Today GoPro announced its latest action camera, the GoPro HERO+ LCD. This marks the first time GoPro has done an ‘off-cycle’ release of a new camera product, as the company has historically released new action cams in the September/October timeframe. It also bookends a rather busy week of announcements for the company. Last week they announced both their intentions of launching a drone early next year, as well as their crazy 6-camera spherical mount system. And that’s all before we talk about an apparent upcoming software update to start cloud sync of GoPro files to some sort of still unannounced internet service. And don’t forget that even more crazy 16-camera virtual reality mount they built for Google.
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:
Function/Feature GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 25th, 2016 @ 7:18 pm New Window Price $129 $299 $399 $499 Availability Global June 7th, 2015 Global Global WiFi Builtin No Yes Yes Yes Bluetooth to Phone No Yes Yes Yes Recording Light Yes Yes Yes Yes GPS builtin No No No No Altimeter builtin No No No No Water Resistant 40m with included case 40m with included case 40m with included case 40m with included case Accellerometer No No No No Video Preview Screen No Yes Yes Accessory Voice Control No No Battery GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Recharges via Mini-USB Mini-USB Mini-USB Mini-USB Removable battery 1180 mAh (non-removable) No Yes / 1160 mAh Yes / 1160 mAh Recording Time Up to 2.5 hours 2.5 Hours 2 Hours Up to 1hr 50min, 65min at 4K Secondary attached battery No No Accessory Accessory Storage GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Storage Card Type MicroSD Card MicroSD Micro-SD MicroSD Card Maximum Card Size 32GB 64GB 64GB 64GB Video GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black 4K No No 12.5/15 fps 24/25/30 fps 2.7K No No 24/25/30 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps 1440p No No 24/25/30/48 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60/80 fps 1080p 30 fps 25/30/50/60 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60/80/90/120 fps Records 360* Video No No No No Automatic Image Rotation No No Yes (Feb 2015 update) Yes (Feb 2015 update) Image Stabilization No No Looping Recordings Yes Yes Yes Timelapse Mode (constructs timelapse video) No (requires desktop software) No (requires desktop software) Yes (Feb 2015 update) Yes (Feb 2015 update) Travelapse/Hyperlapse Mode No No Pro Settings Mode Yes Yes Audio GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Internal Microphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Supports Bluetooth Microphones No No Pro mode with seperate tracks No No Photo GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Megapixels 5MP 8MP 12 MP 12 MP Timelapse Mode (photos on interval) 0.5 0.5,1,2,5,10,30,60s 0.5,1,2,5,10,30,60s 0.5,1,2,5,10,30,60s Burst Mode Up to 5 photos/second Up to 5 photos/second Up to 30 photos/second Up to 30 photos/second Continuous Shooting Mode No No Yes Yes Concurrent w/video mode No No Yes Yes Records 360* Photo No No No No Pro Settings Mode Yes Yes RAW photo creation support No No Sports GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Skiing Mode No No No No Control from sport computer No No No No ANT+ Sensor Connectivity No No No No Bluetooth Sensor Connectivity No No ANT+ Profile Types No No No No Overlays sport data on recording No No No No Phone GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black App platforms available Not compatible iOS/Android/Windows Phone iOS/Android/Windows Phone iOS/Android/Windows Phone Use as remote control No Yes Yes Yes Video preview No Yes Yes Yes Transfer video-photos from camera No Yes Yes Yes Multi-camera live control/preview No No NO No Software GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black App for computer GoPro Studio GoPro Studio GoPro Studio GoPro Studio Accessory GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Remote control button/key Not compatible Yes Yes Yes Diving case Included Included Included Included Device Connections GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black USB Connector Type Mini-USB Mini-USB Mini-USB Mini-USB Micro-HDMI No No Yes Yes Composite Video No No Adapter Available Adapter Available Audio 3.5mm Stereo Mic No No Adapter Available Adapter Available Purchase GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Amazon Link Link Link Link DCRainmaker GoPro Hero (Base) GoPro Hero+ LCD GoPro Hero4 Silver GoPro Hero4 Black Review Link Link Link Link Link
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!