With their “action” enabled camera lines GoPro has quickly established their name as THE camera for sporting enthusiasts, daredevils and athletes. The HERO was GoPro’s first point of view (POV) camera which worked great with well lit conditions but did suffer under less optimal shooting conditions. The HD HERO2 fixes that issue and does a whole lot more.

The HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition is GoPro’s most advanced camera to date. It comes bundled with various mounting accessories allowing the camera to capture outdoor sports on land, sea or air. The camera posts some impressive specs as it can record at 170º wide-angle1080p video and shoot up to 11 megapixel pictures. It can also shoot medium 127º or narrow 90º FOV (Field of View) in 1080p.

Using the included waterproof housing it is waterproof up to a depth of 197 feet. In addition the HD HERO2 can shoot ten 11MP photos per second burst, record upside down and has a stereo external microphone input (3.5mm). While I am not an extreme adventurer I did get a chance to field test the camera with my kids over the past several weekends.

The GoPro HD HERO2 comes packaged in a showcase style plastic box, which prominently displays the camera on the upper half through a clear plastic window. GoPro created a similar unboxing experience to Apple’s with each section of the package opening in an elegant puzzle like configuration. Each section contains another component of the HD HERO2 Outdoor Edition.

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The lower half of the packaging is covered by a black cardboard that lists included contents, enhanced features, camera specs, along with video, photo and sound capabilities. Atop this section rests the camera attached to a black plastic base.

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The outer cardboard sleeve is held in place by two circular adhesive disks; once removed another cardboard box with images of the GoPro logo, the website address for GoPro and a pictogram of how to remove the camera off the attached plastic are revealed.

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Attaching the plastic section to the cardboard box is a large wraparound piece of tape that is easily removed via the marked edge. Once this tape is off, the plastic cover easily lifts off with the camera still attached to the lower half of the package.

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To remove the HD HERO2 off this black plastic simply press the two clips at the base of the mount and slide the camera forward. This mechanism is the same one used for attaching the housing to the various available mounts.

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In the lower cardboard box we find the rest of the package contents which includes a waterproof housing, HD skeleton backdoor, rechargeable li-ion battery, USB cable, vented helmet strap, head strap, two curved surface adhesive mounts, two flat surface adhesive mounts, a three-way pivot arm, instruction booklet, three GoPro sticker decals and assorted mounting hardware. As you can see GoPro provides a lot with the Outdoor Edition of the HD HERO2.

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The camera arrives nestled in the waterproof housing, which is removed by unhooking the latch from the groove on the back door and then pulling it downward.

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The HD HERO2 is a small silver and black camera that looks like a 1960’s James Bond spy camera although slightly bulkier. While the exterior looks to be metallic it has a slight rubber tack which helps keep the camera secure in one’s hands.

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The lens takes up half of the front of the camera with a small square LCD on the opposite side along with the P button (POWER/MODE) and LED recording light. The HERO2 logo is just below the lens. The specs of the lens include 2X sharper professional glass lens, f/2.8 fixed focus, 170º Wide FOV (Including 1080p), 127º Medium FOV (In 1080p), and 90º Narrow FOV.

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On top of the HD HERO2 we find the S button (SHUTTER/SELECT), LED recording light and microphone.

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One side of the HD HERO2 reveals the HDMI port and SD card slot while the other has a 2.5mm composite port, USB port, and 3.5mm external mic input.

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The back of the HD HERO2 is mostly covered by the battery door with a Hero port and LED recording light adjacent to this door.

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Like most cameras you’ll need a SD card for storing your videos and photos. The HD HERO2 supports SDHC up to 32GB (Class 4 or Higher).

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The second most important part of the HD HERO2 setup is the waterproof enclosure, which provides the ability to house the camera on various mounts. It is composed of heavy-duty clear plastic with two spring-loaded button for interacting with the S and P buttons on the camera. A rubber ring surrounds the back door to make a waterproof seal. Be careful not to get any dirt or hair on this rubber washer as it can make a small opening for water to enter the housing.

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GoPro provides two doors for this housing – the waterproof one and a skeleton back door that is non-waterproof and provides better sound quality by allowing outside noise to easily reach the camera’s microphone.

At the base of the plastic housing is an area for the attachment buckle and thumbscrew. This buckle allows the HD HERO2 to be used with the various included mounts or with additional mounts purchased from GoPro.

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To get the user started GoPro includes two curved and two flat surface adhesive mounts along with a vented helmet strap and head strap for mounting the HD HERO2. A three-way pivot arm allows setting up the camera for self-portrait style shooting.


