Bonnie Cha

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GoPro Launches Smaller, Longer-Lasting Hero3+, Eyes Bigger Picture With Easier Sharing

From kitten-saving firefighters to kleptomaniac seagulls, GoPro’s video cameras have captured some interesting perspectives not always possible on smartphones or digital cameras. And the company is looking to provide more of those moments with its latest product, but in a smaller, easier-to-use package.

Today, GoPro announced the Hero3+ series — an evolutionary update to its Hero3 cameras, which it launched almost a year ago. The Hero3+ will be available starting Tuesday and will come in three different models: The Black Edition for $399, the Silver Edition for $299 and the White Edition for $199.

All three sport a design that’s 20 percent thinner and lighter than the Hero3, but only the Black and Silver Editions have new internal components that improve the camera’s image quality and battery life.

According to GoPro’s CEO Nick Woodman, a number of the changes were focused around making the camera easier to use right out of the box. As a result, the Hero3+ Black Edition now offers a feature called SuperView that automatically converts videos shot in 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9, so users don’t have to do this in post production.

The camera also has a new automatic low-light mode, which changes the frame rate based on lighting conditions (i.e., whether you’re outside or inside). Previously, GoPro recommended that the user do this manually, which Woodman admitted was way too much information for anybody who wasn’t technical.

Meanwhile, the Hero3+ Silver Edition is twice as powerful as its predecessor. It can now shoot 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second (fps), compared to 30fps. And by improving the efficiency of some of the camera’s processes, battery life on both the Hero3+ Black and Silver Editions is now about 30 percent greater than the Hero3.

Other enhancements include a 33 percent increase in image sharpness, better audio, four times faster Wi-Fi connection and reduced latency when previewing a video on your smartphone or tablet using GoPro’s app.

Recently, the company also released its Studio 2.0 software, which provides templates and tools for creating videos similar to those found on GoPro’s YouTube channel. Though cameras remain the core of its business, GoPro said it sees a big opportunity in providing customers with an easy solution for sharing their videos online and will make it a focus going forward.

“With our cameras, you build an archive of life experiences, but ultimately, you want to share them,” said Woodman in a phone interview with AllThingsD. “We have an opportunity to enable people to do that in a beautiful way, so we’ll be making significant investments in this area.”

Last year, GoPro sold more than 2.3 million cameras, and the company said it is on track to beat that number this year, even though the action camera market is getting more crowded. Ion, Sony, JVC and Garmin all offer similar products, but GoPro said it welcomes the competition.

“We always feel massive pressure to innovate, but that pressure is more internally generated than externally,” said Woodman. “Still, it’s good to have competitors. I wake up scared every day, and that’s a good thing. It drives us to build better products and experiences.”

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work