Simplified ContourROAM actioncam goes underwater and costs less
By Ben Coxworth
September 8, 2011
Amongst the various actioncam brands currently in existence, Contour is certainly one of the better-known. Today, the company introduced a new addition to its family, the ContourROAM. Like its predecessors the Contour+ and ContourGPS, it has a rugged cylindrical aluminum body, and a swiveling lens that users aim via two laser beams on either side. Unlike those cameras, however, it can be taken in the water, and goes from being powered off to recording with the push of one button.
The ContourROAM offers resolution modes of 720, 960 and 1080p, along with a 5-megapixel still photo mode. Its non-removable battery is reportedly good for three hours on one charge, and it will record up to eight hours of 1080p footage on a 32GB microSD card (not included). Like the top-of-the-line Contour+, it has a wide 170-degree lens.
As with the GoPro HERO 960, its power and record buttons are one and the same - you turn the camera on, and it's recording. Since it has no viewfinder, this makes sense. The only reason you would be powering the camera up is to record, so why bother having it be two steps? This way, there's no uncertainty as to whether or not it's rolling.
It's also unique in the Contour lineup, in that it is waterproof to one meter (3.28 feet) for 30 minutes. This doesn't mean that it would be OK to take it scuba diving, but it should be fine for things like white water kayaking or surfing. It is also the first Contour to feature a tripod mount.
The big thing that this model lacks is iOS/Android support by Bluetooth. This feature allows users of the other two models to use their smartphone as a viewfinder, or to adjust camera settings on location. It also lacks the other models' GPS feature and the external mic input of the Contour+, although these shortcomings likely won't matter to most potential buyers.
What probably will matter, however, is its price. At US$199.99, it's $100 cheaper than the ContourGPS and $300 less than the Contour+. It still shoots in 1080p, however, while being dunkable and offering about 30 minutes more battery life. If you can get around the lack of being able to see your shots before they're recorded, or to swap batteries, the ContourROAM sounds like a pretty good deal.