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Just call me hero: GoPro tempts the budget crowd with the simplified $199 Hero

Announced March 29, GoPro’s latest camera is a simplified, streamlined model simply called the Hero. At $199, it is the cheapest model in GoPro’s lineup that includes a built-in LCD monitor.

The Hero looks much like the latest generations of GoPro, the Hero5 and Hero6 Black, with the same gray body that’s waterproof without a case and a 2-inch touchscreen at the back. That’s because the Hero integrates some of the best features from those higher-end GoPros while offering a narrower focus on ease of use that should make it attractive to first-time action cam buyers.

Like it’s more expensive peers, the Hero is compatible with the GoPro app (iOS and Android) and will auto-edit videos via QuikStory. It also offers similar durability, being waterproof down to 30 feet — just 3 feet short of the Hero6 Black specs. And of course, the Hero is compatible with all existing GoPro mounts.

So where’s that $200 price difference? For one, the Hero can’t shoot 4K. However, it can shoot beyond 1080p to 1440p at up to 60 frames per second. Still images are also lower resolution, just making it into double digits at 10 megapixels. Voice control is also included, but the camera already has to be powered on for the voice commands to work — the Hero6 Black uses a special chip that allows users to turn it on by voice. GoPro also hasn’t ditched video stabilization on the cheaper model, but as it doesn’t appear to use the powerful GP1 processor found in the Hero6, we don’t expect its stabilization performance to be as good.

GoPro says the Hero joins the $299 Hero5 and $399 Hero6, but doesn’t mention the Hero5 Session that sits at the same price point. The Session is GoPro’s smallest camera, offers 4K video at 30 fps and voice control, but doesn’t have room for the screen.

Beyond first-time action camera buyers, GoPro suggests the Hero is great for kids, travelers, and social media users that may not need to complete list of features that the flagship Hero6 offers.

GoPro ended its every-other-year update schedule last year with the HERO6 — and ended up posting the first profit in two years as a result. Adding a budget option is likely part of the company’s efforts to stabilize after a rough few years with falling sales and increasing competition.

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