If you are the type that likes to combine travel with skateboarding, snowboarding, or bungee jumping, I've got the item for you. While the GoPro Digital Hero3 camera may not fit the credo of "practical travel gear," it certainly is more practical (and sensible) than trying to use a normal camera or digicam for extreme footage. For instance, here's a quick frenetic video I shot while on the crazy Voyage roller coaster at Holiday World in Indiana.
The camera itself takes 3 megapixel photos or shoots 512 X 384 video at 30 frames per second. The little camera then fits into a handy waterproof case that straps around your wrist. So you can snap a photo or shoot video while up in the air or splashing around surfing if you're coordinated enough. The controls are intuitive and easy to use, which is key if you're going to use it in the course of action.
What about the image quality? Alas, this is more of a bragging rights capture device than a serious camera, which can only be expected given the size and the price. In my tests the still photo image quality was just decent--about what you would expect from a cell phone camera image. Lighting has to be good, so bright outdoor shots work best. You can see the video quality in the clip above, which again depends on the lighting conditions. When I tried to just pan across a panorama scene from a hotel balcony, the pixelation of the sky was really distracting, even before the compression it would face uploading it to something like YouTube or Blogger (as above). You can see lots of better still and video examples on the GoPro website.
It uses AAA batteries and the same SD memory cards as most digital cameras, so you can use this pretty much anywhere in the world without having to carry extra proprietary stuff along. It plugs into the USB port on a computer for uploading and an included adapter also lets you watch your rad video right on the TV.
For the price of only $139, it delivers as promised and is a fun toy for the outdoor adventurer who often yells, "Check out this move!" Someone working for Delta's baggage department apparently fits that description: the Hero3 was stolen out of my checked luggage coming back from Mexico. Grrrr...
Get the GoPro Hero3 at Amazon.