GoPro has a new lineup of Hero cameras, including the next-gen Hero4 with fancy 4K video features and touchscreen back displays, but the introduction of a new entry-level Hero today could be what brings the action camera category to the next level. The Hero is similar to the “White” tier of devices GoPro has sold until now, but it’s especially cut-rate at just $130, and packs features the competition just can’t match, like integration into a waterproof housing and automatic low-light shooting mode optimizations.
The basic Hero definitely gives up some ground to drop that extra $60 vs. the White: GoPro has removed its Wi-Fi connection capabilities, meaning you’ll have to control it from the camera itself, and use the included USB cable to connect it to your computer. But the concession might be less onerous than you might imagine, especially if you’ve never used a GoPro before – I actually rarely find myself using the Wi-Fi features for my prosumer applications of the gadget, which tend to involve muddy/wet/snowy situations where I don’t have my phone handy anyway.
GoPro’s price aggressiveness here should stave off competition from new entrants like Polaroid, which has debuted its own Cube action camera at $99. The Cube also lacks Wi-Fi, but it isn’t waterproof out of the box and it lacks the advantages of GoPro’s ProTune software features. Early buzz has pegged Polaroid’s version as a better choice for undemanding consumers, but with just a $30 gap instead of a $100 one, GoPro has now offered a version of its device, with its attendant reputation, that should fall within easy reach of those looking around at the Polaroid and other options. Plus, GoPro’s comprehensive ecosystem of accessories and mounts gives the Hero a huge advantage.
At $129, in fact, you start to see the possibilities of using veritable fleets of GoPros to capture entirely new perspectives on your excursions. A set of three of these might produce much more interesting results than a single GoPro Hero4 Black, for example, especially if your end goal is YouTube, not an iMax theater.
The top-end Hero4 line and its 4K video features are going to excite the imaginations of filmmakers, documentarians and extreme athletes, but the GoPro Hero has the makings of a true breakout device for the category, which could help the company become a fixture in far more households than ever before.