Back in 2010, I bought the GoPro 960. I remember the amazement and all the things I could stick it to — from the front of my car to the tip of my skis. Almost ten years, several iterations later, and so much progress in cameras, I was expecting an up-to-date level of quality, but it seems that the product team has been lazy.
Unboxing videos will not inform you if the product will fulfil its purpose or break when you need it the most. We only write our reviews after a decent period of real life use
Purchased: December 2018 | Frequency: Weekly | Price: 220€
- ✅ Good stabilisation
- ✅ Good image quality
- ✅ Decent sound
- ❌ Artificially dumbed down
- ❌ Frustrating Ui
- ❌ Questionable durability
Look and Feel
The early GoPro was brillant in its simplicity, making the most out of two buttons and an archaic LCD screen. Adding a small screen to see what you are filming is a logic evolution. Relying on it for vital controls, not so much.
Everything I liked about the early version is still here: only two buttons, pocket sized, loads of accessories. They added some sort of silicon layer that gives a nice grip to the camera. They improved the microphone to a point where you can use them for recording voice without being ashamed. They do an excellent job in harsh conditions. It is waterproof straight out of the box. If you want to dive deep they have a dedicated "Super Suit" housing, but for snorkelling it's good enough.
Unfortunately, GoPro did lame marketing choices. The product team made choices against its users, like dividing the range in artificially limited versions. The battery is built-in. That was not the case before. How do you justify such a step backwards in evolution? Dumb profit. Only the most expensive GoPro, the Hero 7 Black, has swappable batteries. Since battery life is disappointing, you already get a pretty irritating camera. The touch screen does not work if wet. I did not expect to browse my photos while I am still underwater, but if a drop lands on your screen, it turns crazy.
Protune, which is just a fancy name for "regular camera settings like aperture of shutter speed", is disabled on the Silver. You need the Black edition again. The automatic exposure is doing a great job in most situations, but it is a shame to see a device artificially restricted with software.
One button to turn it on and switch modes, one button to record, a tiny screen to aim. One simple app to browse shots on your phone. To anyone who likes simplicity and minimalism, this is very promising. But execution was not as good as you would think.
The camera feels sloppy and sluggish. The touchscreen will drive you nut. It's laggy, the precision is terrible, swiping to unlock will take you several attempts. There is one rule with touchscreens: don't rely on one if it's not perfect. Remember the early smartphones before the iPhone came out?
Frozen screen of death will happen at least once every session. You need to choke the GoPro to death by pressing power for a minute, then on reboot you will be prompted to reset the date and time. If you don't want to spend 5 minutes each time, your video collection will be in random order thanks to messed up metadata. Seriously! It fucking froze again when I wanted to check something for this article.
Two seconds response time. Even with a high end SD card, there is about three seconds between the moment you press record and the moment it actually starts recording. Waking up from sleep is also slow for such a simple device — A singular definition of "action camera".
The half-assed app and weird file management app, both for iOS and Android, is not what you would expect from a big IT company. On both platforms, connecting your GoPro is random and can sometimes take so many attempts that you just give up. When you finally paired a device, which does not mean you will be able to access it, your phone will always automatically connect to its wifi. So if the GoPro is around, your phone will be disconnected from internet. The only solution is to forget the device, then go through all the pairing process next time you need to.
The remote feature is so slow and laggy that you end up never using it, they did not take advantage of a bigger screen to offer better controls, and the settings simply don't work. The user experience is so poorly designed, it looks like a third party app. GoPro, not that I am the best designer around but shoot me a mail and I will design a proper phone app, perhaps nothing fancy, but something that performs.
It's also messing with your Micro-SD card. The files are locked, if you plug it to your laptop you will not be able to just drag and drop the files. Why not have a simple DCIM folder with all the content? The way it fucks the memory card is a little bit like a dog peeing on something to claim it.
The stabilisation is cool. Your shots will be super steady. That's about what I like in this camera.
Voice command is like most voice commands. Ok-ish I suppose. I do not use it. Maybe I am old fashioned, or maybe only people in ads use voice command. It's one of those weird Hollywood fantasies that are always pushed on us but no one really wanted, like transparent screens or toddlers talking like adults.
GoPro cameras are tough built, they will still function after you drop them from a moving vehicle, or when they get stolen by a seagull. After only two month of use, I noticed condensation behind the lens. Maybe this one GoPro has been assembled on a Monday morning, during monsoon. An expensive device not doing well what it is designed for, this is the definition of hell for me.
The built-in battery is always a sign of programmed obsolescence. Once the battery went through its limited amount of cycles, your device turns into waste. If I had paid more attention to that, I wouldn't have bought it, it's that simple. But I could not guessed they had gone backwards.
Decent videos despite its annoying interface
As you can tell from this bitter review, paying this price to get a castrated version is a waste of money. The systematic freezing and disastrous file management are like a punch in the dick every time you use it. It's like having a fridge but every time you want to access the food you need to solve a fucking riddle. GoPro had a leader position for too long and it made them lazy. Now there is serious competition around like DJI Osmo Action, I am curious to see if they get things right.