Review: GoPro Hero HD Helmet Camera

Helmet cameras have come a long way to say the least.  Go Pro’s newest offering, the Hero HD, takes their helmet camera to another level.  The Hero HD offers HD resolutions with video quality that is arguably as good as any other helmet camera out there today.  Read the details inside on what we thought of the Go Pro Hero HD.

Contents:

contents (click to enlarge)

contents (click to enlarge)

  • 5 Megapixel HD Helmet HERO Camera
  • Rechargeable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery
  • 1 Waterproof Quick-Release Housing
  • 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 Assembled
  • 2 Quick-Release Buckles
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Component Video (HDTV) Cable
  • 1 Composite Video + Audio Out Cable

PointOfViewCameras.com also includes a high quality 4GB memory card that typically isn’t included with the Hero HD package.  This gets you rolling and on your way right out of the box without any additional fees. The cost of this base package is $299.99

The helmet camera is a small form factor that is a cube (1.6″ x 2.4″ x 1.2″ (42mm x 60mm x 30mm)) .  It is reminiscent of a miniature disposable camera but don’t be fooled by its small size.  The Hero HD offers a variety of video settings to suit your needs.

camera and waterproof case (click to enlarge)

GoPro Hero HD resolutions

  • 1080P 1920 x 1080 @ 30fps
  • 960p 1280 x 960 @ 30fps (HD tall)
  • 720p 1280 x 720 @ 30fps
  • 720p 1280 x 720 @ 60 fps
  • WVGA 848 x 480

When in 1080p mode, the Hero HD has a wide angle view of 127 degrees and 170 degrees in the other modes.  Compared to the VHoldr ContourHD, this gives you an extra 17 degrees in the 1080p mode and and extra 35 degrees in the other settings.  This can be a gift or a curse depending on what you’re after in your video recording.  The wider angle helps capture more trail, but can also make the video lose depth of field / size.

In addition to allowing you to switch between these video modes through the menu system, there are also two picture modes available as well (5MP).   We haven’t used the picture mode much but it does allow options for you to take a single picture or  multiple pictures every few seconds (this is modifiable in the menu setup).

The GoPro camera itself gets enclosed in a waterproof case.  It fits snugly and is protected quite nicely from the elements.  With the included battery, we never ran out of power during our use with the 4GB memory card. To recharge the battery, you just plug the unit into a USB port with the included cable. Transferring video or pictures is also done through this same cable with your computer.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Video file sizes range depending on the settings you recorded the video at but HD content can take up memory quickly so having a big hard drive is highly recommended. At 1080p setting, we found it uses almost 1MB per second. A bigger memory card can be used as well if you require more time (32GB SHDC memory cards are available).

camera port detail (click to enlarge)

memory card slot (click to enlarge)

The 1080P video looks very good.  The camera transitions pretty well in most all light conditions. To say that helmet cameras have come a long way would be an understatement here.

960p Tall VideoPointOfViewCameras.com : back country skiing

Editing the 1080p video might be hard for those of you who have slower computers but the other video options shouldn’t be quite as intensive for your computer to handle should you have an issue.  The other option is to just upload the video footage directly to Vimeo / Youtube and watch it that way instead of trying to edit the footage.

GoPro also includes cables to attach the camera to your television which is nice.  They include component video cables as well as standard video cables.  This is a nice feature to be able to view your footage on a TV as a computer isn’t always accessible.

Unlike VHoldR, GoPro doesn’t offer you free video hosting or software, so you’ll be on your own to get editing software and online storage to share your videos with your friends. Video is output in H.264 compression, saved as MP4 (.mp4) file.

The GoPro comes with a ton of accessories to capture video in a lot of creative ways.  PointOfViewCameras also sells a bunch of aftermarket attachments that can open up the possibilities for even more shooting angles.  We really like the tripod mount paired with the ultra clamp. This setup can be used to create some really nice creative on board angles on the bike (check out the videos in our 951 / Morewood review for examples).

Chesty harness (click to enlarge)

Perhaps one of the “must have” mounts if you purchase a GoPro is the Chesty harness.  At $39.99, It lets you capture a pretty cool angle on the bike.  Beware though, if you want to get it angled up enough to see the trail ahead we’d suggest mounting the camera upside down, or using the three-way adjuster that is included to get the camera angle just right.  You can see below a small video sample of the chesty camera when we were trying it out.  The camera could’ve been snugged up a bit more to reduce some of the jitteryness and the lighting conditions were a bit dark but sometimes you may find yourself shooting in these conditions.

The nice thing about the GoPro from a usability standpoint is that you can change any of the modifiable settings of the Hero HD through the on board menu system. This lets you tweak your settings in the field easily to suit your tastes and needs.

Possible Improvements

  • Louder beep to signify video recording starting / stopping.  If you’ve ever watched a GoPro video, a good percentage of the time you’ll see someones face in the video camera before the filming starts since they are trying to confirm if the camera is indeed recording.  Having a louder beep would help here.
  • Implement flip video option.  If you mount your camera upside down, there wasn’t any option to have the video flip automatically.  We had to do it in our video editing software.  If you’re wondering why we’d want this option, it’s because getting the right angle out of the camera can sometimes require flipping it upside down. Even though the manual says you can download a firmware update to fix this, there was no such update when we checked.  [Firmware Update for GoPro Hero HD now allows for this functionality]
  • Improve the tightening knobs – The GoPro attachments are easy to use for the most part but getting enough torque on the mount system is harder than it should be.  There is no mechanism in the system to help lock the camera together.  It’s basically plastic on plastic when you tighten the camera angles, so getting good torque on the camera so it won’t move could be improved.  A screw driver can be used to help snug it up from the backside of the plastic knobs.
  • Exposure control – the GoPro doesn’t have options to allow the user to change the exposure control.  This would be a nice feature to include.  It does include a metering option in the menu system, however that essentially lets you set the way the camera focuses.
  • Display minutes left in a given recording mode.  Sometimes you may find yourself shooting and the camera will become full.  While having extra cards is nice, it’d be a nice feature to be able to know how full (or when to change memory cards) before they fill up.

Future Expansion with the GoPro

External video display – The GoPro is rumored to have a external attachment that will connect to the back of the Hero HD that will let you view your video.  This would be a major plus when it comes out.  The downside of this is the camera will become thicker and a bigger case would have to be used to house the bigger unit.

Additional battery – The GoPro is rumored to have a external attachment that will connect to the back of the Hero HD that will let you attach another battery to the unit for longer recording.  This would be a nice feature for those looking to extend the life of their GoPro for long recording days.

Final thoughts

GoPro Hero HD (click to enlarge)

GoPro Hero HD (click to enlarge)

The GoPro Hero HD is a great little helmet camera that can help you capture your riding experiences.  It’s small and easy to use which facilitates useage instead of trying it out a few times then getting aggravated by the setup and not using it often.  Your riding buddies will love you and will bug you endlessly to send them the footage you shot of your rides.

PointOfViewCameras.com has a good stock on all things GoPro and more.  If you’ve got any helmet camera questions, they’re more than happy to assist!

We’ve teamed up with www.pointofviewcameras.com to give you guys a pretty sweet discount!

Just use the coupon code sicklines20 for a $20 discount when you checkout!

[GoPro Hero HD Gallery] [GoPro Website]

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