GoPro HD HERO Review

Cameras Pro Reviews

Mounts
The mounting system connects up to the bottom of the housing, and includes a vast array of parts and pieces (some are optional), that allow placements on the frame, helmet, handlebars and seatpost. The HD HERO is sold in different kit formats such as Helmet, Surf and Motorsports. The Helmet version is what most bikers will purchase, and includes mounts for vented and hard shell helmets.

The kit includes a vented helmet strap, a unvented helmet strap (a.k.a the jock strap), stick on mounts, and a side arm swivel. The mounts allow attachment to bikes, cars, kayaks, helmets and more. You can purchase additional more specific adapters for motorsports, surfing, and other sports uses. I tested the optional adapters that allow connection to a seatpost or handlebar, and the “Chesty” which is a chest strap system. These two accessories are a necessity to make full use of the camera’s abilities.

hd_kit

HD HERO Kit Contents

Using the easy to mount helmet strap, the housing unit has a fantastic quick snap in capability that is a dream to attach to the helmet strap mount. All that are required is a quick backwards push of the buckle onto any of the mounts, and the housing is installed. The quick release system just plain rocks, it’s so easy to take the camera on and off. I wish my bike lights all used this system.

hd_clip

Quick Release Mounting System

The mounts, adapters and swivel arms can be set up to shoot a lot of variations and viewpoints, making some interesting footage. Everything fits together like a small tinker toy set, with clamping and connection done by a plastic ended screw with a nut, which are tightened by hand. Although everything is easy to use and set up, it’s difficult to make things tight enough, and things always seem to move in the middle of a ride. Even when tightening with a screw driver, things can move accidentally and screw up a shot.

I really liked the helmet mount, which was simple to use and could be clamped down pretty tightly (fewer movements). I did think it looked like a freakin toaster on top of your head! I also enjoyed the handlebar mount, which could give some interesting perspective, and in addition it kept the camera out of my way. I found that the seatpost setup seemed to get caught on my bike shorts on occasion, which was very annoying.

hero_bar_seat

Handlebar and Seatpost Mounting

The “Chesty” was pretty cool, and was excellent for skiing and kayaking, where it ruled. I didn’t like it as much as most people, since I tend to move around too much, and saddle and stuff got in the way.

hd_chesty

The Chesty

Memory/Storage
One of the most dramatic changes from the older model is that the memory/storage capacity is now up to a whopping 32GB capacity! Much better than the measly 2GB that was the standard, although GoPro did release a 4GB memory firmware for the old HERO Wide. Unfortunately, since the 32GB cards are fairly new, they are brutally expensive, anywhere from $75 to $200+, ouch! I got a 16GB Class 6 card, which was a good compromise, especially considering the battery cannot make it to 32GB.

  • Memory statistics per single battery charge: 1080p @ 12.5GB, 960p @ 15.9GB, 720p @ 15.7GB

The SD Cards are formatted with a FAT 32 partition, which has a 4GB file size limitation. While recording, a new video file will be created once the currently recording one reaches appropriately 3. 84GB, due to the FAT limitation, so you will need to piece the files together in an editor to have a full timeline.

This brings up an issue that has been problematic for many HD HERO users. Not all SD cards seem to work properly with the camera, although this can be a common issue with a lot of digital cameras, not just the HD HERO. It seems to be hit and miss for which cards might work, for instance, all my Transcend SD cards work fine for me, but others have had issues with them. Per GoPro support, “For what it’s worth, internally we use Kingston or Patriot brand cards: 16GB, Class 4.” Issues that have been reported are short video recording times, or an inability to record.  I did not have any of these issues, and all the cards I have used have been fine. Caveat emptor.

herohd_case_sd

Housing w/ Optional Slotted Sound Door and Memory Slot

Sound
The GoPro engineers improved the sound reception of the unit  in comparison to the old unit, which I can attest to. The new pickup is readily apparent when using the optional non-waterproof back door, which has cut outs on it. I usually add music to my videos, so sound is sort of a moot point for me.

