The GoPro Hero Review

by PjGermain

The Pros and Cons of the GoPro Hero. Which model is worth the purchase.

No too long ago, we suddenly noticed a huge influx of action video clips on T.V. and YouTube. How were all these people creating this amazing action video clips. Shortly thereafter, the GoPro became a household word. This phenomenal action camera comes in a few flavors and different price points. We'll discuss what you get with each and give our personal opinion on what to purchase.

Dynamic Action Video

GoPro Hero Silver
GoPro Hero Silver

The GoPro series of cameras came out after the originators of this market segment, the Vio POV cameras were being used for extreme sports fanatics. While the Vio wa considered a premium camera at a premium price, catering to a small niche market.  GoPro decided to go the other way and produce a quality camera at a much more affordable price while trimming back some of the higher end features.  That turned out to be a good move for GoPro as they have far surpassed the Vio in terms of sales and helped bring helmet cameras to the masses.

These days, you can't go without hearing the term "action camera" without thinking GoPro.  The company has become a household name, as much a lifestyle product as a consumer device. And, if you've got kids, it won't be very long until they are asking you to buy them one.  But, before the price was reduced, GoPros started out around $499 and a lot of people just wouldn't bite at that price point. The manufacturer finally addressed the problem with the new GoPro Hero (MSRP, about $129.99) - a GoPro perfect for entry level users and buyers.

At this new low price, considering all the features - waterproof, high definition and a wide variety of options such as a plethora of mounts (chest, helmet, etc.) it's an incredible deal.  If you're a beginner or need a basic high quality  "action camera", this is the camera for you.  And, though the price is low, the features and performance of this little gem again, is making the GoPro a high consideration.

Underwater Action

Martin Fisch, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr Commons
underwater GoPro Action ( #cc )
underwater GoPro Action ( #cc )

The Pro and Cons and the Bottom Line of the GoPro Hero

The Pros

The GoPro Hero, well, looks kinda like a GoPro.  If you've seen one of the small cameras attached to a helmet, bicycle or self stick somewhere before, you know what I'm talking about.  It's a rugged tiny action camera that you can take and mount just about anywhere.  Unlike several of its siblings though, the basic Hero comes permanently attached within it's rugged protective shell and when shut up tightly, it's capable of withstanding 40 meters of water and plenty of knocks and taps.

As a GoPro, it also allows you access into the vast list of different mounting systems available. Meaning, you'll be able to pop the action camera almost anywhere if you have the correct mount.  Battery life is pretty good as we were able to continuously keep shooting for around two and half hours before it finally gave out.  That's more than enough time to shoot your outdoor adventures, while recharging can take up to two full hours.  Of course, having two batteries is the ultimate plan.  Use one while charging the other one.

It shoots great video and decent still images as well.  It comes with a 5 Megpixel sensor, capable of shooting high definition 1080p at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 frames per second, which does the job well if you're not looking for 4K worthy clips.  For the price, its definitely a high contender, but you do have to bring your own storage to the party.  This means, you'll need to pony up for a Micro-SD card, which the Hero supports up to 32GB of storage on SD.

The Cons

As the budget, entry level GoPro, the Hero is missing out on plenty of functionality that it's bigger brothers are quite proud of.  For starters, the polycarbonate housing is not replaceable.  This means, if it does get all bashed up or you scratch the lens cover, you'll have to shell out the cash for a completely new GoPro Hero instead of just swapping out the case.

The battery is also built-in, and you won't be able to just change it out in the wild, so it would be best to pack an external USB battery pack.  The biggest let down though, is that it doesn't pack in GoPro's accessory port.  This means that you can't just hook up Wi-Fi or LCD modules, making it's versatility much more limited.

Annoyingly, the Hero's quick capture feature lets you turn on the camera and start shooting instantly with the press of a button.  This sounds all good, but if it's rumbling around in your camera bag or backpack, it can easily turn on and start shooting when you don't mean to and will wear down your battery completely.

The Bottom Line

While the GoPro Hero doesn't have all the fancy features of the more expensive models, it's still a more than capable little digital action camera.  It's well priced to get you started and joining the GoPro craze.  If you're not looking for all the extra high end features of the the GoPro Hero 4, you will be quite happy with this introductory model, Hero.

GoPro: Speedflying Through Buildings

Gage Galles, Std YouTube License

Design and Usability

The GoPro is fairly basic and easy to use. There is no viewfinder or read LCD, so you can't see what you're shooting. YOu simply set it up, point it at your subject and start filming your video with a small box with a wide-angle lens and a tiny monochrome LCD on the front face of the device.


What makes GoPro special is it's case, which is waterproof, shockproof and lets it survive in all manners of a good beating.  Additionally, it does come with an array of different mounting solutions, letting you attach it to anything from the exterior of a car to a helmet to a surfboard.  with the GoPro Hero, all the usual bells and whistles have been shaved off.  The camera itself has also been permanently affixed to the place case instead of removable like the higher-end versions.  Mostly, people leave the case on all the time, anyway.  So, this issn't usually a huge deal, but it does mean that you can't remove the battery or use GoPro's extended battery adapter package.

