Contour's HD camcorders have been among our favorite action cameras since the original ContourHD was launched three years ago. However, the old ContourHD (while still a good camera) is getting a bit long in the tooth. So, we're pleased to hear that Contour's entry model is up for replacement. Meet the new kid on Contour's block, the ContourRoam.
Let's start with the important bit: the lens. Where Contour's previous entry-level model packed a 135-degree wide-angle lens, the ContourRoam sees the world through an ultrawide 170-degree field of view, which brings it on par with the GoPro Hero cameras and Contour's own top-of-the-line Contour+.
Where the ContourHD's lens was flanked by twin laser pointers, the ContourRoam only has one laser. However, rather than emitting a single point of light, this laser emits a line of light that can be used to help level the lens when positioning. Speaking of positioning, the Roam's rotating lens assembly features a full 270 degrees of twisting articulation (up from the old camera's 180 degrees). This is good news for those who like to mount their cameras upside down. And speaking of mounting, Contour's rail-mounting system remains intact and is joined by a threaded tripod mount.
Around back, located on the back door, the ContourRoam features a status/laser button that illuminates the status LED icons for battery and available SD card space. Unlocking the door reveals the Mini-USB port that is used for charging and syncing data, the microSD card slot (card not included), and two tiny buttons for resetting the camera's settings and formatting the inserted SD card.
You'll notice that we haven't mentioned a power button. That's because there isn't one. To use the ContourRoam, simply push the record slider forward and the unit powers on and begins recording. Slide the slider backward to stop recording and turn the unit off. Contour claims that this not only makes the already simple-to-manage Contour camera even easier to use but also increases battery life by eliminating all of the standby time between recordings.
With the rear door shut, the ContourRoam has one trick up its sleeve that no other Contour camera before it could boast: an IPX7 waterproof rating. That means that the ContourRoam can be submerged for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter without ill effects. If you need to go deeper than 1 meter, there is an optional waterproof case that's good for up to 60 meters of submersion.
Software and features
Plugging the ContourRoam into a PC or Mac for the initial charging of the battery prompts the installation of the Contour Storyteller video-editing and organizing software, which is a free download from Contour's Web site.