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GoPro HD Hero2 Review

GoPro HD Hero 2 Outdoor Edition
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Price:  $300 List
Pros:  Great image quality, comes with many mounts and waterproof case, 11mp camera, great value, LCD display
Cons:  Bulky as a side mount, Tele-tubby look, no (optional) smartphone viewing/streaming until February.
Manufacturer:   GoPro
By Matt Gerdes ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 1, 2013
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The Skinny

Discontinued

The GoPro HD Hero2 is a big improvement over the original Hero and winner of our Editors' Choice award in 2011. But now there is the GoPro Hero5 which is our top rated camera.

We frequently used the Hero2 and the HD Hero attached on us at the same time for POV angles. The Hero2 performed noticeably better than its predecessor and the Contour+. The low-light conditions were challenging, to say the least, and the Hero2 consistently delivered richer colors and seemed to cut through the haze better than the Hero. In short, the footage looked a good bit nicer on the Hero2. Given the choice, I would not hesitate to spend the few bucks extra to get it instead of the original Hero. The first generation GoPro HD Hero still delivers a great camera with loads of mounts for $240. However, we really do feel it is worth spending the extra $60 to get the Hero2.

Overall, GoPro has delivered a very powerful little camera with this Hero2 and it is a solid choice for any POV use. However, the Contour+ remains more extra-feature-rich and will appeal to users who value its Bluetooth capability, GPS recording and configurability. Check out the complete Helmet Cam Review.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Hero2 at a glance: how it differs from the Original Hero

  • Improved image quality. Much better image quality than the Hero and better than the Contour+.
  • Now has external mic jack. This was one of the key benefits the Contour+ used to have over the Hero.
  • Viewable on a smartphone through WiFi. However, this feature will not be available until Feb 2012 and will require purchasing and extra adapter that goes on the back of the camera. Smartphone viewing is available on the Contour+ today and does not require buying extra adapters.
  • Price didn't change! Still $300. The mid-range Hero is now $240 with a sport package or $200 naked. The 960 is only $150.
  • Now has an 11-megapixel camera (Hero and Contour have 5mp cameras). Also, the camera shoots up to 10 frames a second for action photo sequences.
  • Improved LCD Screen.

Likes


As we were about to go to "press" with the first generation HD Hero vs. Contour+, GoPro announced the release of the Hero2. The news was not shocking, as we had already had the opportunity to play with the Hero2 in China while on the Jeb Corliss cave flight adventure. GoPro sent one of their minions to film us BASE jumping in the Hunan province, and our tests with it there consisted mainly of sticking Hero2s all over ourselves for a variety of angles and shots in what was consistently hazy, less-than-perfect light.

Apart from a sharper, more color-rich image, the Hero2 also boasts a range of new photo modes and an improved 11mp still image. Incredibly, it is capable of taking ten 11mp images per second, which will make for some pretty sweet action sequence shots. And, if you want both still and video images of the same action… then get two cameras. It's not capable of unbridled magic, yet.

The LCD screen resolution is far higher and this somehow makes the camera feel a bit more modern. This allows for more info (and by virtue of that, fewer cryptic symbols), to be displayed on screen. The record mode light is larger and more visible in daylight. What is unchanged is the size and shape of the camera and housing. This means that, conveniently, it will fit all of your old Hero cases and mounts, but don't expect it to have a larger lens or a slimmer body. There is a full comparison on the GoPro site.

All these packages stayed about the same except the surf edition has smaller mounts and comes with two. Also, they changed the name of the Helmet Hero package to Outdoor Edition.

Dislikes


No major dislikes; it is an improvement over the Hero in every way. However, it still has some of the minor dislikes we had with the Hero. It is much bulkier than the Contour+, especially if you want a side mount on a helmet. It does not have the best look.

The Contour+ has more features for the techy user that the GoPro lacks:
  • Contour+ streams to smartphones now with no extra accessories needed.
  • Contour+ and Contour GPS have GPS.
  • All contour cameras let you configure the settings with your computer.


Matt Gerdes