Eighteen months ago we reviewed the GoPro Motorsports Hero, a compact video and still-frame camera kit seemingly aimed directly at us gearheads for digitally capturing some of our on-track and street driving fun. Since then, GoPro has gone several steps further in the development of its product. The company has now released the HD Motorsports HERO, possibly the world's best high-performance, professional quality, 1080p, 960p, and 720p high-definition resolution video and still-frame digital camera, capable of recording video at 30 frames per second in all resolutions, and even 60 fps in 720p mode.
And the upgrades over the previous model don't stop there. The ability to record sound both inside and outside the vehicle, and the resulting quality, has been greatly enhanced by selectively filtering wind noise and drone, and the utilization of automatic volume gain control programming, so that you can hear more "motor" in your video sequences. An 1100mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery is now included with the kit, which lasts for up to 2.5 hours of constant recording.
The battery is designed to work in high-vibration environments and can be recharged by USB, wall outlet, or using your car's 12V socket. The GoPro HD is capable of using SD memory cards up to 32gb in size-equating to more than 8 hours of 720p (30 fps) video. Automatic still shot settings are expanded too, and include 2, 5,10, 30, and 60-second shot intervals. In addition, an upside down shooting mode for both still and video will soon be released as a downloadable firmware upgrade.
The GoPro HD Motorsports Hero weighs in at a featherweight 3.3 ounces (94g) including its battery pack, and 5.9oz (167g) when loaded into its protective shock- and waterproof (to 180ft/55m) polycarbonate housing. Camera mounting can be accomplished with any of the six reusable mounts and associated hardware (five quick-release and one special heavy-duty suction cup), so several shooting positions can be pre-set to save you setup time. Three connectivity cables are also included for saving and viewing your work: USB, TV, and HDTV.
After testing the new GoPro Motorsports Hero on the 2010 GT3 T-Rex project car, we were very impressed with the new video quality HD formats. However, note that you do need a fairly fast computer to run video in the ultra-high-quality 16:9 ratio 720p/60 fps mode to avoid frame skipping on playback; the GoPro HD collects huge amounts of data. As previously reported, a bright sunny day gives the best picture quality results, but filming in overcast conditions also resulted in surprisingly good video. Sound quality is now excellent; we were able to record laps using two different exhaust systems, which clearly differentiated the two slightly different exhaust tones-awesome!
If you're looking for a fun and practical tool to collect high-quality images, video, and sounds from your latest automotive or motorsport adventures, look no further than the GoPro HD Motorsports Hero. It retails for $299.99. -Doug Neilson