One of the main attractions of GoPros and other action cams is that you can use them in places that most cameras can't go. But that also means that there are times you'll probably want to use it without have the camera in your hand. And for that, you'll want to control your GoPro remotely. There are a number of ways you can do that, each with its own pros and cons for particular situations. So here's a rundown of how to remotely control your GoPro.
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GoPro has three different remotes for their action cameras. Two of them are current models, one is an old model but you can still find it for sale in some places, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. (UDPATE: Since I originally posted this, GoPro has discontinued the Remo, leaving the Smart Remote as the only current model.) So here's a rundown of which remote works for what situations.
First, though, here's a quick overview of what the three remotes are. Further down the page, I have some alternative ways to control your GoPro remotely.
GoPro Smart Remotedoesn't work underwater). And you can change the camera's settings using the small screen on the remote that mirrors what you'd see on the small front screen on the larger GoPro models. It's also compatible with all GoPro models that have wireless capabilities.
If you don't need the voice control of the Remo, the Smart Remote is by far the most powerful and flexible option, and it's the remote I use most of the time.
GoPro Remounderwater), rated down to 16 feet or 5 meters. In optimum conditions, GoPro claims it has a range of up to 33 feet (10 meters) away. The range is much shorter than the Smart Remote because the Remo connects only via Bluetooth, which has a much shorter effective range than wifi. And it recharges via USB, with a USB-C connector.
Since I originally posted this, GoPro has discontinued the Remo. I'm not particularly surprised, honestly. Several times I ran into reliability issues when using it even just as a button remote with the voice aspect. And based on reports from other users that accumulated online, I'm not the only one. So unless you really need the voice control, I'd recommend the Smart Remote over the Remo.
GoPro Wifi Remote
This model has been discontinued. Even if you do manage to find one for sale, there's really no reason to choose it over the Smart Remote and some good reasons not to.
In terms of features, there is some overlap between the Wifi Remote and the Smart Remote. They're both waterproof (the Wifi Remote is less waterproof, rated down to 10 feet (3 meters)), can control up to 50 cameras at once, can be used to change settings, and look very similar. But the Smart Remote has a much longer range, much better battery life, and is, in my experience, a much more reliable way to control your GoPros. I'd generally recommend getting the Smart Remote rather than the Wifi Remote.
Which GoPro Remote to Use When? GoPro Smart Remote vs Wifi Remote vs Remo Remote
If you want to control multiple cameras at once
Smart Remote. The clear winner here is the Smart Remote. You can control up to 50 camera at once.
One thing to watch, though, especially if you're mixing GoPro models, is that operations like start and stop are close but not exact down to the frame. That is, you can still end up with slight lags from camera to camera when starting and stopping recording.
Another thing I've run into is that sometimes some cameras will start while others don't. It's frustrating to find later that one or more cameras simply didn't start recording. So it basically means that you've got to visually confirm that they've all started recording. But the ability to control multiple cameras at once is still something I find very useful.
If you want to use voice commands
Remo. There' no competition here. Only one of these remotes offers voice control, and that's the Remo. It works directly with the voice control in the HERO6 and HERO5 models.
I'm personally a bit ambivalent about the voice control, and especially with the REMO remote. I've had too many times where it hasn't worked as reliably as I'd like it to and I've ended up having to work around it. But in those situations where voice control is important, the Remo is the only option for controlling a HERO6 or HERO5 remotely by voice.
I should point out that simply adding a Remo remote to the mix doesn't add voice control with other GoPro cameras that don't have their own built-in support for the feature. Put another way, there's no way to use voice control with a HERO4 Black, for instance, because the HERO4 Black camera doesn't have voice control support. (Note that although the HERO (2018) has onboard support for voice commands, it doesn't work with wireless remotes so isn't compatible with the Remo; the same is true with the HERO7 Silver and White models.)
Which GoPro remotes are waterproof?
If you need the remote itself to be waterproof, you'll be wanting the Smart Remote or Remo. If you're using a GoPro in damp conditions, both the Smart Remote and the Remo are waterproof. The Smart Remote is rated down to 33 feet (10 meters), while the Remo is rated down to 16 feet (5 meters).
But it's important to know that the wireless signal doesn't work through water, so while you can get the remote and camera wet and they work in rainy or splashy conditions above water, you won't be able to use the remote underwater to control the camera. If you need to do that, there are workarounds that involve running a cable to the camera, but they require some setup--I have more on them below.
I've found them most useful when doing things like kayaking or surfing, where you're mostly above the water but getting wet is inevitable.
Other Ways to Control Your GoPro Remotely
There are some other ways to control your GoPro remotely.
GoPro Mobile App. This one is pretty obvious. You can connect your phone or tablet wirelessly to your GoPro for full control over settings and shooting as well as a through-the-lens live preview and playback. You can only connect to one camera at a time, and it's as waterproof as your phone is. It's compatible with all GoPros that have wireless capabilities. It's available free directly from GoPro.check those before buying. You can find them at Amazon and B&H Photo.
Underwater Wifi Extension Cable. As you'd guess from the name, this isn't wireless. But since wireless signals don't work underwater, this is a way to control your GoPro remotely while it's fully submerged. There are DIY ways to do this, but CamDo offers an off-the-shelf option. While I haven't tried this product specifically yet, I've used other CamDo products in the past and been very impressed with them. You can get them directly from CamDo.
How to Charge the Smart Remote, WiFi Remote, and Remo
All of these remotes have built-in rechargeable batteries that aren't removable. So you need to connect the remote directly to a power source to charge it.
Both the Smart Remote and Wifi Remote use a special charging dock that looks a bit like a key. If you've lost that dock, there's no way to charge the remote--you can't just plug it in to any USB cable. The good news is that if you have lost it, you can pick it up GoPro remote charger cables as replacement parts from a number of aftermarket manufacturers relatively inexpensively, such as this one. The charging cable uses standard USB to charge, so you can connect it to any of the usual power sources, from wall adapters to USB hubs to power bricks.
With the Remo, it charges using a standard USB-C connection. The Remo doesn't take advantage of the rapid charging offered by high-output chargers like the Smart Charger.
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