Review: GoPro HD HERO2

Cameras Pro Reviews

Memory/Storage
It takes SDHC (Secure Digital High-Capacity) cards up to 32GB in size, and class 4 or higher are recommended, and if you are taking burst of ten photos or 1/2 second time-lapse, then a class 10 cards are required. 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 (File Allocation Table) limitation, so you will need to piece the files together in an editor to have a full timeline.

Battery
The camera uses an internal rechargeable Lithium Ion 3.7V 1100mAh battery, which is charged using a computer USB port for its replenishment, and there is an optional car charger. The battery fits very snugly into the rear slot, so that it won’t give any issues with high vibration activities, like mountain biking, but it does make it tougher to extract for swapping purposes. The battery is supposed to last 2.5 hours per charge, but it varies depending on the temperature and chosen video resolution, and with 1080p I got 2.2 hours, while 720p gave me 2.4 hours. The battery also operates a warmer, which helps the battery life in colder temperatures, and the extended service was quite noticeable on rides below freezing. There is an optional battery BacPac, which gives twice the battery life, but I haven’t tested it for verification of any statistics. I always carry a spare battery on any rides, just in case of any unforeseen issues. I have forgotten more than once to recharge the battery after use, and it’s a bummer to get out in the field without an extra.

Housing
The clear plastic housing is a nice unit, that is rugged, durable, resists contamination and is waterproof to 60 meters/197 feet. The housing is made of polycarbonate and has a replaceable front lens, and a door that swings on stainless steel hinge pins. The back door has a tough waterproof gasket and is removable, so that the optional slotted skeleton door can be installed for better sound quality, with an obvious loss of waterproofness. Once the camera is placed in the housing, close the door and hook the latch on it, and clamp it down tight. I have used the camera kayaking, and biking in the rain and mud, and can attest to its tight seals and the protection it affords. On the bottom of the housing is a two toothed or slotted connector, which attaches up to their mounting system or quick-release buckle via a thumb screw. The housing has two springs loaded buttons, which interface to the camera’s shutter/select and power/mode buttons, so all camera functions can be accomplished from the outside. Although it’s tough, the bubbled out lens can get scratched, albeit it’s at least replaceable. The closure latch can be temperamental sometimes, and either not work or pop out of place.

User Interface/LCD Status Screen
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 easier to understand the setup. When I first got the test 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 or photo resolution settings, shooting mode (video, photo, burst, time lapse, timer), picture or video count, etc. As you navigate 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 and parameters to be set.

The power/mode button moves you linearly through the camera mode screens, which include the video, photo, burst, time lapse, timer and finally settings, which allows entrance to the menu system to change the camera’s configurations. Within the setting’s menu, you use the power/mode to move through the main screens, and use the shutter/select to go into a subscreen, and use the power/mode to move through the parameters in the subscreen, and shutter/select to accept the change. Using the combination of the two buttons in that manner, any allowable configuration permutation can be obtained.

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 too linear in its usage, 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 mode screens when not in the configuration system is the handiest, and provides very pertinent information, such as an actual numeric video mode value and its fps, recording mode icons, along with a remaining battery count and SD card resources.

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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  • Francis says:

    I’ve been using the Hero 2 a lot lately. I think it’s the best in the POV category cause the quality is awesome and the selection of mounts is second to none. But it’s not perfect. Here’s my pros and cons.

    Pros:
    - impeccable video quality
    - ruggedness, durability and versatility of mounts
    - chest mount design is worth noting

    Cons:
    - way too expensive
    - no screen and have no idea where it’s aimed
    - user interface is still bad. It took me 10 rides to be confident that it’s turned on.
    - battery life is so short. it seems battery life is wasted as it is always heating itself
    - construction and button feel is very far below regular ‘camera’ or ‘phone’ quality.

  • Donny says:

    Excellent write-up and videos!

  • russ says:

    Thanks for the review! Is it best for the battery to be topped of with a charge after each use even if it won’t be used again for more than a week?

    • Brian Mullin says:

      Russ: It depends on how long you go between periods of usage. If it ends up being a couple of weeks, then top it off, otherwise it should be fine. And as I mentioned, get a spare battery and carry it with you!

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