Contour ROAM
At last... no wires.

[ Monday - March 12, 2012 ]

It's sad but true.  The VIO POV-HD is not living up to its VIO name.  I'm already having cord problems after just 7 months of use.  On the contrary, the VIO POV-1 survived three years, is falling apart physically, and still functions if I slap some 4xAA batteries in it.  The POV-1 cord is kinked in all manner of directions and the system still works.  Now that is what I call military grade tough.  As for the POV-HD, I would have kept using the system if I could have swapped out the cord (between the camera and the recorder unit).  Unfortunately VIO decided to make the cord integrated (at the camera end) instead of having a detachable/replaceable cord.  How disappointing.  At $600 for 7 months, it's a pretty bad investment.  I like the clock feature, but I can live without it if I can get a cheaper but functional system.

So off to the Internet I go to search for an alternate helmet cam vendor.  I know of Contour and GoPro as two possible contenders.  All other systems are just a joke.  I was introduced to Contour by my friend Marc a couple of years ago.  The unit looks good, but I don't like the side helmet mount.  The Contour units are pretty tall so I'm not sure if the camera can be mounted on top of the helmet.  GoPro's boxy unit doesn't turn me on at all.  The box shape makes me think I should just mount my Panasonic Lumix on top of my helmet and ride around instead.  Ugh!

Still I research further on the two vendors.  In the end, all of the queries and results related with the Contour show people out in the world recommending the Contour over the GoPro.  At $200 for the Contour Roam and a 10% off Motorcycle-Superstore reward coupon, the Contour Roam is coming into my possession at $179.  That's a steal compared to the $600 POV-HD sticker price.  Now I just have to figure out how to mount the camera and still maintain a decent perspective (e.g. no side of the helmet in the video footage).

I receive the Contour Roam in the mail, and then purchased 4 x 32GB San Disk micro-SD cards on Amazon at $28 each.  Best Buy wanted $90 for one 32GB micro-SD.  What is that about?

I started with the side mount for the camera and quickly found out, "I don't like it."  Next I started exploring the concept of mounting the camera on top of the helmet and discovered (via the manual), that you can actially rotate the lense +-90 degrees to get the camera view you want.  Perfect, that means I can mount the camera on its side on the top of the helmet.  As usual, I ditched all of the system's mounting hardware and used my own (e.g. Velcro hook and loops).  Now this is what I'm talking about...

I've never been one for following the rules in terms of camera mounts.

A mixture of the VIO POV mounting system and a lot of Velcro.

A little foam at the front to secure the camera from bouncing around during filming.
It makes for a lot smoother image.

The old POV-HD cable path is used for the Roam camera secure cable.

The video quality at 1080P low resolution 25 FPS, is pretty good video quality.  It's inline with the VIO POV-HD.  I know if I put the settings on 1080P high at 30 FPS, the quality will be the same as the POV-HD.  I actually like the lens on the Contour Roam better than the POV-HD.  The POV-HD gave more of a fish eye lens effect whereas the majority of the Roam's field of view doesn't have the same distortion.  The only draw back to the Roam, as compared to the POV-HD, is the ease of configuring the system.  To change the settings with the POV-HD, you simply flip through the menu and select what you want.  For the Roam, you have to connect the camera to a computer to change the settings.  That being said, how often do you change camera settings once it's decided?  I actually don't change the settings very much once I have what I want.  A lot of the time it more removing unwanted footage after a commute.

Knowing that the Roam can't be run from an external power source, at the low cost of $200 I might just purchase a second unit for long trip use.  One Roam is recording while the other is sitting in the tank bag charging away.  It's a concept that might just work out.

Here's a fun little right turn.

Proof that the Contour ROAM can handle abuse.  It's a 6' drop test.
This also shows magnets are not enough to keep the camera mounted.

Alright... here's the tech comparison between the Contour ROAM and VIO POV-HD.

Contour ROAM
SD Capacity
32 GB MicroSD
SD price
$27 (
$28 with SD adaptor (
Max resolution
Max video length
with 32GB @ 1080P
Approximately 4 hours @ 1080P medium 25 FPS
Approximately 4 hours @ 1080P low 25 FPS
Date stamp in video
Battery type
Lithium AA minimum
Built in Li-Ion
Battery life
4 hours
3 hours at 1080P low-res 25 FPS, about 2 hours at 1080P high-res 30 FPS
Battery indicator
Yes (4 notch on LCD display)
LED color encoding (Green, Yellow, Red)
Alt power source
Vehicle 12V power
Recharge source
NA (Uses AA batteries or vehicle power)
USB power source
Power connector
Micro USB connector
Time to recharge
80% in 1 hour, 100% in 4 hours
Cabled system with 6' cable
Built in recorder (no wires)
Recorder menu system
Need a USB capable computer an Contour software
Start/Stop recording
Remote wireless recorder system (can be attached to anything via hook/loop strap)
Large start/stop slider button on the camera body
Real-time image processing
Auto color correction
Auto contrast/brightness correction
XML video tagging
Clip mode or loop mode recording
Video preview
2" color LCD display
Weather protection
Fully waterproof down to 3 meters
Fully waterproof down to 3 meters
Vendor provided S/W
Firmware upgrade
Firmware price
$10 after first year
Not sure (unit is too new to tell)
Vendor video sharing
(I don't use this but I
know it exists)
Camera alignment tool
Painted mark on top of camera and LCD preview as reference
Laser beam projection

Written on: March 13, 2012
Last modified: March 14, 2012