3DR Solo Review
The 3DR Solo is a sleek and stylish quadcopter drone from 3D Robotics. The company calls it a “future-proof smart drone,” that has the ability to adapt to evolving drone technology. We recently had the opportunity to take one for a test spin and test out some of its features. Here’s our 3DR Solo review.
It’s got a 5200 mAh battery that provides 20 minutes of flight time with a camera mounted, and 25 minutes without. The Solo has a top speed of 55 mph (89 km/h) and a range of 5 miles (800 meters).
Inside, the 3DR has two 1GHx Cortex-A9 computers. There’s one inside the remote controller and one inside the drone, which is running 3DR’s Pixhawk 2 autopilot system. This twin computer control system allows superb flight stability, autonomous flying, and several flight modes designed specifically for aerial video and photography. 3DR has done a really great job simplifying the flight process. One-button take off, landing, and return to home features help you with what are generally the hardest aspects of flying a drone. In addition, there’s a “Pause” button which holds the Solo in a fixed hover position – which is really great if you need a moment to prepare a for a shot. When finished, un-pausing will resume the Solo’s flight.
The “Smart Shot” flight modes offer several different modes including Selfie, Orbit, Follow, and Cablecam.
- Selfie mode: In this mode, the Solo will center you in the shot and fly away from you, expanding the background behind you.
- Orbit mode: In Orbit mode, the Solo will automatically circle around the chosen subject as it films it. The radius of the circle is adjustable mid-flight.
- Follow me mode: In this mode, the Solo will follow a GPS mobile device as it moves. You can choose to follow from behind, from the side, or from in-front with the camera facing backwards.
- Cablecam mode: In Cablecam mode, the Solo is locked onto a virtual cable, which allows you to create perfectly smooth linear tracking shots. You still have the ability to control the pan and tilt of the camera.
The 3DR Solo does not come equipped with a camera, but is built to be compatible with several GoPro models. 3DR actually worked with GoPro to engineer the best integration possible. The Solo can be purchased as just the drone (base), or with the 3DR 3-Axis Gimbal for GoPro, with the price difference being only about $50.
What sets the Solo apart from similar GoPro drones though, is that it allows in-flight access to GoPro’s controls through its own Solo app, while other drones do not. In addition, the Solo will actually supply power and keep the GoPro charged during the flight, so there’s no risk of the camera battery dying.
GoPro compatibility does have a huge advantage: the camera is upgradeable. Drones with built-in cameras are likely to become obsolete as camera technology quickly advances. With the Solo, however, you can keep the drone and simply upgrade your GoPro as new versions are released (it currently supports GoPro Hero 3, 3+, and 4). The Solo’s features like GPS, flight modes, and FPV output will keep the drone relevant for at least several years. Additionally, the Solo has the ability to “evolve,” with swap-able motor pods, and expansion bays to implement new features like parachutes and LED lights.
- Flight time no camera: 25 minutes
- Flight time with camera: 20 minutes
- Weight: 3.3 lb (1.5kg) without camera/gimbal; 4 lb (1.8 kg) with Solo Gimbal and GoPro
- Max speed: 55 mph (89 km/h)
- Max Range: 5 miles (800 meters)
- Max Height: 400 feet (122 meters)
- Camera: Not included. Compatible with GoPro HERO3, 3+, and 4
Should You Buy It?
So you’ve read our 3DR Solo review, but should you buy it? Well, after a significant price drop recently, the 3DR Solo is more affordable than almost any other drone with similar capabilities. The intelligent flight modes are awesome and the drone is incredibly easy to fly, especially with the auto take-off and landing, and the “Pause” function. The drone itself is awesome. What it really comes down to is whether or want to film with the GoPro. If so, then yes, we recommend the 3DR Solo!
Thanks for checking out our 3DR Solo Review. Still looking looking for the right drone? Check out our other reviews.