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January 25, 2014

GoPro Hero 3+ Review

GoPro has been known for making one of the most popular outdoor cameras for a long time — they’re small and light-weight, can withstand extreme conditions, has great wide-angle lens and has the widest available accessories and add-ons. Check out our full review of the GoPro Hero 3+ below.

We had the Hero 3 for over a year now but recently, the new Hero 3+ was introduced to offer better HD video support in a smaller and lighter footprint.

What’s inside the box?

The Go Pro Hero 3+ comes in three editions — the silver and black edition, with the latter being the more capable and comes with more accessories in the box.

GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition:
131 feet or 40m Waterproof Housing
WiFi Remote
Higher Capacity Li-ion Battery
Quick Release Buckle
Vertical Quick Release Buckle
1 Curved + 1 Flat Adhesive Mount
3-Way Pivot Arm
USB Charging Cable

Along the way, we’ve also purchased several additional accessories and mounts — surfboard mount, handle bar mount, tripod mount, head strap, chest harness, suction cup, GoPole, flotation attachment and a few other mounts.

Design and Construction.

The Hero 3+ is the same small boxy device that’s almost the size of a match box. This small form factor make the Hero a good candidate as an attachment camera to almost any imaginable structure or locomotive machine — in a mountain bike, car, surf board, kite, balloon, drone, etc.

It also has a very wide selection of straps and harness so you can actually wear the GoPro — helmet strap, chest harness, wrist strap, suction cups, and tripod adaptor.

The camera itself look fragile and the lens exposed so it comes with a hard protective clear case that’s scratchproof, shockproof and waterproof. We’ve tried using the Hero 3+ under water and the case looks like it could hold up to several meters deep (GoPro claims up to 40 meters).

Compared to the previous Hero3 camera, the Hero3+ is a bit smaller and lighter but has very little changes in the look and design between the two of them.

Interface and Connectivity.

The device has a small LED monitor at the front which shows the menu and settings. It is controlled by a couple of buttons at the front and top corners, both for selecting and confirming the choices in the settings.

There’s also another smaller button on the right side to activate WiFi connectivity, just in case you want to pair it with the accompanying remote control or an iOS/Android device running the GoPro app.

With the mini-USB port and micro-HDMI ports, you can plug the camera to an external monitor or feed while powering it continuously. We’ve seen the GoPro being used as monitor camera in professional games like DoTa, Starcraft and League of Legends during international tournaments — mainly to shoot the keyboard and mouse to see how fast the gamers are.

The GoPro has a built-in WiFi hotspot or access point that can connect to an Android or iOS device. With the GoPro app installed, the Hero 3+ can be remote controlled and set to various modes. The app also shows a video preview of what the camera is focusing on (although the preview turns off once you start recording).

If you have the Black Edition, it comes with a WiFi remote that can simultaneously control up to 50 GoPro cameras and up to a distance of 180 meters.

Camera Quality and Capabilities.

The camera has fish-eye effect so expect all the stills and videos to have that distorted, fishbowl effect.

The following frame rates and resolution are supported by the Hero 3+:

* 1440p @ 48 fps
* 1080p @ 30fps, 60fps
* 720p @ 60fps, 120fps
* 12MP Ultra Wide @ 4000 x 3000
* 7MP Ultra Wide Medium @ 3000 x 2250
* 5MP Medium @ 2560 x 1920
* Time Lapse 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 second intervals
* Burst Mode @ 30 photos per second

Here’s the features of the optics:
* Fixed f/2.8 aperture
* 6-element aspherical glass lens
* Ultra wide angle field of view

Here are some sample videos taken with the Hero3+ (make sure to tick the 1080p option before playing):

We used a chest harness here before we went snorkeling so this footage was just a foot or two underwater and took us about 30 minutes in all.

With this one, we used the same chest harness while riding a jetski. You will notice the camera will adjust the exposure when we’re facing the sunset.

Battery Life.

GoPro has already improved the battery life of the Hero 3+ to last 30% longer compared to the Hero 3 Black Edition. The standard battery is rated at 1180mAH, 3.7V, 4366mWh.

Here are the estimated battery life of the Hero 3+ with WiFi off:

* 4K @ 15fps – 2:00 hours
* 2.7K @ 30fps – 1:40 hours
* 1440 @ 48fps – 1:50 hours
* 1080p @ 60fps – 1:30 hours
* 1080p @ 30fps – 2:00 hours
* 720p @ 120fps – 1:55 hours

It loses between 5 to 10 minutes of battery life when you use the wireless remote. When used with the GoPro App, the time is further reduced by around 30%.

During our use, we’d normally switch between having WiFi turned off and using the GoPro App when recording videos. The battery does take a lot of toll when used with the app and we’d normally take a little over an hour of footage with it.

More often than not, we’d resort to having a back-up battery around just in case we need it.

Conclusion.

If you’re an outdoors kind of person, then the GoPro Hero 3+ is a must as a part your arsenal. It’s almost as essential as your Swiss army knife. Whether it’s surfing, sky diving, bungee jumping, biking and racing, the GoPro has got you covered. You can bring it to places and occasions you’d normally think your usual cameras would not survive.

The GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition retails for $399 in the US but local retail price goes up to a little over Php18,000 in dealer stores. For more creative executions, the more GoPro cameras you have, the better.

What we liked about it:
* Great picture quality
* All-terrain, all-weather capability
* Wide variety of accessories and add-ons
* iOS and Android app support

What we did not like:
* Decent battery life
* Mono sound

Go Pro Hero 3+ on a Jet Ski
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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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