October 24, 2011

GoPro HD Hero2 goes live

The new GoPro HD Hero2 camera is much improved, with an 11-megapixel sensor that should perform better in low light, a higher-quality wide-angle lens, and the possibility to stream live video via WiFi.

The original HD Hero has been widely used in broadcasting, as it can fit anywhere, comes with a waterproof housing, and costs so little, so the improved model should be very popular with programme makers.

The HD Hero2 costs $299 (coming in kits with mounts suitable for motor sport, water sports, and other action uses)

Improvements include a 2x faster image processor and 2x sharper glass lens, but for live events probably the most interesting addition is the upcoming, waterproof Wi-Fi Remote and the Wi-Fi BacPac (which fits to the camera). The Wi-Fi BacPac also enables remote control via a smartphone, tablet or computer running a free GoPro app.

Besides the ability to remotely control up to 50 GoPro cameras (including the original HD Hero), the WiFi features will also deliver a live video or photo stream (Hero2 only).

The live video will be useful to see what the GoPro is looking at, as setting one up has often involved a certain amount of guesswork.

Other new features include: a simpler LCD interface; a mini-HDMI port; an integrated battery warmer, to enable longer battery life in low temperatures; and a 3.5mm jack for an external microphone. The lens can be switched between a wide-angle 170º field-of-view, a medium 127º and a narrow 90º FoV in 1080p and 720p video, and between 170º and 127º for photos.

It also boasts "much improved low light performance" and can capture up to ten 11-megapixel photos in a one second burst, and deliver automatic time-lapse photos with a half-second interval between photos, making it useful as a stills camera for action sports.

The original 1080p HD Hero, launched in 2009, remains available, but at a lower price, listing at $199.99 – $239.99 (compared to $259.99 – $299.99 previously).

By David Fox

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