Review: GoPro HD HERO 2

Cameras Pro Reviews

Camera Operation
New: The modal beeps are much louder, and there are four visual led lights (top, bottom, rear and front) for better indication of camera recording.

The camera is operated using the power/mode (located on front) button, and the shutter/select (located on top) button. Once the desired camera options are set using its deep menu system (viewed from the LCD status screen), a simple push of the shutter button stops and starts the camera’s recording operation. The camera’s settings are accessed through a combination of the two buttons, using the menu system as a visual aid. To turn on the camera, just push the front power button, and it announces itself with three beeps. After choosing the video resolution, you push the shutter button to start the recording. The camera beeps once, and the indicator light begins to blink. To stop the recording, push the shutter button, and it beeps three times, and the light stops blinking. The camera was problematic in that I am not sure what it is up to without taking it off my head, and looking at the indicator light or the status screen. Cameras with a more mechanical on/off lever alleviate that issue. Another point of contention is that is sort of hard to know what you are capturing on the unit, so you have to use the alignment of the camera body itself to know what it is shooting, or use the optional LCB BacPak (or the new Wi-Fi system).

Thoughts: I love the uber loud new beeps, as it really makes it easy in typical outdoor conditions (noisy) to hear what the camera is doing. I am looking forward to having the Wi-Fi BacPak, since the current system to check what you’re capturing is a pain, and problematic, especially when using a helmet mount.

User Interface/LCD Status Screen
New: Simpler language-based interface

The new UI menu system is worlds ahead of its predecessor, and the old cryptic mode and status icons have given way to an intuitive and easy to understand the setup. When I first got the unit it had no manual, yet I could poke my way through the menu hierarchy, and choose the proper video resolution and get the date setup. The LCD screen is where you see the current status, such as the battery level, video resolution setting, shooting mode (photo, video, triple shot, timer), picture or video count, etc. As you go through the menu system, using the power/mode and shutter/select buttons, various icons, numbers and language are highlighted on the LCD screen, allowing multiple camera options to be set.

In the above photo, the upper left hand screen shows video camera mode, wide-angle field of view, 960p video resolution with 48 fps, and the battery charge (bar graph and time left). The upper right-hand side is what is seen when choosing the video resolution, the choices on the screen are 960p/30 fps, 960p/48 fps and 1080p/30 fps.

Thoughts: The new UI is really nice, and makes it easy to make changes without having to resort to the user manual. It’s still a bit cumbersome, and isn’t quite up to the UIs of normal cameras, but it’s a grand sweeping change from the previous cryptic interface. I think what you see on the main screen when not in the menu system is the handiest, and provides very useful information, such as an actual numeric video mode value and it’s fps, along with a useful remaining battery count.

Expansion Port/BacPak’s
New: The new Wi-Fi BacPac and Remote will allow remote control and live streaming to smartphones, tablets and computers.

The back of the camera has an expansion port, that will allow optional expansion packs (called BakPac) to be connected. The current BakPac’s list is an LCD screen (to view videos/pictures), and a battery extender. The BakPac’s will come with an expanded back door, so that the fatter camera (camera with attached BakPac) will fit inside the waterproof housing. The Wi-Fi BacPac will enable long range video remote control via the Wi-Fi Remote or a smartphone, tablet or computer running the GoPro Wi-Fi App. The waterproof and durable Wi-Fi Remote enables complete control of up to 50 HD HERO2 cameras at a time (wow), so some pretty wild multiple camera setups could be done. It will allow live video streaming and remote control, through smart-devices, computers, and the Web or a mobile hotspot. The original HD HERO is compatible with the Wi-Fi BacPac and Remote, but only for remote control functionality. The Wi-Fi BacPac and Remote should be released sometime later this year.

Thoughts: I am looking forward to trying out the new Wi-Fi stuff, mostly for the live streaming to a smartphone, which will greatly aid controlling what the camera is capturing.

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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