GoPro's newest Hero camera is boring and important all at the same time

From The Verge: It’s a GoPro. Just like the iPhone 8 is an iPhone, the new iPad is an iPad, and how most iterative product releases tend to resemble their forebears, the new Hero 6 Black is stunningly similar to the camera it’s supplanting.

Well, mostly. After spending all launch day with the $499 Hero 6 Black, and a few days after that, I can say it’s definitely easily mistaken for the $399 Hero 5 Black, especially on the outside. If you try to pluck the newer of the two out of a bag, the laws of probability dictate that you’ll only get the Hero 6 half the time. They’re that physically identical.

So why the $100 price bump this year? The answer lies on the inside with the new GP1 processor — GoPro’s latest weapon in the action camera market, and the thing that most distinguishes the Hero 6 Black from the Hero 5 Black. It’s been custom-designed by a company called Socionext, and is exclusive to GoPro. From the sounds of it, GoPro was heavily involved in the process of its creation, which took almost three years from the earliest discussions.

It’s an important step for GoPro, because it gives them distance from competitors who have increasingly used the same components — Ambarella’s processors in particular — that help make GoPros good cameras in the first place. It also gives them more control over the image pipeline.

GoPro even argues that the GP1 has more potential than the Ambarella processors it’s replacing because of that control. Late in the day at the launch event, when an athlete asked CEO Nick Woodman about what other resolution / frame rate combinations might be coming (as if 4K footage at 60 fps wasn’t enough), he said, “We haven’t completely unlocked the performance of GP1 yet.”

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