Next » Battery & Recorded Video

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Tommi says:

    Nice review, it was very helpful and well written.

    “Note: I am cross comparing the HD HERO to the old HERO Wide and VHoldR ContourHD 1080p”
    So how does it compare to these? I’m currently trying to decide which one to go for, GoPro or ContourHD.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    As requested, a crude comparison, at the bottom of page 4 http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/gopro-hd-hero-review/4/

  • Pedro,Miami,Fl says:

    I have both of them and love them but if you want a clear perfect video and pictures HD is the way to go,only one down side is the file are too large to upload them in youtube or any website, The PLUS side and I mean it when I say that is the outstanding customer service and support, The also stand behind their products warranty.I hope it help.
    Pedro,Miami Fl

  • leel says:

    I’m not sure where you’re going with that Pedro? Vimeo allows really big files. You also don’t need to generate really big video files if you’re rendering for the web.

  • ProEdgeBiker.com says:

    We currently use the ContourHD 1080p but will be soon getting one of the HeroHD’s to try out.

  • JAB says:

    Well written, thank you.

  • Pedro,Miami,Fl says:

    HI Leel I tried Vimeo and yes you are right I could do it,thanks for the info,I still like the HD Hero over countourHD BUT like I say that is my opinion everyone is free to has diferent opinion.
    Regards

  • Jaymo says:

    I have both cameras. Both put out a great image. From an industrial design standpoint, the Contour is a great looking cam and is very sleek. However, the contours design limits its mounting capabilities. GoPro has 10x the amount of mounting options, and due to its design, much more room for creativity. Also, the Contour is not waterproof. The GoPro takes a licking. Waterproof to 180ft. What? That is some serious force and pressure. My biggest recommendation is to take the time and read the GoPro manual. Do not pull a “dude” and just start using the camera. You will fumble and jack your footage. Read the manual, take your time to learn the ins and outs of the GoPro. It is a tool, and when used correctly can give you amazing footage. Also, take the time to learn about codecs and compression. If you do the homework, your footage will like like something from George Lucas.

  • JP says:

    Great review! Check out some videos from all models of GoPro at:

    http://www.youtube.com/quik564

    What a progression in such little time… gotta love GoPro! Customer service rocks too!

  • Nardo says:

    You forgot to cover the following GoPro attributes:

    1) the GoPro comes with enough mounts to attach it to 4 helmets and 2 pieces of gear (4 total adhesive mounts + vented helmet strap + head strap) whereas the Contour only comes with one single helmet mount.

    2) GoPro comes with a waterhousing whereas Contour does not (you mentioned this but not in relation to #3 below)

    3) add up the above GoPro included parts and you’d have to spend about $440 with a Contour to match all that comes with the GoPro for $299. That’s a huge $140 difference between the two, 47%, basically.

    4) The GoPro shoots 5MP photos in single shot, burst and timelapse photos modes. The Contour doesn’t shoot photos.

    5) The Contour’s sound is horrible no matter what setting you put it in. Sure you can adjust the sound volume down but all that does is make crappy sound softer.

    6) The fact that you cannot change settings on your Contour in the field without a computer is a massive negative. If you set the camera up for a certain lighting situation and go on your ride and the lighting changes significantly, you are SOL unlress you have your laptop with you. The GoPro adjusts so well to different lighting conditions that it doesn’t need manual settings. That means the Contour is making up for design inefficiencies that the GoPro doesn’t suffer from. Massive point to anyone wanting a really good automatically adjusting camera.

    7) GoPro has a 1 year warranty whereas the Contour has a 6 month warranty. Important point for a camera like this.

    Your review was pretty thorough but you left out these important GoPro advantages that make it a much better deal, and arguably much better camera, than the Contour.

  • smith says:

    Does anyone know , where I can find this camera in Miami ???????????????,,,, Im looking all over the place but I cant find it

  • Brian Mullin says:

    You could go directly to the GoPro Link

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