In Depth

GoPro Hero4 review: first test videos emerge

Reviewers praise GoPro’s three new action cameras – the Hero4 Black, Hero4 Silver and entry-level Hero – set for release next week

Since action camera-maker GoPro announced a new line of durable Hero4 devices two days ago, tech reviewers have been putting the new cameras though their paces to see if they live up to their promise.

The three new cameras, launched simultaneously, have a number of features that set themselves apart from their predecessors, their rivals and one another, but plenty that will be familiar to GoPro loyalists. The GoPro Hero4 Black Edition, Hero4 Silver Edition, and regular Hero model are all waterproof, all share a similar body shape and all work with microSD cards.

Why, then, should you consider shelling out for the £370 flagship rather than the humble £100 entry-level model?

GoPro Hero4 Black Edition - £370

In a nutshell, each model offers different image resolution, frame rate and camera features. 

The Hero4 Black, GoPro's top-of-the-range model, is the only camera in the new line-up able to shoot in ultra-high resolution 4K. Its predecessor also offered 4K video, but only at 15 frames per second, while the new model works at the standard frame rate of 30fps. 

"In other words," says Pocket Lint, "if you want the most ultra, highest-quality footage of your stunts - you should go with the GoPro HD Hero4 Black Edition". 

The Hero4 Black also has built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth for connecting the camera to a phone or a GoPro remote to review your images. Wi-fi is a "welcome new feature", Tech Radar says, which will "give the camera great options for connecting to mobile devices for taking remote control and viewing both movies and stills". 

GoPro also claims that it has also improved the sound quality on the camera, so it should offer better audio, providing it's not wrapped in a waterproof case, Wired notes, "in which case it's still limited to clicks and rumbles".

Gizmodo's Brent Rose put the new flagship device through its paces, with video tests showing the image quality of the new camera and how it looks in slow motion. According to Rose, the Hero4 Black Edition "allows you to shoot in full HD and then slow it way the hell down and it will still look buttery smooth".

The Wall Street Journal did the opposite in its road test, filming footage of a ride across the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco and speeding it up.

Pocket Lint conducted its test in London, with street trials rider Danny MacAskill performing impressive stunts around Shoreditch.

GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition - £290

The Silver offers a maximum of 1080p HD resolution – a considerable step down, but more than enough for the average action-photography enthusiast. And that resolution is available at up to 60fps, which means you can use it for slow-motion sequences.

One of the Silver's main recommending features, however, is its touchscreen display, which Wired says "makes framing and reviewing shots much easier". In the past, to watch video captured with a GoPro you had to connect your camera to a detachable display, such as the company's proprietary LCD Touch BacPac, or pair it with a mobile phone. The Silver edition has an advantage over all other models including the Black because its screen is built in. 

GoPro Hero - £100

Finally, there’s the GoPro Hero. This more basic model shoots 1080p HD video at 30fps or 720p at 60fps. Like all the other models it can also capture still images, but is limited to five-megapixel photographs while its more expensive siblings will take 12 megapixel images.

Rivals

GoPro doesn't make the only small action-camera on the market, the Wall Street Journal notes. Sony and Garmin both offer models of their own that are only slightly larger than a GoPro, and smartphones maker HTC has hinted that it may release a waterproof camera of its own in future. Still, what sets the GoPro apart is their "solid imaging technology in a tiny package that doesn't feel precious," the Wall Street Journal concludes. 

A number of reviewers criticise the battery life of the new devices, but many, including Trusted Reviews, applaud the company for releasing a "wallet-friendly" option at the same time as its new flagship models.

All three new cameras go on sale on 5 October.

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