GoPro cameras have been our go-to action cams since we were knee-high to a snowboard, so we're pretty stoked about the arrival of the Hero3+ Black Edition.
This radical little box of tricks promises a better lens, longer battery life and faster wireless operation than the previous Hero3, while still packing such epic treats as 4K video and 30fps stills.
There's also a cheaper Silver Edition (£280), which misses out on the 4K and has a slightly smaller sensor, but it's the Black Edition that we're totally amped about*.
*We've overdone the extreme sports lingo, haven't we? We'll stop now.
Ready for action
The supplied waterproof case (or optional £40 ‘Frame’ mount) is a requirement for almost any use of the GoPro, as the matchbox-sized main unit has no ruggedisation or mount fixings. But in its favour, the tiny, boxy form works well in confined spaces. The waterproof case has been redesigned for the Hero3+ and is now smaller and lighter than before, and also fits more snugly - all good changes, we feel.
As with all GoPro cams, operating the 3+ can be an awkward process because all feedback comes via the tiny mono LCD screen. Unless you never change any settings and just hit ‘Record’, you’ll want to team it with the supplied remote or smartphone app. Alternatively, you can add an LCD touchscreen - but that's another £80. Another slight annoyance is that once encased, the GoPro’s three buttons are unmarked, making operation a more cryptic affair than your frozen fingers and rain-sodden head will appreciate.
Still, there's better news when it comes to features. There's a remote app which works on iOS, Android and even Windows Phone - you don't see that very often - and a supplied wireless remote if you don't want to risk your phone on the slopes/in the surf. There are also loads of shooting options, from 4K to 1080p to slow-mo to time-lapse, plus 12MP stills at a blistering 30fps.
Yes, the GoPro will do 4K footage, but at 15fps and through these optics, there’s little point.
There's better news when it comes to full HD footage though. While not quite DSLR or high-end camcorder quality, it captures bags of detail and copes better with shadows and highlights than rivals such as the Garmin VIRB Elite. And, if you're interested in slow-mo, the fact that the GoPro can shoot 120fps at 720p and even 240fps at WVGA quality is a massive bonus.
But for all the talk of video quality and fancy features, much of GoPro’s success is down to the fact that you can stick them on to almost anything. The 3+ remains the king when it comes to mounts, with options to attach it to virtually anything. Well, there's no pig mount yet, but it can be only a matter of time.
GoPro's ‘industry standard’ status has been well earned, and the Hero3+ Black Edition is a cracking good camera.
However, in 2014 a £350+ camera with no screen and a three-button interface doesn’t quite stack up. We’d like to see a major redesign for GoPro’s next flagship, taking some cues from new rivals such as the Garmin VIRB Elite.
That said, the GoPro's tiny form factor, 4K mode, extra mounts, and advanced slow-mo options are all advantages, and that's why it's still a fixture in our Top 10 camcorders list.
And if £360 is too much for you, there's also the Hero3+ Silver Edition, yours for about £240 if you shop around.