It sounds like a deranged hummingbird, it has a comically small range, and its photo quality is abysmal, but there's something weirdly appealing about The World's Smallest Camera Drone ($26.99 from the BoingBoing online store; also available at Amazon).
The temptation to personify the wee unmanned aerial vehicle—with its cheerful red and blue led lights, drunken bumblebee flight patterns, fleeting battery life, and tendency toward rotor jams—is almost irresistible. From the first jerky takeoff, the bright orange mini-drone feels more like a recalcitrant pet than cutting-edge tech, even though it can capture a rather large volume of video footage and still photos on the 2GB of storage on the included micro SD card.
If you're looking to conduct stealth surveillance, take keepsake photographs, deliver tacos, or rain death on your enemies from the sky, this is not the drone for you. But for all its failings, The World's Smallest Camera Drone really is a remarkable piece of engineering: For less than the cost of a couple of pizzas, you can own a remote-operated quadcopter so small it can land in the palm of your hand. And while the current model is little more than a fluky novelty item, it's not hard to imagine how traveling with a personal drone videographer and archivist could easily become a staple of modern life.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "The World's Smallest Camera Drone".