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GoPro to Launch World's First 3D Action Cam

Well, it was only a matter of time. After running out of higher resolutions to offer, action cam companies were bound to manufacture their cameras to the latest craze in video: 3D. And it appears GoPro is positioned to be the first. While competitors have been busy launching 1080p and or/GPS-equipped action cams over the past few months, GoPro is preparing to launch a 3D Expansion Kit.

The kit is already advertised on Go Pro's site with the ever-frustating "Coming Soon" label on it. Fox News reported last week that that label will translate to a launch next month. 

January is the perfect time for GoPro to launch its 3D kit, with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) early in the month and the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market later in the month. CES is the electronics' industry's biggest show of the year and Outdoor Retailer is a biannual expo for the outdoor sports industry, the industry where Go Pro products tend to see the most use. I'd expect that GoPro will unveil the kit at CES and then have it prepared to launch if not launched by Outdoor Retailer. 

The good news is that the expansion kit will only cost $90, a small fraction of what you'd pay for other 3D video cams. The bad news is that it's a kit for a reason: there are no cameras in it. You'll have to buy not one, but two GoPro HD cameras to produce the left-eye/right-eye affect of HD 3D. Those cameras will cost you another $260 each (for full HD models). So that's about $610 for the whole package, still much cheaper than what average 3D camcorder would run. Of course, I don't expect that the video quality will be as good with GoPro's piecemeal cam, but it should deliver the 3rd dimension reasonably enough for your DIY action sports footage.

Go Pro chief Nicholas Woodman argues that Go Pro's dual-cam kit set-up increases consumer value: " When they want to use the cameras independently, people can break the 3-D camera casing apart, and give one to their son; then they can shoot with the other one and it's fantastic. The value proposition is great -- they don't have to bet the farm on just a 3-D camera." 

Which is a good, because so far, the 3D craze looks as though it may be a short-lived fad. Besides the expense of upgrading your already-expensive 1080p equipment to 3D equipment, there's currently a big lack of content. Outside of a select few movies and ESPN 3D, there isn't much 3D to watch. 

Fox News makes the point that 3D action cams like the Go Pro could help fuel 3D TV sales by providing a new source of content, but I find it hard to believe that a content source as marginal as an action cam could have any real impact on the television market. Professional-grade movies and action sports videos might make upgrading to 3D TV attractive, but shaky, amateur video doesn't seem like a compelling motivator.  People bought $300 HD action cams to enjoy the best quality footage on their HD TVs; they didn't buy $2,000 HD TVs so that they could view their crappy action cam footage in ful 1080p. 

But if you want to see all your snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, sky diving, etc. in full, realistic 3D, then the Go Pro 3D kit may be just right for you. Unfortunately, it'll be just a little late for the holiday season so you'll have to treat yourself. (Update: The GoPro 3D Expansion kit is now availble on Amazon here.)


Via: Fox News