We selected the video mode and took the Hero for a spin attached to the bumper of the 2009 Honda Civic Si and went for a spirited drive. Try as we might, we were unable to shake the GoPro Hero loose as we enthusiastically tossed the Civic around the corners.
The GoPro Hero's diminutive size (and consequently, weight) means that it can be securely mounted in a wide variety of places. However, the tiny chassis also means there's no place for a large screen, so the Hero makes due with a miniscule monochromatic display. This simple display features tiny--often cryptic--icons that can be unreadable in low light and difficult to understand without consulting the instruction manual. After a few days of use, the simple interface becomes almost second nature, but our first outing was riddled with mistakes. For example, after a day of shooting test videos for this review, we selected an icon that we assumed meant multiple still photos, but in fact was the delete all images icon. At the touch of a button, we'd accidentally deleted a whole day's work.
After reshooting, we found that video shot on a clear and bright day was smooth and clean, if a bit low-res. In low light, video quality suffered, so you're not going to want use the GoPro Hero for night drives.
Additionally, the Hero has only a single microphone built-in, so there is no stereo sound. From inside its sealed case, the Hero only picks up the loudest of noises, and then only barely. If you want engine sound, you'll want to mount the device close to the engine bay or exhaust. For picking up sound when mounted in the cabin, the plastic dome covering the lens can be removed to let in more audio.
Still photo quality is also very good when there's lots of light present. Photos tended to have a slight graininess to them, but the overall quality is reasonable for a sub-$200 setup. The extreme wide-angle gives a fish-eye effect to all photos, which can make for some interesting shots.
Despite our early stumbles with the tiny screen, the GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide is remarkably easy to use because of its simple nature. Video quality is good, but not great, as is still photography.
Starting at an MSRP of about $139 for the bare-bones system, the GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide tops out at, and as-tested, $199 with suction-cup vehicle mount. At that price, you could easily find a more versatile digital camera that takes better pictures, but when you add in the cost of a shockproof/waterproof housing and a vehicle mount, the GoPro system is an absolute steal. Additional mounts and accessories can also be purchased to expand the unit's usefulness. You'll definitely want to pick up a 2GB SD card and a set or two of rechargeable AAA batteries, while you're at it.