Specifications:

HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition

GoPro cameras are used by more professional athletes, sports filmmakers and core enthusiasts than any other camera in the world. The HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition is the most advanced GoPro camera yet. Wearable and gear mountable, waterproof to 197′ (60m), capable of capturing professional full 170º wide angle 1080p video and 11 megapixel photos at a rate of 10 photos per second, the HD HERO2 is the world’s most versatile camera. Whether your goal is to capture a great day out with friends or you’re gunning for the cover of a magazine, the HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition can help you nail it and look like a HERO.

Included are mounting accessories you’re most likely to use during outdoor sports like biking, skiing, skating, kayaking and so on. Other accessories are available via links on the right hand side of this page.

The HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition is compatible with all GoPro expansion accessories and BacPacs, including the Wi-Fi BacPac and Wi-Fi Remote (coming soon).

What’s Included:

  • 1 11MP HD HERO2 Camera
  • 1 Waterproof Housing (197′ / 60m)
  • 1 HD Skeleton Backdoor
  • 1 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Vented Helmet Strap
  • 1 Head Strap
  • 2 Curved Surface Adhesive Mounts
  • 2 Flat Surface Adhesive Mounts
  • 1 Three-Way Pivot Arm
  • Assorted Mounting Hardware

Note: SD card not included

2X More Powerful in Every Way

  • Professional 11MP Sensor
  • 2x Faster Image Processor
  • 2X Sharper Glass Lens
  • Professional Low Light Performance
  • Full 170º, Medium 127º, Narrow 90º FOV in 1080p
  • 120 fps WVGA, 60 fps 720p, 48 fps 960p, 30 fps 1080p Video
  • Full 170º and Medium 127º FOV Photos
  • 10 11MP Photos Per Second Burst
  • 1 11MP Photo Every 0.5 Sec Timelapse Mode
  • 3.5mm External Stereo Microphone Input
  • Simple Language-based User Interface
  • Wi-Fi BacPac and Wi-Fi Remote Compatible (coming soon)
    • Long Range Remote Control of up to 50 GoPro Cameras
    • Wi-Fi Video/Photo Preview + Playback + Control via GoPro App
    • Live Streaming Video and Photos to the Web

Camera Optics

  • 2X Sharper Professional Glass Lens
  • f/2.8 Fixed Focus
  • 170º Wide FOV (Including 1080p)
  • 127º Medium FOV (In 1080p)
  • 90º Narrow FOV

Video

  • HD RESOLUTIONS:
    • 1080p: 1920×1080, 30FPS
    • 960p: 1280×960, 48FPS + 30FPS
    • 720p: 1280×720, 60FPS + 30FPS
  • STANDARD DEFINITION RESOLUTIONS
    • WVGA: 848×480, 120FPS + 60FPS
  • High Performance,1 /2.3” CMOS Image Sensor
  • Light Sensitivity: .84 V/lux-sec
  • Video Format: H.264 codec, .mp4 File Format
  • Exposure Control: Spot, Center Weighted
  • White Balance: Auto

Photo

  • RESOLUTIONS: 11MP, 8MP, 5 MP
  • FOV: Wide 170º FOV, Medium 127º FOV
  • CAPTURE MODES: Single, 10 Photo Burst, Time-Lapse*, Self-Timer
  • * Now supports time-lapse photo every 0.5 seconds. Requires Class 10 speed SD Card.

Audio

  • Mono, 48 kHz, AAC Compression, Auto Gain Control
  • Stereo External Microphone Input (3.5mm)

Storage

  • MEMORY:
    • SDHC: Up to 32GB (Class 4 or Higher)
  • AVERAGE RECORDING TIME WITH 32GB SD CARD:
    • 1080p30: 4 hours
    • 960p30: 6 hours
    • 720p60: 4 hours
    • 720p30: 6 hours
    • WVGA 120: 4.5 hours

Included Cables

  • USB Cable For Charging and Data Transfer

Battery & Charging

  • 1100mah Rechargeable Lithium-Ion
  • Charge via USB

Operating System

  • Microsoft Windows Vista, 7 and Later
  • Mac OS x 10.5 and Later

Compatible with all GoPro BacPacs

  • Wi-Fi BacPac and Wi-Fi Remote (Coming Soon)
  • LCD BacPac
  • Battery BacPac
  • 3D HERO System




To start using the HD HERO2 you’ll need to insert an SD memory card into the camera, install the battery and then charge it fully. GoPro ships the battery partially charged so if you need to start shooting right away that is also an option.

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Powering on the camera is done by pressing the P button on the front; the front LED recording light will flash three times and the buzzer will omit three short beeps to indicate the camera is powered.

To shut off the HD HERO2 press and hold the same button for two seconds, this time the LED recording light will flash seven times and the buzzer will emit seven quick beeps. The default power setting can be changed to One-Button mode which sets the camera to immediately begin recording once it is powered on.

