Heads up – April 8th, 2019: The GoPro Hero 7 Black is currently $50 off, with a free 32gb MicroSD card. This is a pretty good deal, as we rarely see GoPro Hero 7 Black deals outside the holidays.
I definitely don’t expect this to mean any sort of new camera is on the way. GoPro pretty much only does that in September annually. Instead, this is them trying to earn your sale when the weather starts to warm. This camera continues to be my daily driver for all outdoor activities, love it. My full review here.
While I normally don’t post about products unless I’ve had hands-on time, I’m also keenly aware of how many e-mails/tweets/etc I’d get if I didn’t post about this one. The new cameras are apparently already on the way to me, so I’ll likely have a better hands-on first-impression of them soon (and then likely an in-depth review some period later). In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown.
The Technical Low-Down:
The new GoPro HERO+ LCD is sorta exactly as the name implies: It’s the 2014 GoPro HERO…plus…an LCD screen. Well, and connectivity over WiFi and Bluetooth Smart.
You’ll likely remember that the entry level GoPro HERO was $129US, and had a non-removable external case. That meant that you couldn’t take it out of the case, which in turn meant you couldn’t add in any additional rear-attaching accessories such as the extra battery packs or LCD screen.
With the HERO+ LCD, the display problem is now solved, with this new $299USD offering including the LCD built into the back of it.
They also added in the WiFi and Bluetooth Smart compatibility. Not for sensors, but rather for connecting to your mobile phone. This connectivity allows you to transfer photos and videos over to your phone, and then up to the interwebs. Further, the HERO+ LCD includes the remote highlight tagging, which wasn’t available on the lower end model. This means you can use the remote control to tag highlights so you can find them quicker later on during editing.
Finally, the camera has an internal editing capability, allowing you to slice the clips a bit better before transferring them. This helps reduce the time to transfer video clips to your phone, making the process a little bit quicker. This is planned to come to the HERO4 Silver later this summer, and the HERO4 Black as well (if you have bought the additional LCD back touchscreen).
Now the downside is that you can’t swap out batteries like the more expensive HERO4 Silver & HERO4 Black. Nor can you remove it from the case like those other units (at +$100 and +$200 respectively). You’ll also lack the 2.7K and 4K video, as well as some of the higher speed options found like the 120/240FPS speeds. Same goes for lack of HDMI connectivity.
But the reality is that for the vast majority of folks wanting an affordable camera, the specs hit the core of the market. The noted 2.5 hour battery life is in the ballpark of most other units these days (though, without a way to swap batteries, that can be a problem for certain activities). Here’s a comparison between the four GoPro HERO units:
The Hero+ LCD unit includes a few different back doors, so you can use it in wet environments and still touch the screen, as well as using an open door too.
This is a brilliant move by GoPro. Since last October’s announcements came out, it left a bit of a hole in the price range. They had the GoPro HERO Basic (2014 Edition) at $129, but then the next camera up was at $399US (HERO4 Silver), and then the HERO4 Black at $499 at the top. For many (including myself), the brilliant touch screen on the back of the HERO4 Silver was loved – but for most consumers that was a bit pricey when existing action cameras were mostly in the $200-$300 range. But with GoPro’s cheaper HERO base not having mobile phone connectivity and a bunch of other limitations, it wasn’t as ideal in the share-it-instantly world that is today.
By removing the 2.7K/4K support in the HERO4 Silver and focusing on 1080p (w/60FPS) support with good phone connectivity – they hit the majority of the audience (Oh, for those curious why I’ve said that Garmin needed to be at 2.7K support on their new XE product, it’s because they priced themselves that high).
In some ways, it’s almost like GoPro did a bit of a fake-you-out move price-wise. See, both TomTom and Garmin recently announced new cameras – and matched GoPro’s $399 prices for certain models (for reasons that even then seemed hard to justify). With those cameras being less well known, and specs to the average consumer in the same range – it was a hard sell. With the GoPro brand so strong, you have to compete and beat on multiple levels: Specifications and Prices.
In the case of Garmin, this move is even more so ironic – given Garmin recently cut the display when they updated Garmin VIRB lineup with the X/XE and decided to go without the preview screen that was present on the first generation units. A move that many of you thought was short-sighted (no PUN intended).
Looking forward, the real question is will GoPro again release this fall as they have done annually for years? With neither the recently announced Garmin or TomTom units actually shipping yet – it might be challenging for both if GoPro doubles down as usual in the fall with new models. In Garmin’s case, they are better positioned with a more unique offering around widely extended sensor offerings in the X/XE range, including new automotive and boating support – but that continues to be more of a niche offering at the $299 price point when trying to compete with GoPro branding/marketing. While TomTom will need to iterate quickly with their automated movie maker software to truly become a competitive offering.
Definitely an interesting market for sure. For those curious about my recommendations – for 95% of folks it’ll likely shift from the Hero4 Silver to the HERO+ LCD, assuming there are no issues with it. The reason being that if you’re using it for cycling and such, you can actually use your Garmin Edge device with the GoPro, inside of Garmin’s free VIRB Edit software suite – thus getting all the benefits of data overlays there (I suppose Garmin is probably happy you’re buying their device). It’s really only if you’re doing direct to camera sensors and don’t already have a GPS device for speed/distance/pace/altitude that I’d recommend looking at the Garmin X/XE lineup.
Thanks for reading!
Note: You can now order the Hero+ LCD via both Amazon and Clever Training. While both sites help support the site here and all the work I do, by using Clever Training you’re also going to save 10% on your order with DCR Reader Coupon Code DCR10BTF – further, you’ll get free shipping within the US!
Simply use the links at the left and you’ll be on your way in no time!
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