By Rex Perzeus Fajardo Sardinia
Casual travelers, newbie vloggers, and first-time action camera users are most likely the people in mind of GoPro, Inc. when it launched Hero 2018 early this year.
At first glance
Hero is GoPro’s entry-level camera for 2018, which looks exactly the same as its predecessors Hero5 and Hero6. It is rugged and compact with the same rubberized matte gray body that’s waterproof down to 33 feet (10 meters) even without an underwater case. It also has the same connectivity features, with USB-C port and HDMI output, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Hero5 and Hero6 users won’t be fumbling in operating Hero as it likewise has the same interface: the power button and shutter button, front LCD information display, and rear 2-inch touchscreen.
But apart from the design, Hero, being entry-level and cheaper version of Hero5 and Hero6 lacks the high-end specifications of its more advanced siblings. Limitations notwithstanding, its simplicity and ease-of-use, which, originally was the point of the unit, makes it worth considering.
Features and functions
Hero captures Full HD 1080p and 1440p videos at either 30 or 60 frames per second (fps). However, it does not offer 4K resolution recording which can be a bummer especially since there are other brands such as the first generation Yi 4K camera which has 4K shooting capability at almost the same price point.
While the lack of 4K might bother experienced users, casual users and first-timers will find the 1080p just fine. Besides, the Full HD resolution is more than decent enough for viewing on a computer or smartphone screen. In our review, we found the recorded videos captured natural-looking colors—not overexposed or oversaturated—something that cheap action cameras struggle with.
The absence of Slo-Mo feature might also be frustrating especially for those who want to capture slow-motion videos.
But what the unit lacks in advanced features it makes up for its excellent image stabilization and nifty voice control feature, which are both useful for beginners.
For instance, we used the Hero to film animals in a safari onboard a moving vehicle, and the recorded video had barely any shaking and the transition was rather smooth.
Letting users operate a few features on the action camera through voice control is also a great addition. When the unit is turned on, one can simply say “GoPro, start recording,” or “GoPro, stop recording” to take videos hands-free. Taking photos, time-lapse video, and burst, as well as turning the unit off can also be controlled through the voice command feature.
Hero’s excellent audio quality is also worth noting. It has the same three-microphone array and smart audio processing capabilities as the Hero5 and Hero6 Black, which allow it to capture clear sound even from a few feet away. This is something we were able to prove when we heard a subject’s voice crisp and clear although we filmed from afar.
When it comes to still photos, with a 10MP sensor, the captured images are decent, although they look dull and somehow lack in details. But for quick snaps (thanks to voice command feature), especially those that require wide angle lens, the Hero does its job well.
Another great thing that makes Hero a better choice than other brands’ entry-level action cameras is GoPro’s Quik app, which automatically edits and combines all videos and photos into shareable videos. This means users can easily create clips and share them on social media—no need to remove the SD card or connect the camera into a computer.
We only have a few issues with the review unit we received—although this could be an isolated case. For instance, the LED indicator sometimes doesn’t turn off after hours of charging, and the battery heats up easily when recording videos, and, sometimes, when charging.
Also, the battery only lasts a couple of hours when on standby mode. We brought the unit to a theme park with 100 percent, and after about four hours of using and putting it on standby, we checked and found it only had 12 percent left. We recommend turning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection off to extend battery life.
GoPro knows exactly the specific type of users targeted for Hero. There may be advanced functions, such as 4K resolution recording, not available in the action camera, but ease-of-use features, such as touchscreen display, voice control, and straightforward options, ensure that novice users wouldn’t have a hard time operating the unit.
Will I buy it? If I love traveling and I don’t have a budget for feature-packed Hero6 to take decent photos and videos, I’ll definitely get Hero.
Sure, you can take better photos using your smartphone, but can you take it diving underwater or safely mount on a bicycle? That’s the point of GoPro Hero 2018. You can bring it anywhere, anytime, without worrying about the location or the weather.
Photos by Rex Perzeus Fajardo Sardinia
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