There truly is very little say about the new ContourRoam2 HD action camera, because in this case, less is more. The camera keeps it simple and stupid for those people who hate technology, and that’s a good thing. The instructions are easy: take it out of the box, charge it up, insert a memory card, push the big round button on the other side of the camera to turn it on (no not the lens-side stupid), slide the switch on the top of the camera forward to record, and back to stop. Boom done!! But wow what a remarkable recording.
Over the last few years, there has been an influx of sports action cams that are meant to be attached to your helmet, surf board, or sports car, and for the most part, the offerings have been very good. However, each camera has been plagued by usability problems that simply frustrate the hell out of the people who buy them. GoPro Hero2 is a nightmare enclosed in an awkwardly protruding plastic case that utilizes a ridiculous set of finger routines spanning a total of 2 buttons. Nothing can be more frustrating after you risk your life going over a water fall, than to realize that YOUR CAMERA WAS NOT RECORDING!
The ContourRoam2 is so simple, even your 82 year old father could use it. Don’t worry about the lack of a view finder, just point the lens in the general direction of the subject and slide the switch forward, then back, and the result will leave him spell bound, rather than pissed off.
At the end of the day, the one thing you want out of a video camera is a full quality picture, and with that objective, the ContourRoam2 delivers, big time. Picture quality (5MP, HD 1280 x 720, HD 1920 x 1080) is on par with the Drift 1080p, and better than the GoPro Hero2, with minimal fish-eye distortion. The ContourRoam2’s sound quality is better than any other action cam I have reviewed.
Now at first, I thought the idea of no on-board configuration controls, was a stupid idea; because with the ContourRoam2, in order to change the shooting mode, you must attach the camera to a computer via USB. So if you are shooting in the field and want to change the picture quality or switch to single shoot (time lapse), instant on, you are S.O.L. The work around, however, is to simply plan ahead for your shoot.
Contour hypes the products durability and while I have not tested that aspect, I have to really wonder. Both the GoPro and the Drift product offerings, clearly look and feel like they can take a licking and keep on ticking, the grip and feel says it all. The ContourRoam2 resides in hard round metal cylinder that can slip out of your hands in a heartbeat, and if hits the concrete, it most likely will be compromised. The camera also claims that it is waterproof, but if the loosely fitting back door is jarred by previous hit, or if the rubber seal is wet before the back door of the camera is shut, I would be very nervous about taking a dive with it.
In summary, the ContourRoam2 boldly hits the mark with regard to smooth rolling, crisp video. The simplicity of operation is, hands-down-better than the GoPro Hero2 and Drift 1080p. Power on, power off, done, how simple is that? The lack of configuration change control, when you are in the field, is a bitch, but you can deal with it. I question the durability aspect of the product, even though it resembles a gun barrel. The ContourRoam2 does not come with GPS or Bluetooth, and that is a drawback, but then again, that's what you get with this bare bones action camera at this price point.