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GoPro Motorsports Hero HD Wide Lens Motorcycle Camera review: GoPro Motorsports Hero HD Wide Lens Motorcycle Camera

GoPro Motorsports Hero HD Wide Lens Motorcycle Camera

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Antuan Goodwin
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Antuan Goodwin

Reviews Editor / Cars

Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and performance to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.

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5 min read

The GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide is a vehicle-mounted camera system that allows enthusiasts to quickly record video and take still photographs of a vehicle in motion. The system consists of a camera, a waterproof and shockproof housing, and an assortment of mounting hardware, including a large suction cup. The GoPro Hero immediately won us over with its simplicity and value. However, once the shine had worn off, we had to acknowledge the Hero's thirst for batteries.

OVR
6.0

GoPro Motorsports Hero HD Wide Lens Motorcycle Camera

The Good

The GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide records up to 56 minutes of video or 1,940 5-megapixel photos at the touch of a button. The waterproof/shockproof housing allows for external vehicle mounting and recording in wet conditions. The camera system is a great value for the money.

The Bad

The GoPro Hero will drain a set of AAA batteries in about an hour, depending on usage. The tiny display features icons that are difficult to interpret without the instruction manual. Low-light performance is abysmal.

The Bottom Line

Small and easy to place nearly anywhere on a vehicle, the GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide is an extremely cost-effective way to document your high-speed hijinks; just make sure to buy your batteries in bulk.

Design
The core of the GoPro system is the simple and tiny GoPro Hero Wide digital camera. The front of the unit features a thumbnail-size display, the power/mode select button, the wide angle lens, and a red recording light. On top is the shutter button. The back is home to the optical viewfinder and battery door. With only an hour of recording time using two AAA lithium batteries, you'd better stock up on batteries or pick up a set of rechargables. The instructions advised against using alkaline batteries because of the harsh temperatures and vibrations to which the unit may be exposed. On either side of the device are the proprietary port for downloading photos and the SD card slot for your flash media.

What sets the GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide apart from other basic digital camera systems is the water-resistant and shockproof housing and extensive mounting system the camera ships with. The housing is made of clear plastic with a hinged back panel for removal of the camera and a removable lens cover for in-vehicle usage. The housing also features two external sealed buttons for controlling the device while enclosed. The system has a large suction cup mount that locks into place with a lever and a variety of articulating arms, joints, and adhesive mounting points, for more permanent attachment.

With the addition of other accessories from GoPro, the Hero can also be helmet mounted, strapped to the wrist, and attached to just about anything.

Features
The GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide is powered on by holding the power/mode select button. Next, a shooting mode is chosen by repeatedly pressing the mode select button. In video mode, the GoPro Hero is able to record up to an hour of video with sound at 512x384 pixels on a 2GB SD card. The card, of course, is not included.

The camera also features still photography modes. Interval mode captures about 1,940 5-megapixel still photos at intervals of 2 or 5 seconds on a 2GB SD card. There are also single-shot and timer-shot modes.

Finally, in the GoPro Hero's settings menu, users can adjust video playback mode (PAL or NTSC), auto-shutoff timers, and even set the Hero to rotate all captured images 180 degrees for those times when the unit is mounted upside-down.

The unit ships with an output cable that includes a proprietary connection on one end and a full-size USB port and RCA AV connection on the other. The device can be connected to a computer for transferring files or to a television for viewing pictures and videos. Finding the right video involves scrolling through all of the media on the card using the two controlling buttons to skip forward and back.

Performance
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.

In sum
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.

OVR
6.0

GoPro Motorsports Hero HD Wide Lens Motorcycle Camera

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 5Performance 6
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