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New Gadgets for Orienteers: HeadCam + GPS watch

The GoPro HD Hero2 and the Garmin Forerunner 910XT both promise to be best-in-class gadgets in categories interesting for orienteers. The Garmin 910XT is the first GPS-watch with built-in barometer – making it possible to analyze your trainings and competitions more accurately due to accurate altitude data. The GoPro HD Hero2 looks like it will be the best HeadCam on the market – with several interesting features.

Is the Garmin Forerunner 910XT or the GoPro HD Hero2 something for you?

Garmin Forerunner 910XT


The big advantage of the Forerunner 910XT is the barometric altitude data

The Garmin Forerunner 910XT is the second new GPS watch released by Garmin this year after the Forerunner 610 which was released in April this year (see introduction at WorldofO.com April 2011). At that time, the Forerunner 610 was the first GPS watch since the good old Forerunner 305 sporting 1-second recording – a feature important for accurate analysis of orienteering training and competitions. Since then the Forerunner 310XT has been upgraded for 1-second recording through a firmware update. And now the new Forerunner 910XT also sports 1-second recording.

The big advantage of the Forerunner 910XT is the barometric altitude data. The altitude data in the previous Forerunner watches was close to useless for orienteering purposes – the data from the 910 XT should however be very useful in that regard – especially if several runners have this type of data available for e.g. route choice comparison including accurate length and altitude information.

No day-to-day watch

Is the Forerunner 910XT something for you? That depends. The Forerunner 910XT is no day-to-day watch. It is meant only for use during sports like the 310XT, and has a battery which lasts for 20 hours. In contrast, the 610 and the 405/410 are day-to-day watches with a battery life of around 2 weeks if you turn off the GPS. The 910 XT (as the 310 XT and 305 before) sports hardware buttons instead of the fancy touch screen of the 610 and the touch bezel of the 405/410. The 910 XT is also larger than the 610/405/410.  For sports use only, I would recommend the 910XT – but to some life is more than sports…

PS! The Forerunner 910XT has also some interesting stuff like a swim-stroke sensor built-in. Now where is that AMRD-functionality? The accelerometer is there – only the software missing…

GoPro HD Hero2


The two most used HeadCams for high quality are the Contour cameras and the GoPro cameras. Contour recently released the Contour Roam – now GoPro released the GoPro HD Hero2. Of these cameras the Hero2 promises the best quality and the most interesting features. At $299 (US price) you get a lot for the price. For HeadCam videos the 170 degree wide angle lens in HD is a clear improvement compared to the previous GoPro HD Hero camera. Also better signal processing should give improved image quality.

Live video streaming

Coming this winter is also the Wi-Fi BacPac for the GoPro HD Hero2 – a feature which might increase the possibilities to see live HeadCam action in BigScreen productions and TV from orienteering? “When paired with the Wi-Fi BacPac, the HD HERO2 supports live video streaming and remote control via smart-devices, computers, and the Web wherever Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot is present”, the GoPro website states.

Do you need one? If your main purpose is o-technical analysis, the answer is probably no. XCJagge uses “the ebay 720p keychain camera #11 ‘jumbo’ for 32 Euro – some modifications needed” for his videos. But the Hero2 will surely be a fun camera to play with. Your videos will have a quality which makes them usable for more than just analysis – the SD 120 frames-per-second mode will give some nice slow-motion action.

About Jan Kocbach

Jan Kocbach is the founder of WorldofO.com - taking care of everything from site development to writing articles, photography and analysis.

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One comment

  1. Note, the weight of older model GoPro Hero 960, (camera, waterproof case and headband) is 260g. I believe this new device isn’t any lighter, may be the opposite. For training and making O videos that may be fine, but I am not sure would I like to regularly run races with such a device. As comparison, my setup’s weight is about one fifth of that weight, about 50g (camera+ headband). There is plenty of room in between. I would like to see an out-of-the-box usable about 80g wide angle HD head cam. We can’t expect people start running with 250g cameras – or drill holes, re-mount image sensors and glue new lenses like I did…