February 2, 2013 | Daryle W. Hier
The GoPro HD Hero3 Black Edition is finally here. Does it live up to the hype of being the best adventure camera ever created?
First, the basics. The Hero3 comes in three versions: White, Silver and Black. The White (review here) is the basic model and runs about $200. The Silver (review here) is the midrange model, available for approximately $300. Finally, the Black edition is the new top-of-the-line model, which sells for roughly $400. The first two are prior GoPro models with few improvements. The Black Edition is the latest and greatest in performance cameras.
At 2.3 x 1.6 x .8 inches, the Hero3 is smaller than the Hero2. It produces wide-angle video with a high-resolution 12-megapixel sensor. It has WiFi that is supposed to work up to 600 feet. A cool feature is an app that turns your smartphone into a remote control for the Hero3.
The Hero3's rugged construction allows you to skydive with it at the highest elevations or deep-sea dive in murky waters. It was tested in brutal conditions by CNET at the CES show in Las Vegas. Check out the video here, in which the GoPro survived a dunking in liquid nitrogen. (If you really want to get into the inner workings of the Hero3, iFixit.com did a teardown.)
Criticisms range from short battery life to hard-to-press keys, plus a backplate that isn't easy to pop open. Also, some critics say that the WiFi won't reach anywhere near 600 feet. The software that comes with the camera is very basic and doesn't allow for advanced editing.
Action-camcorder competition includes Drift, ION and Sony, but none of these rivals offer the same imaging or resolution advantages of the Hero3.
If you missed them, there are many ways you can use the GoPro, and people seem to be coming up with new ideas all the time. The Trombone player started it, and now you can check Mashable for more silly or crazy ways to use this incredible little device.
The camera also has filters you can use to improve video quality in poor-visibility conditions like underwater. These cube filters help to restore natural hues while reducing blur distortion. Check out sites like EelVision.com for more information. Overall, the GoPro HD Hero3 Black is a cut above any other adventure camera available to consumers. Even professionals are getting into the mix. Last week, ESPN announced that it will team up with GoPro for new X Games angles and content.
Photos: GoPro, Flickr