Earlier this year, DJI announced it would be taking on the entry-level, selfie drone market with its Spark. Along with challengers like the Yuneec Breeze, the smallest DJI quadcopter is priced within touching distance of the bigger Parrot Bebop 2. How do they compare?
The Bebop is significantly heavier than the Spark, but that extra weight is an advantage in some ways. More on that in a minute.
Parrot has slotted a big battery into the Bebop 2 – the original Bebop had an 1100 mAh unit, compared to the 2700 mAh pack in the latest Bebop 2. That translates to a healthy flight time, too.
Parrot has a massive advantage over DJI when it comes to flight time. The bigger battery in the Bebop affords it a healthy 25 minute flight time, compared to 16 minutes for the Spark. The heavier Parrot drone is also likely to stand up better to buffeting in high winds.
Both drones have similar range when connected to their (optional) flight controllers. The Bebop 2 does gain an advantage when users ditch the controller and use a smartphone to pilot their drones, with a range of 300 m (984 ft) compared to the Spark's 100 m (328 ft).
The bigger Bebop 2 has the Spark's measure when it comes to maximum speed, too, with a 6 mph (10 km/h) higher quoted peak.
In keeping with the theme, the Bebop has the Spark pipped for camera resolution. Both cameras use very different lenses: Parrot has run with a 178-degree fisheye on the Bebop, compared to the 82-degree field-of-view you get from the lens on the Spark.
Both drones shoot 1080p video at 30 FPS. Rivals like the Yuneec Breeze offer 4K, as do more expensive drones in the DJI range.
The three-way mechanical gimbal on the Bebop is likely to deliver slightly smoother footage than the two-way system on the Spark. Once again, the Parrot's larger size has afforded it extra capability.
Both drones come with GPS as standard.
Both drones have follow me capability, but you need to pay US$20 to unlock it through the iOS and Android app. It's included out of the box on the Spark.
Both drones have return home capability, and you don't need to pay any extra for it.
Chalk up a point for the Spark, because obstacle avoidance isn't a part of the Bebop's repertoire. Although it's not essential, easily distracted flyers will be relieved to know the DJI drone will automatically stop when it senses an impending collision.
The DJI Spark is barely two months old, while the Bebop 2 has been on the market since the end of 2015.
Both drones are relatively cheap in base form, but adding a controller pushes the prices up. Follow me on the Bebop 2 costs an an extra $20, while the cheaper Spark includes it as standard.
At the end of the day these are two quite different drones, so it's going to come down to what you want to do with it. The bigger Bebop 2 offers better range, longer battery life and a more sophisticated gimbal, but it's significantly more expensive than the Spark when you pay for the controller ... and follow me capability. The Spark, on the other hand, is more portable and the camera on the little DJI is almost as powerful as the one on the Parrot.
We're leaning toward the Spark here, but if a Bebop 3 materializes that might change.
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