Top positive review
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Better than OEM? Better believe it!
on February 10, 2014
Wasabi kit (US Version) VS: Smatree kit (biggest rival) kit & OEM Accessories
--> Battery Rated Capacity - Wasabi Batteries 1280mAh rated higher than 1200mAh rival brands & 1050mAh OEM
--> Battery Performance - Batteries SIGNIFICANTLY outperform OEM & rival brands in Rec time test (see below)
--> Battery Weight - Wasabi batteries weighted same as OEM 23g each, Rival brands 25g each
--> Battery Core - Li-Poly meets OEM specs and is better than rivals that use Li-Ion
--> AC Adaptor - Compact travel AC adaptor w/ fold up prongs smaller than rival & OEM offerings
--> AC Adaptor - Outputs 3.1A instead 2.1A of rival brand and 2.0A of OEM
--> AC Adaptor - No Bright LED unlike rival AC Adaptor (OEM has no LED)
--> DC Adaptor - 3.1A output matched rival and beats OEM (2.0A)
--> Build Quality - Wasabi matte finish and build quality on par with OEM and better than Smatree's mixture of matte and glossy
--> Battery Physical Size - Wasabi Batteries were a noticeably tighter fit in GoPro3 camera
--> AC Adaptor - THIS Wasabi kit only offer US plug (international version is now available), Rival brand offers US & EU Plug compatibility, OEM offers US,UK,EU,& AU
--> DC Adaptor - Wasabi unit is largest physical size unit compared to rival or OEM (smallest)
Most would agree mAh ratings from aftermarket batteries are rarely accurate. Even if rated lower, OEM batteries typically slightly outlast aftermarket products. Coming into the comparison test that is exactly what I expected to find. I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find the Wasabi 21% higher mAh rating over OEM to be fairly accurate. My recording time test yielded 25% longer record time over OEM and 35% longer than the rival Smatree batteries*. I also noticed the Wasabi batteries appeared to retain stored power longer than it's rival, but were comparable to the OEM battery. I believe the primary differences in battery performance between Smatree and Wasabi can be credited to Wasabi using a Lithium-Polymer core, exactly the same as the OEM. Smatree battery is the only one of the three that used a Li-Ion core. The only complaint was that the Wasabi battery had a very snug fit inside the camera. I am unable to test the long -term size variation in the product (since it's new) to see if the batteries will increase/decrease with use, but I expect it to be very minimal due to the use of a Li-Poly core.
Timed Battery Performance*:
OEM 1050mAh - 69:55
Smatree 1200mAh - 64:33
Wasabi 1280mAh - 87:26
*Recording time settings: GoPro3 w/ latest Firmware, Sandisk 32GB CL10, Video mode @ 1080/60fps, NO Wi-Fi, 2 Led flash, Indoors, avg room temp 65F; Batteries used: brand new Wasabi 1280mAh 4.7Wh Li-Poly, brand new Smatree 1200mAh 4.4Wh Li-Ion, 1 month old (charged twice) GoPro OEM 1050mAh 3.885Wh Li-Poly
The OEM and comparable Smatree kits include AC adaptors that feature international outlet support. Perhaps convenient, I don't see this as a huge advantage due to accessibility of USB ports globally. The inclusion of a DC port adds another in-car charging option internationally as well. The Smatree and OEM AC adaptors are physically 50%+ larger than the Wasabi's AC Adaptor that featured foldable prongs. More importantly the Wasabi features 3.1A total output and the other only offer 2.1A and 2.0A. The increased amperage output is a huge advantage in using the AC adaptor to charge large item (tablet) and 2 batteries at once. Something that might be an annoyance to some is that the Smatree AC adaptor feature a VERY light blue LED, while the Wasabi and OEM offerings do not. NOTE: Wasabi is now offering a Worldwide Kit with a AC charger similar to the Smatree kit but with 3.1A and more plug adaptors.
The DC adaptors offered by all 3 kits feature 2 ports and 2.0A (OEM) or 3.1A (Smatree/Wasabi). All disappointingly don't offer replaceable fuses. The Wasabi physical size is the largest of the three, but is only slightly larger. The Wasabi is the only one of the three to feature an LED. The Smatree charger was labeled with a part number YXT-SC029, but that only appears to reference its generic nature.
The Wasabi and Smatree have charging bases and USB cords that are nearly 100% identical, and worked similarly. GoPro's dual charger positions the batteries horizontal instead of vertical. All feature charging LEDS that change color to indicate charging or not charging.
GoPro still appears to be the leader in build quality, but the entire Wasabi kit still feels very much above average. The Wasabi DC charger might have been the largest but it's no-seam exterior construction seemed to be better design than the other 2.
MY VERDICT: The impressive Wasabi batteries and quality AC & DC adaptor makes this kit a MUST buy for any GoPro user working with a budget and needing longer battery performance. At the time of this review the Wasabi kit was slightly (+-5%) more expensive than the Smatree kit, but even at a 50-60% price premium the Wasabi kit is well worth the cost over their rival. I'd much rather have longer recording times per battery than more batteries with shorter recording time.