Why I won’t be getting a GoPro Hero4 (and what I will be buying).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, over the past few days you’ve probably heard that GoPro is set to launch their all-new Hero4 series of wearable action cameras. GoPro’s soon-to-arrive (release date is October 5th) flagship camera, the Hero4 Black, can shoot at an impressive Ultra-HD (4k) resolution at 30 FPS, and will set you back $500.
When it comes to technology I’m all for pushing the envelope, but this camera is a waste of money for 99.9% of the people reading this. How many of you have Ultra-HD televisions, or even computer monitors capable of Ultra-HD? I’m guessing very few hands just went up. The current cost of Ultra-HD displays range from “very high” to “astronomical”, and there isn’t even much 4k content available right now. And, unless you’ve got an absolutely massive display, can your eyes really see the difference between 1080p and 4k video? Geoffrey Morrison over at CNET doesn’t think so.
Putting aside that argument, let’s talk practicality. GoPro’s already anemic 1180 mAh battery (found in the Hero3 line) has been reduced to 1160 mAh for the Hero4. Pretty much everyone I know with a Hero3 complains about its short battery life, and it sounds like things are not going to be improving any time soon. I don’t have any concrete data to go on, but I think its reasonable to assume that shooting 4k (which is 4 times the resolution of 1080p) at 30 FPS is going to draw more power than the Hero3 Black’s maximum resolution of 4k @ 15 FPS. I’ll be surprised if you can shoot for much more than an hour at that resolution before the battery dies.
The Hero4 Black’s maximum storage card size is 64 GB, and so you’re probably only looking at 1.5 hours of compressed 4k footage @ 30 FPS before that card is full.
One welcome addition to the Hero4 is an all-new touch display at the rear of the camera, but for some reason GoPro only put that on the Silver version ($400) of the camera and left it off their flagship Black model. Weird.
I own the original GoPro, and I’ve never been particularly enamored with it. I don’t like the boxy shape, the menu system is extremely cumbersome, it’s easy to accidentally have it in the wrong mode, it’s hard to use with gloves on and I’ve had countless mounts snap off and break just from normal road and trail vibration (GoPro was no help here, either). Fogging has also been a major issue.
I know a few people with Hero3s, and they have all had problems with buggy software and faulty hardware. Many awesome shots have been missed due to these issues, just do a search.
I’m in the market for a new sports camera (and I have a birthday coming up!), but I will not be purchasing the Hero4. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the Garmin Virb. Garmin’s Virb is available in two versions: the Virb ($187) and the Virb Elite ($270).
Both Virb models have the same shooting capabilities: 1080p@30 FPS, 960p@30/48 FPS, 720p@30/60 FPS, 848×480@120 FPS and they can capture still images at 16MP, 12MP and 8MP (while shooting video). The Virb cameras have large 2,000 mAh batteries, which should be good for 3-3.5 hours of shooting at 1080p/30 FPS.
So what does the Virb Elite add over the base Virb? ANT+ connectivity, GPS, an accelerometer and an altimeter. These are great features, but my Garmin Edge 810 already has all of them (aside from the accelerometer, which I don’t need). The cool thing is that Garmin’s free editing software will allow me to overlay my 810 data files onto the recorded video, and so I’ll have all my ANT+, GPS and altimeter data without needing to purchase the more expensive Elite.
And that brings me to what I love most about the Virb: I can overlay all of that data onto my video, which adds some great context for the viewer. So when people are watching my videos they can see in real time my speed, my heart rate, my cadence, the amount of power I’m putting out, the grade of the road or trail I’m riding and even a GPS map overlay.
The Virb also has excellent night shooting capabilities, a time lapse mode and many other features. Obviously this is not a review, but just some of the features that I find very cool.
Here’s a video review of the Virb, and it also has some shots showcasing some of the video overlay features that I’m so excited about.
Will any of you be purchasing the Hero4? If so, why?