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GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac review: GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac

GoPro's new Wi-Fi BacPac and Remote combo gives users complete control of a connected GoPro camera, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

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 electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
5 min read

The GoPro HD Hero2 is already one of our favorite sports and action camera systems here at Car Tech. It's rugged and waterproof; it's easy to use; and the video it captures looks terrific. However, having to stop and get out of the car to start and stop recordings or draining the camera's battery filming dull stretches of road or traffic can be downright annoying. Wouldn't it be great if there were some way to remotely control the GoPro camera system the way you can with the Contour+ or the Ion Air Pro WiFi?


GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac

The Good

The <b>GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac + Wi-Fi Remote Combo Kit</b> gives a user complete control over a connected GoPro camera. The Wi-Fi BacPac's internal battery helps to conserve the battery life of the main camera. Up to 50 cameras can be controlled with additional BacPac purchases. Upcoming smartphone/tablet apps will further boost functionality.

The Bad

This kit adds two more devices that need recharging between sessions.

The Bottom Line

The GoPro Wi-Fi Combo Kit includes everything you need to upgrade your GoPro camera for fully wireless operation.

Well, now you can with the release of the GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac + Wi-Fi Remote Combo Kit.

Wi-Fi BacPac
The first bit of the Wi-Fi combo kit is the Wi-Fi BacPac. Since its launch, the GoPro HD Hero2 camera has supported add-on modules called BacPacs. Previously, we've seen the LCD BacPac and the Extended Battery BacPac.

Wi-Fi BacPac
The Wi-Fi BacPac stays powered on even when the Hero isn't, thanks to its internal rechargeable battery. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The Wi-Fi BacPac attaches to the rear of the GoPro camera with its proprietary connection, giving the module full-speed access to every function of the HD camera. A tiny LCD on the BacPac displays the status of the wireless connection and the charge level of the BacPac's internal rechargeable battery. Because the BacPac can be used to remotely power the GoPro camera on and off, it needs this internal battery to maintain a connection with the remote even when the camera is powered down. This battery also keeps the BacPac from being a drain on the battery and recording life of the camera.

Remote-control your GoPro camera with the Wi-Fi Combo Kit (pictures)

See all photos

On the right edge of the BacPac, when viewed from the rear of the camera, you'll find a Power/Menu button that can be pressed and held to power the BacPac on and off independently of the camera. Tapping this button brings up a new menu on the GoPro's front LCD that can be used to configure the connections made by the BacPac. The left edge of the module is also home to a Mini-USB port that is used for recharging the internal battery.

The internal battery is a huge convenience for those who want to be able to conserve their camera's battery by remotely powering the main unit down between recording sessions. However, it does add one more thing to the list of bits that you'll have to remember to recharge between uses.

plastic doors
The Wi-Fi Combo Kit includes two deeper doors to replace the GoPro's standard door (top). Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The BacPac module adds a bit of bulk to the GoPro camera and won't fit into the stock waterproof housing, so GoPro includes two replacement rear doors with the kit. One door is completely sealed to retain the case's waterproof rating -- it even includes a waterproof button pass-through so you can still access the BacPac's Power/Menu button. The other door is ventilated for use in dry conditions where you may want slightly better audio recording quality. The ventilated door exposes the USB charging port and the Power/Menu button.

Wi-Fi remote
The Wi-Fi remote is the part of this combo kit that the user actually interacts with. This little black plastic module measures about 2.5 inches wide by 1.4 inches tall by 0.75 inch deep and connects wirelessly to the Wi-Fi BacPac to assume control of the connected GoPro camera.

The face of the unit features two rubber buttons that mirror the functions of the GoPro camera's Shutter and Mode/Power buttons. So once connected to the BacPac, I was able to power the camera on and off, choose between its various shooting modes, head into the camera's menu to adjust the various settings of those modes, and start and stop recording video or capturing still photos. I noticed while digging through the menus that there's a new Bluetooth On/Off option that, when selected, displays a "Coming soon from GoPro" message. This new option may come in handy with the upcoming GoPro App for Smartphones and Tablets, which we'll come back to a bit later in this review.

Wi-Fi remote
The Wi-Fi remote's LCD also mirrors the mode, storage, and battery information present on the GoPro camera. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Next to those rubber buttons is a monochrome LCD that is identical to the one on the front of the GoPro camera and mirrors the data displayed there. So I was able to view the shooting mode, monitor the battery level of the camera, observe the amount of available storage space, and view the menus for changing the aforementioned options.

The Wi-Fi remote's sealed construction makes it waterproof down to 10 feet of submersion. A pair of slots on the back of the device accommodate an included wrist strap, making the device wearable. Users can also dangle the remote from a key-ring-like attachment ring located at one end of the device.

That attachment ring can be removed with a flick of a release switch located on the unit's back and a tug. In its place, a proprietary charging cable can be attached and plugged into any powered USB port to recharge the remote's internal battery. At this point, the GoPro user has three devices to remember to charge between sessions (the BacPac, the remote, and, of course, the camera itself), which verges on ridiculous, but I think the extra functionality is totally worth it.

Wi-Fi remote
The Wi-Fi remote isn't much larger than a wristwatch and mirrors the shutter and select buttons of the GoPro camera. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

In sum
The Wi-Fi combo kit retails for $99.99 and includes everything that you need to fully convert one GoPro HD Hero or HD Hero2 camera for fully wireless operation. That's not a bad price to pay to boost the functionality of one of the best sports cameras on the market and it opens up a world of creatively mounting the rugged HD camera in previously inconvenient places. (Imagine stuffing one of these cameras in your car's wheel well to watch the suspension components work under load!) However, GoPro still has a few extra tricks up its sleeve for the Wi-Fi BacPac and remote.

Additional Wi-Fi BacPacs can be purchased at $59.99 a pop, enabling a single Wi-Fi remote to control up to 50 GoPro cameras at a time (as long as they all remain in its approximately 600-foot maximum range). Eventually, GoPro says it will even release a GoPro App for Smartphones and Tablets that will allow your mobile device to do everything that that Wi-Fi remote can do and then some -- including adding the option to preview and play back media saved on one or more GoPro cameras and to live-stream video to the Web using a smartphone's data connection. We'll update this review to reflect those changes when the app is released.