Given that the current flagship, the GoPro Hero 4 Black is already minimalist at heart, it's no surprise that the dead simple Hero doesn't feel much different at all. With a whopping two buttons, a lens, small LCD screen, SD slot and USB connection in the rear, the  Hero keeps things simple enough that anyone can shoot as soon as you get it out of the box.


From the research perspective, GoPro Hero stood up pretty darn well against the much more expensive Black and Silver models.  In our tests, the hero showed a slightly higher color accuracy rate than either the Silver or Black models.

This doesn't mean you should expect better color from the Hero, but in perfect settings, it was at the very least right up there with them.  Noise also scored a bit better by showing less noise in both normal and low light conditions.  Although, we believe this to be due more to noise reduction being employed by the older model's sensor.

Unfortunately, that noise reduction does come at a cost: very fine detail.  From analysis and observation, it was only around 475 LPPH horizontally and 500 LPPH vertically while shooting 1080p at 30 frames per second, meaning it was much softer than the other GoPro models of the test team of digital action cameras.

This isn't a strong showing for performance and without the full 1080p video motion truly isnt' much better.  Shooting in 720 will show better results while filming motion due to the higher framerate (60p), the footage is simply not as sharp.  It's about on par with most waterproof point-and-shoots, though admittedly even those are much more expensive than the Hero.

If there is one shining light here, it has to be battery life.  In this aspect, the Hero is much better than it's high end siblings, thanks to the lack of power-hungry features that this model lacks.  When tested, the Hero got a full three hours while shooting high definition footage.  That is far beyond what most GoPros will give you, though with no interchangeable battery, it's obviously necessary.


Okay, so let's get back to the basics.  As we indicated, the Hero is the basic, introductory model - pared completely down as opposed to it's bigger brother and sister, Silver and Black.  So, if you're looking for all the bells and whistles, this one may not be the HD action camera for you.  Unlike it's brother and sister, the lowly Hero can only shoot 1080 at 30 and 24 frames per second as well as 720p at 60 and 50 fps.  With top tier GoPros recording 1080 at 60 and even 120 FPS, this is the main area where the Hero gets left in the dust.

Possibly, the biggest missing feature, understandably so, is WiFi access.  Normally, WiFi doesnt' mean much, but with GoPros, which lack an LCD monitor in the rear, you have no way to see what you're shooting until after you've shot it.  Normally, you would have a way to combat it with a remote connection, using an external LCD or WiFi to monitor our shot from your smartphone.

The Hero isn't compatible with either solution. It's simple set-it-and-forget-it digital camborder, but it's also not much more than that.

GoPro HD Hero Camera - Specifications at a Glance:
  • 1080p - 1920x1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
  • 960p - 1280x960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps, 12 Mbit/s data rate
  • 720p - 1280x720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
  • WVGA - 848x480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
  • Large 1/2.5" HD CMOS Sensor
  • Waterproof camera housing good for up to 140 feet/40 meter depth
  • 5 MegaPixel Sensor
  • Single and Burst mode still photo options
  • H.264 Codec, saved as PC & Mac compatible MPEG4 (.mp4) file
  • Auto exposure controls with user selectable center weighted average and spot metering
  • Auto White Balance
  • 127 to 170 degree wide angle lens
  • AAC audio, 48khz compression
  • Built in microphone with automatic gain control
  • SDHC memory card support for up to 32 GB for up to 8 hours video
  • Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery - Up to 2.5 hours per charge.
  • Charging via USB to computer or optional power adapter
  • HDTV Out: HD NTSC and PAL, component cable included
  • Audio Out: combo 2.5 mm jack, includes combo stereo audio and composite video out cable
  • Full Line of Mounting Accessories
  • Innovative Hero Bus expansion port accepts LCD and extra battery packs with more on the way

The GoPro Hero Review Conclusion

Our Final Thoughts

We wouldn't recommend picking up the Hero for serious filmmakers or photographers, but if you want a camera to take with you to Disneyland or to pop on your board when learning to skateboard or surf, this camera will get it done and get it done cheap.  A name doesn't usually count for much in the digital camera arena, but when it comes to fulfilling your teens wishlist without breaking the bank, this GoPro will certainly get the job done.


While there are not a lot of features on the Hero, it's important to remember the price point we're talking about.  For only $129, you a getting an extremely good value.  You aren't getting the amazing action camera performance and features of the GoPro Silver and Black additions, but you get a solid little HD action camera for less than half the price.


The silver lining here, in addition to price, is that the Hero will shine well above the competition and even when compared to other GoPro cameras.  The biggest area that dominates is the three-hour battery life, which could certainly be used for amazing and professional time lapse video.  The Hero also soars over the competition like the Polaroid Cube which only gives you half the continuous shooting time.  Coupled with endless possibilities offered with the GoPro mounting system, the Hero is easily worth the extra few bucks.

Updated: 06/29/2015, PjGermain
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blackspanielgallery on 07/11/2015

Nice presentation.

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