Updated: November 29, 2014
Hello, guys. Yes, GoPro HERO4 is out, which means reviewing the older version of this highly versatile high-performance life capture [sic] camera might sound like a wrong idea. On the contrary, it's a great way to sample the technology before you decide committing to a new model, plus the prices are bound to go down.
The reason why I bought a GoPro are many. One, I will be using this camera for my car reviews and on-track sessions. Two, why not. Three, you will be enjoying another kickass article, laced with humor and suchlike. So let us begin then.
Camera spec & features
In just a short span of years, GoPro has become a household names when it comes to capturing wide-angle Xtreme sports, racing and other would-be #YOLO activities. Sure, if you ignore impressionable kids on snowboards and people strapping the camera to their forehead while walking the aisle to their wedding or riding a bike down a mountain and panting a lot, then there's quite a bit of value to GoPro.
In my case, it's the HERO3+ Silver model, designed and built to be slim, robust and of high-quality. This comes at a price, which will vary depending on your country of residence and such. It's the cheapest in the US, at around USD299.99, and climbing to USD450 or more elsewhere.
For that kind of money, you get a chunky piece of camera with a 170-deg lens plus firmware capable of recording video at 1080p 60FPS or taking ultra-wide-angle stills at 10MP 3680x2760px. You can also capture photos at a burst rate of 10 photos/second.
The chunky 1180mAH, 3.7V, 4366mWh lithium-ion battery will last between 90 and 180 minutes, depending on whether you're using Wi-Fi and other accessories, like the dedicated app, remote control and such.
As far as peripherals go, the camera comes with a mini-USB port for connectivity and charging, an HDMI socket, and a single slot for a Class 10 or better micro-SD card up to 64GB in capacity. You can also interface with the camera using Wi-Fi, which is probably the best way of managing the device. It comes with its own little web server and access point, so you can use other gadgets, like tablets or smartphones, to connect to it, and then control it remotely using a GoPro app. Sounds interesting, and we shall definitely be testing this.
The default set of accessories and mount is fairly slim. You go get a bunch of flat and curved adhesive mounts, quick release buckles, a 3-way pivot arm, a USB cable, and a waterproof housing. The last item is rated to depths of up to 40 meters, should you decide to take the camera underwater. You do get a second, open-back for the housing, if you want to use the camera in dry conditions, as this might help with the audio recording.
If you want the suction cup, you will have to purchase it separately. Now, figuring out all the ways the different mounts can interact is somewhat tricky. Furthermore, while you do supposedly get three degrees of freedom, you don't get the ability to rotate the camera in any one plane. So yes, you can set the pitch, yaw and Z tilt, but you cannot rotate the camera off axis from the mount, which is a little annoying, and it requires that you plan the placement in advance, especially if you have a limited number of options slash surfaces to place the mount or the suction cup.
I was a little intimidated by all the different options and features, but once you start using the camera, it becomes trivial. Really. It took me maybe three minutes to figure out everything, including how to obtain and install the app, and then how to use it.
For all practical purposes, once you switch the Wi-Fi on, the GoPro camera becomes a Wireless access point. Connect to it using the default username and password, you will be prompted to change it the second time around, launch the app, which you will have to install separately, and start messing about. Easy peasy.
I tried installing the GoPro app on my Nokia Lumia 520 device first, but it turns out the program requires 1GB of RAM, which my phone does not have. Therefore, I used the Android version on my Samsung Note tablet, and it worked fine. There's a delay in the video feedback of about three to four seconds, and the video quality may look wrong on the preview display, but after you record the video, you will see a smooth playback. This is probably to conserve the bandwidth and allow the software to be more responsive.
Well now comes the interesting part. You've already seen footage from my Renault Clio Cup experience, but that one was recorded with an older version of the camera at 720p. You have also seen the Turbo driving clip, and that one was captured with a much cheaper DVR-027 dash camera. So now, we need some new and exciting stuff.
Here's some cool stuff from Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the famous racing track, with me driving and the camera recording my noble activities. Yes, an article on that is coming your way soon. Both screenshots are actually frames from captured video, but still, the quality is really good. Very neat.
GoPro HERO3+ Silver is a very nice little toy. It feels high quality. It feels built to last and endure abuse. Every little detail is well thought of, and it's quite pleasing to use the device. Plus, it truly offers a very decent audio and video footage, which is what counts.
Of course, it's an absolute commodity, and its only real purpose is to enhance your already elevated sense of self worth and ego, also known as the USI syndrome. But then, if you truly must, then this is probably the most sensible choice to indulge yourself. I am quite happy with what the camera can do, and we shall be having lots of interesting new video clips coming your way. GoPro HERO3+ Silver gets 9.5/10, I really can't find any great issues or faults. Cushty. Oh, and I have omitted any mention or use of cheesy references to songs featuring the word hero, which is possibly even more commendable. Go. Pro.