The GoPro HD Hero is indisputably the most popular action camera in the world. Can anything challenge it? We take a look at the main contenders to see if any are true GoPro killers
It’s tough at the top. GoPro may be the darling of the action camera world, a company valued by Wall Street at more than $2billion, but success inevitably breeds competitors. Quite a few firms, from within the camera world and without, have taken a look at GoPro’s immense reported profits and thought to themselves that, yes, they might quite like a bit of that action.
In 2015 alone we’ve seen a lot of products hit our inbox at AP billing themselves as GoPro killers, GoPro rivals, the new GoPros – the wording differs, but the song remains the same.
But how many of them are serious, and how many could seriously pose a challenge in this, the Era Of GoPro? We’ve taken a look at the main contenders to see if any of them could be, potentially, GoPro Killers…
The Sony FDR-X1000VR
The catchily named Sony FDR-X1000VR was announced at CES back in January, where Sony made a big fuss over its capacity to shoot 4K Ultra-High Definition video at 30fps, which it captures at a high bitrate of 100 Mbps using the XAVC-S codec.
It’s not the only, or even the first, action camera to shoot 4K, but it does come with a nifty ultrawide 170 degree angle of view and Electronic SteadyShot image stabilisation.
The FDR-X1000VR is available now, and the GoPro thus far remains unkilled. Still, early days!
Could the Sony FDR-X1000VR be a GoPro killer?
Our verdict: Doesn’t look good so far
The TomTom Bandit
Yes, TomTom. As in sat nav. TomTom has made an action camera.
The TomTom Bandit is a 4K HD action camera to come with a ‘built-in media server’. What this means, practically, is that you’ll be able to edit video on the go without needing to download it to your device.
Among the features TomTom promises is a ‘shake to edit’ function, where giving your phone a good shake will prompt the app to assemble your footage into something lively and shareable. How well it works we’ll have to wait and see.
The Bandit also promises in-camera sensors that will automatically detect the dramatic moments in your footage and highlight them accordingly. Elsewhere, ‘separate start and stop buttons finally solve button anxiety’, which is nice.
We do have to take issue with the slogan though. “Now every hero can share his skills”. Of the 5.2-million people who bought GoPros in 2014, we’re willing to bet at least some of them were women, TomTom.
Could the TomTom Bandit be a GoPro killer?
Our verdict: Well stranger things have happened, possibly.
Imagine the most loyal dog you’ve ever met, but if it were also able to fly and shoot video somehow, and you’re halfway to understanding what Lily is all about.
It’s a camera-equipped drone that doesn’t need piloting because it tracks you via a GPS enabled wristband. Simply throw it up in the air and it’ll activate, ready to follow you as you snowboard down a mountain, or whip along behind as you kayak through a choppy river, or (realistically) hover politely above your head while you eat biscuits.
Lily was announced not long before GoPro declared its own intentions to get into the drone business, which puts an interesting spin on the headlines comparing it to GoPro, for instance declaring it ‘a GoPro that follows you around’. Will GoPro undercut Lily’s USP?
Despite this, Lily does look like something rather special, and at a pre-order price of $499 (£326) it isn’t too expensive either. Still, it’s not shipping until February 2016, and the market could look quite different by then…
Could Lily be a GoPro killer?
Our verdict: Its certainly got potential to capture the imaginations of the extreme sports crowd, if GoPro’s own drones don’t nip it in the bud.
Theoretical, Non-existent Apple Product
It probably says something about the state of the action camera market that one of the biggest recent upsets to GoPro’s market dominance came from a camera that does not, technically, exist.
The news that Apple was granted a patent to develop an action camera was not in itself especially remarkable – Apple, like many firms, buys up patents all the time and many of them never translate into products – however it was enough to spook GoPro investors and GoPro’s share price fell by a not insignificant 12% in the wake of it.
The theoretical product, which doesn’t exist, would potentially include an underwater microphone and a mounting system for helmets or handlebars. Apple has made no announcements relating to action cameras of any kind.
Could Theoretical, Non-existent Apple Product be a GoPro killer?
Our verdict: If it starts existing then potentially, yes. Otherwise no.
If you google “GoPro rival” you’ll see a lot of references to a product you probably haven’t heard of. The Xioami Yi is a Chinese action camera with one simple USP – its price. The Xiaomi Yi retails at 399CNY, which works out at around £41 or US$64. It’s waterproof to depths of 40 metres and is a little lighter than the GoPro HD Hero at a weight of 72g.
There is a gap in the market for an ultra-affordable action camera of quality, however the major drawback to the Xiaomi Yi (and this is quite a big one) is that it’s only available in China. Still, as Google demonstrates, plenty of western tech sites touted it as a GoPro rival for whatever reason, so onto the list it goes.
Could the Xiaomi Yi be a GoPro killer?
Our verdict: In China, certainly. In places where it isn’t sold, its impact is likely to be smaller.
The 4GEE Action Cam
Another company with no real history of cameras is stepping up to the GoPro challenge. This time it’s mobile network EE, better known as the reason you no longer like Kevin Bacon, who has debuted the world’s first 4G-enabled action camera.
The 4GEE (get it? get it?) Action Cam will come bundled with a smartwatch and will be able to live stream video over EE’s 4G network. With up to 64GB of internal storage via microSD extension, the 4GEE Action Cam will be able to house plenty of the footage and stills it captures with its 13-million-pixel sensor. All in all, terrible name notwithstanding, it sounds like a decent package.
Could the 4GEE Action Cam be a GoPro killer?
Our verdict: It’s not impossible, especially after a recent stunt on top of Wembley Stadium proved so popular. It’s facing an uphill struggle though.
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