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GoPro’s new entry-level Hero adds LCD, wireless, improved video and photo capture

GoPro has a new entry-level Hero camera that may appeal to those who want more a bit more performance than the basic model offers, but don’t require all the bells and whistles of the higher-end Hero4 models. The new Hero+ LCD, available starting on June 7 for $300, has a built-in LCD (hence its name), enhanced video resolution, higher-resolution for photos, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

Like the Hero4 Silver, the Hero+ LCD has a touchscreen display on the back that lets you frame your shot and access controls — handy for tasks like in-camera editing of short clips. New to the entry-level series is HiLight Tagging, which lets you mark favorite moments during recording so you can easily revisit them in post-editing. Like the Hero, the Hero+ LCD is built into (non-removable) underwater housing that makes it waterproof down to 131 feet and resistant to any shocks it might encounter through the course of rugged activities.

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Video performance is an improvement over the Hero model. The Hero+ LCD can shoot at Full HD 1080 at 60 frames per second (fps) versus the Hero’s 30 fps. And it can capture photos at 8 megapixels, versus 5 megapixels with the Hero. However, it still can’t match the Hero4 Silver, which captures 12-megapixel photos (with 30 fps burst mode, versus 5 fps for the Hero+ LCD) and shoots 720p at 120 fps, 1440p, 2K, and even 4K at 15 fps. You also don’t get some of the more advanced features in the Silver, like Time Lapse and Protune (which lets you fine-tune settings like ISO and white balance).

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With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you can control the Hero+ LCD remotely as well as upload short clips to social media via a smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android, and Windows Phone). From out experience with the Hero4 Silver and Black, the GoPro App is one of the better camera apps we’ve used. It’s great for setting up a camera for night shots, or whenever you can’t access the camera directly. The live view streaming video is always smooth and stable, and we expect this to be true in the Hero+ LCD.

Because of the LCD and wireless features, battery life takes a big hit when you have both activated. Shooting at 1080/60p, battery life is estimated at 1 hour 45 minutes. With both turned off, you only get 2 hours. Unfortunately, this is an issue to keep in mind: Since the camera is built into the housing, you can’t swap batteries like you could with the Silver and Black models. Once the battery is depleted, you’ll have to either recharge or attach a portable USB charger to keep it running.

The Hero+ LCD is an improvement over the Hero, but is it worth the $170 premium? In our eyes, that’s a bit expensive when you can get the even better Hero4 Silver for only $100 more than the Hero+ LCD. With the Hero4 Silver, you not only get the LCD and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but you get much better performance. Also, the Hero4 Silver supports external mics for stereo audio (the Hero+ LCD has a mono mic), has an HDMI-out port, and lets you swap batteries. Yes, it’s more expensive than the barebones Hero, but if you are stepping up to a better Hero, opt for the Silver. The Hero+ LCD, on the other hand, is ideal for those buying their first GoPro camera, but want a bit more than what the Hero offers.