GoPro HD HERO Review

Cameras Pro Reviews


The HD HERO is an excellent high definition POV camera, that is light and small, with a vast array of software settings that can be changed in the field. The recorded footage has good clarity and vivid colors, and looks nice on a large TV monitor. The camera can deal extremely well with difficult daylight conditions, especially shadow to bright sunshine interactions. It’s easy to pop the card out and into a SD Card reader, for faster downloads on a computer. The polycarbonate housing is a really nice unit, its durable and waterproof, which makes it great for inclement conditions or water sports. The mounting systems (highlights to the quick release) are highly functional, and allow a plethora of placements on almost any object. The optional handlebar/seatpost and Chesty mounts are well engineered, and really add usefulness to the kit.

I did not like the soft non-positive buttons, nor the subdued on and off beeps, and it often required a visual inspection for camera status. It was hard to know what the camera was capturing due to the lack of any sort of positioning system (view finder, etc.). The mounting system is somewhat flexy and lacks shock proofing, and it’s difficult to lock down to prevent accidental movement.

The HD HERO would be a great addition for any sports enthusiast, even though it looks like a toaster oven.


  • Waterproof and durable housing
  • Vivid colors
  • Great video quality
  • In the field software setting adjustments
  • Low artifacts on edges
  • Good assortment of mounts


  • Poor shock proofing
  • Soft and non-positive shutter button
  • Indication beep are not loud enough
  • Visual inspection required for recording status
  • Mount systems can move, is slightly flexy and hard to clamp down

MSRP: $299

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers


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GoPro HD HERO Specs

What’s Included:
* 1 HD HERO Camera (5 megapixel)
* 1 Rechargeable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery
* 1 Waterproof Quick-Release Housing (180’/60 m)
* 1 Headlamp-Style Head Strap
* 1 Vented Helmet Strap
* 2 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts
* 2 Flat, 3M Adhesive Mounts
* 1 Three-Way Pivoting Side Arm Assembly
* 2 Quick-Release Buckles
* 1 USB Cable
* 1 Component Video (HDTV) Cable
* 1 Composite Video + Audio Out Cable
* Warranty: One Year

Tech Specs:

Camera Optics
* Lens Type: Fixed Focus (2ft/.6m – ∞), glass
* Aperture: f/2.8 (high performance in low-light situations)
* Angle of View: 170º ultra wide angle in WVGA, 720p, or 960p mode
* Angle of View: 127º wide angle in 1080p mode

* HD Video Resolution Modes: (subject to change, pending final firmware release)
– 1080p = 1920×1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
– 960p = 1280×960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps, 12 Mbit/s data rate
– 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
– 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
– WVGA = 848×480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
* Sensor Type: 1/2.5″ HD CMOS, 2.2µm-sized pixels
* Light Sensitivity: Super low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec)
* Video Format: H.264 compression, saved as Windows- & Mac-compatible MPEG4 (.mp4) file
* Exposure Control: Auto with user selectable center weighted average and spot metering settings
* White Balance: Auto

* Microphone: Built-in, mono with AGC (automatic gain control)
* Audio Format: 48 kHz, AAC audio compression

* Resolution: 5 megapixel
* Capture Modes: Single shot, photo every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 secs.; 3 photo burst; self-timer

* Memory: SD card, up to 32GB capacity (SDHC)
* Average recording times (using 32GB SD card):
– 1080p (30 fps): 4h 21m
– 960p (30 fps): 5h 26m
– 720p (60 fps): 4h 21
– 720p (30 fps): 8h 09m
– WVGA (60 fps): 8h 09m

Camera Connectors & Cables
* PC Connection: USB 2.0 (data connection and battery charging)
* HDTV Out: HD NTSC & PAL (component cable incl.)
* Audio Out: Combo 2.5mm jack with stereo audio and composite video out
* PC Compatibility: Windows® XP (Service Pack 2 or later) or Vista; Mac OS® X 10.4.11 and later

Power & Battery
* Battery Type: Rechargeable 1100 mAh lithium-ion
* Battery Life: Approx. 2.5 hrs
* Charging: via USB to computer or optional power adapter
* Charge Time: 80% capacity after 1 hour with optional power adapter; or 2 hours with a computer’s USB port

Waterproof Camera Housing
* Depth Rating: Up to 180 feet / 60 meters
* Construction: Polycarbonate and stainless steel
* Hardware: Stainless steel

Size & Weight
* Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2” (42mm x 60mm x 30mm)
* Weight: 3.3oz (94g) incl. battery, 5.9oz (167g) incl. housing

Optional Accessories
* Additional Rechargable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery (not yet available for pre-order)
* Full Line of Mounting Accessories

Optional Expansion Bakpacs™
An innovative expansion port on the back of the camera, the HERO Bus™ accepts optional Expansion Bakpacs to expand the functionality of HD HERO cameras:
* LCD Bakpac for on-camera preview and playback (not yet available for pre-order)
* Endurance Battery Bakpac for double battery life (not yet available for pre-order)
* More Bakpacs and expansion devices coming soon

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, 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 articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

    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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