The front LCD functions as the interface for the HD HERO2 telling the camera mode and allowing the settings to be changed.

Toggling camera modes is done by pressing the P button which cycles through video, photo, burst, time lapse, self timer and settings. Pressing S button found on the top of the camera starts/stops video recording and photo capture. The LED recording light will flash while video is being recorded or once when a photo has been taken.

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The settings for the HD HERO2 are controlled via this same front LCD screen using the two buttons on the device. Scrolling through these options can be a bit tedious, something akin to setting a digital LCD clock.

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The Settings section allows the user to change options such as video resolution, frames per second for shooting, FOV (field of view), photo resolution, and upside down recording among other options. The One Button power/filming setting can be enabled from here as well.

Setting up the mounts is simple. The included adhesive mounts should be placed 24 hours ahead of time to make sure they are securely held in place. The trickiest part of setting up the mount is figuring out what angle you want to shoot from.

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The included three-way pivot arm allows the HD HERO2 to be positioned in almost any position. The included thumbscrews can be hand tightened or for more security an included Phillips screw on the inside of the plastic allows additional security.

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A strange looking white rubber band is provided for attachment during high impact activities such as surfing. GoPro calls this a Locking Plug as it keeps the mount from accidently releasing during rough motion.

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Since I am not an extreme sports person I did not capture anything too exciting so here are some examples of the HD HERO2 in extreme action.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rGfDPpztcII

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uslwIp48Bw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovCblLr3eeA

For comparison here is a thrilling video of me driving. Here you can see the quality of the video is excellent as roadside signs can be easily read.

To test the waterproof capabilities of the HD HERO2 I had my daughters use the camera in the pool. Although I was nervous they would somehow open the housing the GoPro camera survived the ordeal rather easily.

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Here are comparison shots using the camera using the wide 170º FOV and medium 127º FOV.

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Since this is a POV style camera you will see curvature of photos taken as witnessed by the lines on these soccer field pictures.

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Besides the camera and bundled accessories GoPro also offers a free download of their CineForm Studio Software for simple editing and use of some standard effects. For those with multiple HD HERO2 cameras there is even the capability to shoot scenes in 3D with the latest firmware update. The software is simple to use but is a little buggy as it crashed numerous times on OS X 10.7.4.

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Here is the same scene I shot before using the ProTune preset.

Battery life ranges from two to two and half hours. Make sure to change the power settings or else the camera will stay on indefinitely as I learned the hard way when I first started using it. Charging the battery took several hours so if you are doing heavy duty filming you may want to invest in a second battery.

While the camera is well built there are a few drawbacks. By itself the camera does not allow the user to review anything filmed in the field without additional purchases. GoPro does sell the lcd-bacpac that makes the HD HERO2 look more like a traditional camera. But by itself the HD HERO2 makes the user shoot “blind”.

During my daughter’s gymnastics event I asked my wife to shoot some video while I was using my DSLR. As she was initially confused by the lack of a screen or viewfinder I had to explain to her to aim the camera with her line of vision.

Another problem I noticed is the color saturation of the photos is not as crisp as the iPhone 4S. While the pictures look good they did seem washed out when compared to the Apple phone’s camera. A positive of the HD HERO2 was it shot well in lower light conditions.

Menu navigation by the LCD and two buttons is a tedious process and several times I ended up shooting video instead of photos after changing settings and forgetting to scroll to the correct mode.

On a few occasions while shooting video the camera locked up and became unresponsive to any button presses. The only way to remedy this issue required removong the battery then replacing it. Another quirk I noticed was the camera became rather warm even when just powered on without shooting video. I guess this is the price of cramming high-end optics and electronics into a small form factor.


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Conclusion:

The HD HERO2 Outdoor Edition is a tremendous package for the price. Whether you are the artistic/creative type or the athletic daredevil, this is a camera that you can have lots of fun with. Designed for all weather conditions you’ll be able to shoot in all seasons and most any environment. GoPro offers numerous add ons that will make even more adept at dealing with the elements.

While there are some flaws with the setup GoPro continues to address them as they frequently release firmware updates and new add ons. The recently announced – Wi-Fi BacPac and Wi-Fi Remote looks to be a great way to address the lack of on site video/photo reviewing.

I know the HD HERO2 is going to be a camera my family and I will get plenty of use from in the near and far future. Who knows, maybe we will even take up some extreme sports to take advantage of the GoPro camera’s abilities

 

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Pros:
+Hi Quality 1080p video
+Works well under low light
+Sharp video
+Includes waterproof housing
+Fun to use

Cons:
-Occasional freezes
-Gets warm when powered on

Grades:  
Overall score 9 10 thumb1 Review of HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition
Design score 8 10 thumb1 Review of HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition
Performance score 9 10 thumb1 Review of HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition

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