Relative to other quadcopters in the market, the 3DR Solo comes with a more eye-catching military-like look. It has self-tightening props, which you can quickly unscrew and carry them with you as you go about your business. The solo’s controller is one of the best you can find allowing attachment of bigger screens like the iPad, which makes taking camera shots and controlling much easier.
If you are working with a GoPro camera on a gimbal, flight time on the Solo should be around 20 minutes after a 90-minute charge. GoPro partnered with 3DR on this project, which means the GoPro camera has full compatibility when working with the Solo drone, in fact the 3DR Solo won our award for the best GoPro drone. You can even remotely control the camera’s settings remotely. The controller’s battery should last four hours of use and functions at a range of up to 0.5 miles under optimal conditions.
The Solo uses a large, heavy 5,200mAh Lithium Polymer battery that latches into the top of the drone. We timed an acceptable 22 minutes of flying time in our tests, which is fairly average for this type of drone, and is comparable to the DJI Phantom 3. The DJI Phantom 4 claims it will get 28 minutes, but we'll have to wait to test that to confirm.
The Solo cannot take photos and video without an added device. Instead, it works with a GoPro camera, which connects to a control cable and an HDMI cable that feeds the video back to the drone and the controlling app. This allows the Solo to control the GoPro 4 and change settings. The older GoPro Hero 3 doesn't get the same level of control, but the drone can still stop and start video recording on the camera.
Minimal is the word that springs to mind when you see the Solo. It’s an angular lump of matte black plastic that would look perfect hovering over the lifeless body of John Connor on the set of a Terminator movie. A large 5,200mAh battery attaches on top of that sleek body, right next to the power button.
The Solo is a simple drone to fly, with automated takeoff and landing. To take off, you let the drone sit for a minute after you turn it on (to acquire a GPS signal), then press the fly button. This starts the motors. Press the fly button again, and the Solo will take off and hover about 4 feet off the ground. The controller sticks are very responsive to subtle movements and small changes.
The controller that comes with the Solo is a similarly styled hunk of black matte plastic, with a glossy plastic top. It is replete with eight buttons and dials, as well as the two control sticks and a small OLED display in the middle. This display doesn't show the live video from the drone. Instead, it shows the status of the drone, indicating things like the battery life, the number of GPS satellites it can see and flight mode.
2019 Updates: None Scheduled
During our 3DR Solo review we found that flying speeds were crazy fast on the 3DR Solo, reaching a maximum of 55 miles per hour. This capability makes it a good choice for filming cars, bikes, and anything that moves fast. Additional features include orbit mode, the self-explanatory follow me mode, and the selfie mode. If you are not into such autonomous functions, you can turn them off and go full-pro mode where you have control over everything. In case of an accident, the Solo has a black box that logs data for proof since the manufacturer offers replacements.