PROS / Its touchscreen makes the HERO4 Silver easier to use than previous generations.
CONS / At 90 minutes, its battery life isn't competitive.
VERDICT / With advanced shooting options and a touch-enabled display, the GoPro HERO4 Silver offers a great balance between technical performance and usability.
The GoPro HERO4 Silver is part of the latest generation of GoPro action cameras, offering better features, faster framerates and larger resolutions than ever before. It can't boast the best shooting options like the HERO4 Black, but it more than makes up for its technical shortcomings with the addition of a built in touchscreen display. This display, in combination with framerate and resolution options that are only second to the Black model, makes the GoPro HERO4 Silver the best action camera available and our pick for the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
Since action cameras began immortalizing outdoor adventures, framerates and resolution have always been the most important imaging specs to consider. Higher resolution means a larger, clearer image and a faster framerate means smoother slow-motion to make your action shots that much more breathtaking. With a resolution of up to 4K and a max framerate of 240 frames per second, the HERO4 Silver is an obvious front-runner. These specifications, however, come with a few caveats.
Firstly, the HERO4 Silver's max resolution is only available when shooting at 15 frames per second. Although the 4K resolution is great, 15 frames per second is going to be seem noticeably less fluid than the typical 30 fps. Fortunately, users don't have to sacrifice too much in order to get that frame rate back up to 30 fps. It can be achieved by simply lowering the resolution to 2.7k – a resolution that is still superior to those offered by the vast majority of action camcorders.
Similarly, the HERO4 Silver's fastest framerate, 240 fps, is only available when shooting in standard definition. While this footage will be extremely smooth and gives you more freedom when slowing it down, its resolution is relatively low and so its clarity will suffer dramatically. For better resolution while still maintaining some slow-motion ability, users can shoot in 720p at 120fps or 1080p at 60fps. With specifications like these, the HERO4 Silver is second only to the HERO4 Black in terms of imaging performance.
In our testing, we also found the HERO4 to produce some of the best-looking video as well. Its colors were accurate, it did well in low light and its dynamic range was better than most other cameras we reviewed. It's one thing for a camera to boast top-notch specifications, but to back up those specs with actual performance makes this camera that much better.
Battery life is undoubtedly the weakest aspect of the HERO4 Silver, coming in at just 90 minutes per charge. That's not just mediocre; it's shorter than anything else on our lineup, the average being 140 minutes. Though it's hard to tell, this is likely a result of GoPro's stellar shooting performance as well as its minimal size and weight. It's not ideal, but it's a tradeoff we can live with. Besides, the GoPro's battery is removable and finding a spare is an easy way to double your recording time.
If you're planning on using an old GoPro battery, however, you're out of luck. One of the very few things that have changed in this latest model is the shape of its battery and the design of the battery door. Although the hinged door is a welcome change for anyone who has worked with GoPro's previous battery door, it does make old batteries incompatible.
Aside from the door, not much has changed in the GoPro's boxlike shape. This means that those who have previous-generation cases and mounts won't need to buy new ones. If you do need mounts or cases, GoPro offers a wide range online and in brick and mortar stores. There are also many third-party companies that make affordable accessories if you're willing to take the risk of purchasing unofficial parts.
Perhaps the most important inclusion for the GoPro HERO4 Silver is its touchscreen display. With just three buttons, GoPros have never been the easiest devices to navigate, and despite their wide field of view, the lack of a preview screen made precisely framing shots difficult. The addition of this display solves both of those issues and propels this model to the top of our list.
Like most modern action cams, this device is Wi-Fi enabled. This means you can connect it to your smartphone or tablet remotely. Once connected, you can use GoPro's mobile application to adjust settings like framerates, resolution and shooting modes or to start recording remotely with a live preview in the palm of your hand.
With time-lapse videos becoming an increasingly popular way to capture and share moments, it's no surprise that this camcorder has a mode built right in. Not only does this mode capture the images for you, but it stitches them together into a single, short video. New GoPros also come equipped with a new mode for night shooting. This mode allows you to customize the shutter speed, leaving it open for up to 30 seconds at a time to capture as much light as possible. This means you can capture time-lapses at night without having to artificially boost the brightness of your images.
It's also worth noting that the button on the side of the GoPro has changed with this latest update. Previously, that button was really only useful for enabling Wi-Fi. With the HERO4 Silver, it also provides quick access to commonly used video settings – a huge improvement in our eyes.
Help & Support
As an industry leader, GoPro backs up its products with excellent customer service. In our experience, telephone support staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. If phone support isn't you're thing, you can also contact GoPro via email or Twitter. If you run into any manufacture-related issues with your HERO4 Silver, keep in mind that it comes with a one-year warranty.
With its impressive resolution and framerate options and a useful touchscreen display, the GoPro HERO4 Silver offers an excellent combination of technical ability and usability. It is this combination that makes the GoPro HERO4 our top pick and a great choice for pretty much anyone.