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GoPro Hero+ LCD review: A view of the action for less money

At $100 less than the Hero4 Silver -- GoPro's other touchscreen camera -- you're definitely saving some coin here, but its streamlined entry-level feature set and design make it less of a bargain.

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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GoPro considers the Hero+ LCD an entry-level camera and, looking at its specs and capabilities, it has stripped of much of what you'd find on the higher-end Hero4 Silver and Black models.

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7.5

GoPro Hero+ LCD

The Good

The GoPro Hero+ LCD puts a live-view touchscreen on the back of a camera that's capable of very good 1080p video capture at 60 frames per second. Built-in wireless lets you use your phone or tablet to remotely control the camera.

The Bad

The camera is permanently in its polycarbonate housing; the battery is nonremovable; limited shooting options compared with others in its price range and a significant drop in features and performance from the $400 Hero4 Silver.

The Bottom Line

The GoPro Hero+ LCD isn't exactly a bargain for its entry-level specs, but if you appreciate a streamlined feature set and its built-in touchscreen, it's worth the extra money over the very basic Hero.

The Hero+ LCD's price, on the other hand, does not say "entry level." At $300 in the US and £250 and AU$430 in the UK and Australia, respectively, this is a somewhat pricey camera for the category given what it can do. The $130 (£100, AU$169) Hero model is truly entry level in price and features. That's a considerable price gap between it and the Hero+ LCD.

Action cams with live-view screens, let alone a touch-enabled one, are a rarity, though, and that definitely gives this camera an edge. It is the key feature, but not the only feature, separating the Hero from the Hero+ LCD, too.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

For one, you get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that can be used to connect to GoPro's Smart Remote (not included), which basically replicates the camera's controls so you can remotely change settings and shooting modes and start and stop recordings and take pictures.

The wireless is also used to connect to an iOS, Android or Windows mobile device to use GoPro's app to control the camera and change settings as well as remotely preview and review your shots and transfer them to your device for sharing.

Beyond that, the Hero+ has a higher-resolution sensor -- 8 megapixels as opposed to 5 -- and instead of just a single 0.5-second time-lapse interval setting you get seven. You'll also get a loop record feature, so you can more easily use this as a dash cam and it supports GoPro's HiLight Tagging, which lets you quickly mark a section of your video for easier editing later on.

Video and photo quality is noticeably better than the Hero, too, and is on par with GoPro's $400 tiny waterproof cube, the Hero4 Session. For that $400 you can also get the Hero4 Silver, which is better in every way. And, of course, GoPro isn't alone in the category.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Design and features

It does have that screen, though, which again isn't something you'll find from most of the competition. If that's a must-have feature for you and you just need good-quality video for sharing online, your search is over.

That is, as long as you're willing to put up with the rest of the Hero+ LCD's design. Like the Hero, this camera is permanently in its rugged housing. Some might find this to be a plus since it means the camera can't fall out and is always protected. However, since you can't pull the camera out, if you damage the housing you're not easily swapping it for a new one. While it can certainly handle a lot of abuse, if you manage to scratch the lens glass, you're stuck.

It also means there's no removable battery, so if you run out of power in the middle of your shoot, you're not popping in a fresh battery. You can connect to an external battery pack to keep recording or use it while plugged in via its Micro-USB port. Otherwise you're waiting to recharge, which takes a couple hours. There may eventually be add-on battery packs, such as the Limefuel Epic L40GH available for the Hero, but it would mean blocking the screen.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Next to the screen are the microSDHC card slot supporting cards up to 64GB and a Micro-USB port. So what's missing? The Hero lacks a Micro-HDMI port letting you playback directly from the camera to a display or HDTV. Not a huge loss, but still it's a loss.

With its standard solid plastic backdoor, the housing is waterproof to 131 feet (40 meters). There is also a waterproof touch backdoor that's good down to 10 feet (3 meters) as well as a skeleton door that lets more sound reach the built-in mic. External mics, by the way, are not supported on this model.

Along with the backdoors you'll get a Micro-USB cable for charging and transfers; two adhesive mounts, one flat and one curved; a quick-release buckle to use with the mounts and a rubber-locking plug to keep the quick-release buckle from accidentally releasing from a hard impact.

GoPro also has free editing software, GoPro Studio, that's pretty good if not altogether straightforward. And, you know, it's free.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Shooting options are better than the Hero, but just barely. Video resolutions include 1080p at 60 frames per second and 720p at 60fps. There's also a 720p at 60fps with GoPro's SuperView feature, which basically takes 4:3 video and digitally stretches it at the sides so you get a taller 16:9 video. To help you out when you lose daylight, GoPro's Auto Low Light feature can be turned on, dropping the frame rate so your video isn't too dark when shooting in dim light.

You can capture 8-megapixel stills, too, one at time, in bursts of 10 at 5fps and as time-lapse sequences snapping continuously at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 seconds depending on how you set it.

To change modes and settings you can use the the buttons and the little monochrome screen in front, the touchscreen in back or you can use the built-in wireless to connect to a GoPro Smart Remote or a tablet or phone.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The touchscreen is no doubt the easiest route and GoPro simplified navigation compared with the Hero4 Silver. Instead of swiping and tapping your way through menus, you just tap on the right side of the screen to bring up the mode menu, while the left side opens a context-sensitive menu related to what mode you're in. One other nice addition: You can trim out 5-, 15- or 30-second clips or grab a still from a video on camera.

Of course, the more you use the touchscreen or wireless, the less battery life you'll have for recording. Even with both of those off you're looking at a maximum of 2 hours of continuous recording at 1080p at 60fps or up to 2 hours and 30 minutes set to 720p at 60fps in SuperView mode.

The camera's QuikCapture feature, which allows you to turn on the camera and start recording with a press of the record button, helps maximize battery life. However, if you're not careful about how you store the camera, you can easily turn the camera on accidentally and drain your battery.

Video quality

On its own, the video from the Hero+ LCD is very good and stands up to other models priced around $300 such as the Drift Ghost-S and Replay XD Prime X, though only the former has a live-view screen. Sony's Action Cam Mini with its Live-View Remote is another option and is better in image quality and features, though it's not as easy to use.

For casual viewing on a smartphone or tablet and posting to YouTube, you likely won't be disappointed with what you get from the Hero+ LCD. As with most cameras in this category, when viewed at larger sizes you'll see compression and motion artifacts and details are pretty soft and mushy. These things only get more pronounced when shooting in low light.

If you want to view your videos at larger sizes like on an HDTV, you'll want to spend the extra money for the Hero4 Silver. You'll get fewer artifacts, sharper fine details, better color performance and greater dynamic range.

Conclusion

It's pricey for its shooting options and performance, but the GoPro Hero+ LCD is also one of the few action cameras available with a built-in live-view screen. That's a feature that's tough to beat, especially if you're looking to simplify your shooting experience.

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7.5

GoPro Hero+ LCD

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8Image quality 7