you travel with your Qi-compatible phone, I bet you miss having wireless-charging capabilities by your bedside. Good news: There are portable power banks with built-in Qi charging pads.