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Review: GoPro HD Hero3 Black Edition with Streaming via WiFi

The GoPro Hero3 Black Edition has a number of standout features, which have set the bar even higher for tiny HD video and still cameras, but the focus of this review will be not just the top-of-the-line new model's range of great features, but the ability to stream video live from the camera via a WiFi connection to a tablet or Smartphone.

Live Preview

While the remote is useful, what is more beneficial for the user is being able to control and have a live preview of what is in the frame. This can be achieved by connecting the camera to a smartphone or tablet via the GoPro App. 

The most noticeable drawback of using the app is that it is a battery killer. Using the app will heat up the GoPro, draining the battery at a much faster rate, as well as quickly draining the battery of either your smartphone or your tablet.

However, the ease of use of the app to control every detail of the settings quickly as well as to see exactly what you are shooting, makes the app really, really practical.

Instead of fumbling through menu screens with only two buttons, users can quickly and instantly change shooting modes, frame rates, resolution, and more from within the app. Users can also see a low-quality stream of exactly what the camera sees. It should be noted, though, that when recording, only certain resolutions remain visible.

The clip below provides a look at the functionality and interface design of the GoPro App.

So when you change the settings from 720p to 2.7K, you won't actually notice a difference in quality, and when you hit record, the live view will disappear. When shooting in resolution(s) up to 2.7K, the live preview is supposed to remain running. However, with multiple tests of switching settings and resolutions, I found that this didn't always work as it was supposed to. Now, it wasn't every single time, but every once in a while the live preview just didn't seem to work correctly.

A number of troubleshooting attempts later, preview wouldn't work until I turned off both the camera and the GoPro app and then turned them back on. This might have been due to excessive use, but regardless I felt like it shouldn't have happened nearly as often as it did. 

Remote Signal Strength

The range when using the WIFI app is greatly diminished as compared to the remote. The live preview will run in to issues around 20-40ft. The signal strength just doesn't seem to be strong enough maintain a steady stream of the video to the app. Multiple dropped frames and eventual loss of connection result.

Overall...

Overall, the GoPro app is extremely useful. It will chew through your batteries after some extended use, and the app itself might have some minor issues. However, when getting the correct framing is critical, the new GoPro's ability to live stream video and audio to a smartphone or tablet is highly beneficial.

It would be nice to see an improved operating range, especially for professionals utilizing the camera for aerial shots or in situations where the camera is constantly changing location. The ease of use and practicality of streaming camera settings and a live preview are tremendous, but could use some improvements. Hopefully we will see those improvements with GoPro's next big release.

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