GoPro upgrades sports camera line with Hero3+ models

BASE jumpers, snorkelers, and skate punks rejoice: The new models bring smaller size, better battery life, new video modes, and faster Wi-Fi.

The GoPro Hero3+ Black with and without its housing.

With mobile phones gobbling up much of what used to be the camera market, it's hard to imagine that a new company could find a niche. But that's exactly what GoPro has done.

On Tuesday, it announced its Hero3+ upgrade to its line of compact, durable videocameras that customers attach to cars, surfboards, quadcopters, birds, and bike helmets.

GoPro introduced the Hero3 in 2012, bringing Wi-Fi support that made it easier to use cameras that don't necessarily have an LCD. The Hero3+ adds improvements to performance image quality, GoPro said.

According to the company, the top-end $400 Hero3+ Black model has:

• A camera body that's lighter and 20 percent smaller. That should make it easier to mount and carry, and for seagulls to steal your camera.

• Battery life that's 30 percent longer. That should help with people out in the wilderness or shooting a lot of video.

• Wi-Fi that's four times faster for when playing videos on a mobile phone or transferring them to a computer.

• An automatic low-light mode to change the frame rate when capturing video in dim conditions for better image quality.

• A sharper lens with less distortion.

• A new SuperView video mode for wider-angle shots.

• Better sound quality, including less susceptibility to wind-roar noises.

The GoPro Hero3+ Black inside the housing used to protect it and mount it to a wide variety of objects.
The GoPro Hero3+ Black inside the housing used to protect it and mount it to a wide variety of objects. GoPro

The $300 GoPro Hero3+ Silver also is improved with a faster processor, 15 percent smaller design, a faster processor and Wi-Fi performance, and support for faster 1080p video at 60 frames per second and 720p video at 120FPS.

The GoPro sports camera business, which was attractive enough for to draw a $200 million investment from electronics manufacturer Foxconn, is based on the desire for budding adventurers to record their activities without worrying about delicate electronics that have to be extracted from a backpack or protected from rainwater. Three GoPro videos are uploaded to YouTube per minute on average these days, the company said. GoPro's products now are a fixture for recording TV shows, too.

GoPro's business also involves a wide range of accessories to mount the cameras. The company also announced a new general-purpose camera clamp, a chest harness young children can wear, and a clip system for use on things like belts and baseball helmets.

Also new is the GoPro Studio 2.0 for Windows and OS X. It adds templates into which people can drop video clips to make it easier create a more finished product, including music.