OK, so I don't really need another quad, but they had them in stock at Best Buy and having a long history with 3DR products, I couldn't resist.
- Quality: First, and perhaps most importantly from a business standpoint: the build quality is phenomenal. Thinking back to the IRIS launch, this is just leaps and bounds beyond where we were then. I'm happy for 3DR and I think the SOLO will be a nice challenger to that prolific white drone.
- Unboxing and setup: not bad at all. The instructions are clear, and the setup is pretty easy. I did have some issues on the first firmware update, but I cancelled and tried it again and everything went well. The semi-permanent case/packaging is a nice touch.
- GoPro integration: hit or miss. I can get the live stream to work roughly 25% of the time. Other times, I get only artifacts or a blank screen. Interestingly, switching modes to Still or even using the OSD usually causes the feed to come back on, but it usually goes away again after switching back to video. Sometimes rebooting the GoPro fixes it, sometimes rebooting the SOLO fixes it, sometimes it takes a couple tries of both to fix it. It seems to me like there's a resolution mismatch in what the SOLO is expecting from the HDMI port and what the camera is sending when in video mode. I couldn't get it to work at all on Android.
- Solo App: Pretty nice, with one exception: errors tend to repeat themselves (audibly) every second or so: annoying. I noticed this with some of my other drones on Tower, so maybe it's a problem with 3DR services. Not a big deal, I just put the phone on mute.
- Flight characteristics: well, I really don't know. Despite waiting over 30 minutes for the GPS solution, it never worked. I started at 0 satellites and ended up at 5 after about 15 minutes, then nothing. Tried rebooting after 25 minutes or so, still at 5 satellites, but won't arm. Rebooted again, nothing. Not content to go home without seeing it in the air, I did end up just saying screw it and flying in stabilize, which was fine with one exception: the spring-loaded throttle is super annoying to fly with in any kind of manual mode. Depending on winds, attitude, payload, etc. your "sweet spot" for maintaining altitude is going to be somewhere other than the center detent, so you're probably going to be applying continuous pressure (usually downwards, which is even more counter-intuitive). I assume alt-hold will be better, but i haven't figured out what mode that is yet (FLY:Manual maybe?).
- Battery life: Again, can't comment, didn't have it in the air long enough to find out. Seems reasonable though.
Summary: lots of potential. I am well aware I'm an early adopter, but for the average consumer this is going to be a frustrating launch if these little kinks don't get worked out pretty quickly.