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Jan 29, 2014 | Skiing with a GoPro Hero 3+

It’s hard to become a hard core fan of a certain piece of technology when the world I live in revolves around it, and lots of new pieces of it, every single day. Still, the GoPro, even with its notable shortcomings, stands incalculably apart from its competitors, overpriced and still very much in demand.

My 960, which I’ve had for about 3 years now, accompanied me to the top of Mt. Fuji, to the swing rides over Zurich’s rivers, to the quadcopters flying high over Stanford (it even got stuck on a tree for a couple of hours). I was careless and unforgiving, the kind of attributes you would hardly want to attribute to a camera.

The gap between the Hero 960 and the Hero 3+ is very large. The Hero 960, a cheaper version of its first editions, could film at 960p at 30fps on a standard SD card. The Hero 3+ shunned the SD card in favor of its smaller version, putting performance ahead at 4K/12.5fps or 960p at a powerful 100fps, or even going up to 240fps at WVGA. They have exactly the same width and height, though the Hero 3+ with its lens protruding is about as slim as the 960 was without the lens. The 3+ merged two outputs for HDTV and sound into one mini HDMI connector, though its kept the mini USB connector. An additional wifi button lets a user remotely view and control the camera, with an additional blue LED indicator light to show its status. The side USB ports are covered by a detachable door.

In the box that it ships in, a small portable wifi remote rounds out an otherwise standard assortment of connectors, joints and pegs.

I spent the weekend at Laax, a ski resort some 2 hours from Zurich, putting a shiny new GoPro to the test. The larger round button made for a much easier navigation, but this was offset by a diverse array of menu options, which were easy to get lost in. I had hoped either the remote or the wifi app would let me make better use of both the memory and the battery available to me, but I quickly realized how idiotic it would look to use an app while somewhere on a mountain, so the phone was quickly discarded. The wifi remote was elegant, but not having enough time to get used to it, I was confused – for example, not being sure if my remote being off meant my camera would be off as well, though not the wifi. I was conscious of battery, too, especially given that it was cold. And to be safe, while I was having my ski pole repaired I grabbed an extra attachment kit for my helmet, just in case the sticker fell off.

Inevitably, its weaknesses were made more pronounced the harsher I treated it. The battery outperformed the memory available with about 30 minutes of footage recorded on my 8GB memory card, though at the time I thought it was a battery issue. After (what I thought to be) a fairly elegant ski jump the impact cause the sticker keeping it connected to my helmet to dislodge, making it almost impossible to put back on in the cold. The wifi remote, well, I’m going to have to file a lost and found request to try to get it back – I suspect it fell off when I got on or off a ski lift. Of course replacing it would cost me more money than I would be happy paying for.

But in terms of image quality, the 3+ makes your jaw drop. The field of view on the 3+ is astonishingly wide, and the colors are lifelike, not tinted in a slightly orange hue like it is with the 960. The blue sky and white snow never cause one or the other to appear washed out. The ability to slow down action is essential to bringing to life an active lifestyle.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 at 5:49 pm, EST under the category of Articles. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.