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Solo V2 Pre-Production First Impression

Today is the end of "claims" but rather a full on as-is review.

So as already announced on Twitter, I got hand on a few things and the first one that will get a more or less in-depth review is the Solokeys Solo V2.

For Transparency I should say though that I got my Solo V2 for free for testing and stuff, which doesnt change the fact that I am backing it on KS.

A Solo V2 in a color I kinda like, obviously.

So for starters take especially the negative parts with a grain of salt as it's all very early and especially in firmware, so even I expected my fair share of issues.

So the Solo I got is a USB-A Unlocked (aka Hacker) Variant. likely because that means beta firmware doesnt have to be signed and stuff, also regarding USB-A, I was asked what I want and aside from my phone (which has NFC anyway) none of my devices have an easily reachable C-port (like most PCs have USB-C only on the back and trust me, you dont wanna have your solo there when you need to tap it.

Firmware

The firmware version as reported by the Solo Tool is 0.0.1 so it really cant be a lot earlier, and it shows. Not sure whether or not the devs don't use windows 10 a lot but I wouldnt be surprised since that is currently the part where I see the most problems on Windows 8 and likely Linux as well, where FIDO isnt done by the OS but rather the browser I generally get a lot better results despite not being entirely perfect when I try to load the solo with Resident Keys in rapid succession.

The main part where I run into issues though is not nessecarily Windows 10 but rather NFC, but more from a firmware perspective. I have 2 readers currently, one from ReinerSCT originally supposed to be used for German Identity cards which has worked GREAT with FIDO-ing so far, except on the Solo V2 which shows signs of not really establishing the connection, and another from Token2, originally supposed to be used for burning their OTP generators. This one though apparently seems to not really keep the connection with my Idem Card and Solo V1 which sux for Smartcard use of the Idem card but seems to be enough for FIDO-ing if you try long enough, while it also holds the connection for most other NFC devices I have like my Yubikey 5, the Blue Yubi with NFC, the Feitian Multipass and to my actual Surprise the Solo V2. I would for now think that the Token2 reader doesnt provide enough power, while the Solo V2 is just VERY early in its firmware, but I cant say for sure.

NFC on PC aside let's move to the Phone where NFC matters a whole lot more.

Android's default NFC implementation for FIDO U2F seems to work pretty well, however the main issue seems to come when I try actual CTAP2 (as in, the thing that makes FIDO2 devices into what they are, with user verification and all that pretty stuff using the FIDO2 Browser App, which is one of the very few ways to actually get CTAP2 on android with FIDO Sticks) I get issues which I yet again for now blame on the 0.0.1 Firmware.

I cant stress this enough. The Firmware is super early and we are about 2 months away from even the early batches to be brought to backers. Also I am in conversation with Conor himself, and I am confident he's working on it all.

I cannot say anything really about the PIV on the Solo V2 as I dont really have tools I can use with it (minidriver/PKCS15 Lib etc) with the programs I wanna try, but also I was told that PIV is really early which I can totally guess since the priority is obviously FIDO.

Hardware

The hardware on the other handseems to have matured a WHOLE METRIC FUCKTON since the V1 in many ways, for starters rather than many exposed chips and a rather big push button, they opted for a solution where the chips are on a seperate board to be placed in a cutout on the board with the USB connector and NFC and sealed in with epoxy, which not only ups the resistance against tampering by quite a bit, but also likely makes it a lot more resistant against water, dirt and other annoying stuff. Also in place of the aforementioned big button it now has not one, not two but THREE capacitive touch areas, which are at least currently mapped to the same thing. turning the LED blue and confirming FIDO stuff.

On the back the Solo V2 has in addition to the debug pins, also a bee as a "logo" as it is also referred to as the "Solo B", which kinda reminds of this small scene from the asdfmovie series.

Fun Little Extras

One other part which is very greatly enhanced by the epoxy is putting on and off the colored silicone cases. on the V1 they got stuck on every chip and were not only annoying to put on but even more to to take off again when you wanna change colors. the V2 on the other hand is pretty flat due to the epoxy and the cavity and all making that part a breeze. Not only that, but the cases also feel a lot thinner and more flexible which makes sense as the cases are now less for protection but more for style (i was told that the V2 can also live without any case, which I wholeheartedly believe myself)

top Left: Solo V1 old color cases, top Center, 2 of 3 Somu cases, red is missing, but it's similar to the V1 Solo in terms of color
in the right bag and bottom Solo V1 new cases, right half: Solo V2 Cases

The color selection of the Solo V2 case selection that I got (I saw a few more online and the colors are not really decided yet as that will be done by the backers) is something I would mostly call pastel galore.I am usually more for nice and saturated colors but in this case I am particularly a fan of the blue one as it seems fairly close to my blog's theme color, which is nice.

Conclusion

I think despite it's current early state the Conclusion of my "zeroth impression" post before stands as it is, it is a pretty cool device and I still love the fact that it can be updated.

Extra info

If anyone cares the pictures were made with a Sony Xperia XA2 and the 9 seperate case color images were made with the settings in the screenshot and a Wiz Smart lamp in cold white mode held above them as the main light source.

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