So you want to buy a helmet camera… this Contour vs Go Pro post gives you the POV of our staff plus the rigorous testing results from Wired magazine’s April 2011 issue.
What Wired Says: The tech magazine gave the ContourGPS the coveted Editor’s Pick stamp and an 8 out of 10 rating, the highest of the 4 cameras tested: Vio POV.HD rated at 7, GoPro HD Helmet Hero rated at 6 and Looxcie rated at 3.
“Even before Contour brought GPS tagging to helmet-cams, the company had solved the most irksome thing about them: It replaced the Record button with a giant, glove-friendly slider switch. This 4.4-ounce cylindrical pod shoots 1080p at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 fps, and an upcoming smartphone app will let you use your mobile as a viewfinder and controller. Wired: Dual lasers project at the edges of the frame for aligning shots. Tired: iPhone users require a $30 ConnectView card for the app. Lens captures 110-degree perspective, but the short frame makes it tough to keep the action in view.”
What TMS Says: If we’re going on looks alone, Contour blows away the competition. The sleek, black aluminum package is far from its clunky counterparts. Plus, it’s only an extra $50 than buying the Go Pro Helmet Hero ($300), and its added GPS features and usability make it worth it. Plus, it’s super cool to see your line tracked on a Google map.
What Wired Says: Their rating of 6 dubs it a “solid product with some issues.”
“The original all-weather self-aggrandizer now comes in a 1080p model that can switch to 720p and 60 fps for slo-mo. It’s rugged, too. The included waterproof housing sheds snow, ice, and muck, and our test unit survived a 1,000-foot tumble off Telluride’s 13,320-foot Palmyra Peak. But the interface was the least intuitive in our test. Expect a lot of two-second movies of yourself angrily trying to change the settings. Wired: The 170-degree fish-eye mode is ideal for mounting on car hoods or ski poles to aim back at yourself. Tired: Requires a veritable erector set of swing arms and doohickeys for mounting. Is that readout Cyrillic or hieroglyphics or what? Adhesive mounts not so great in the cold (see 1,000-foot tumble).”
What TMS Says: Again, looks alone, the GoPro’s chunky square dimensions look awkward on a helmet, sticking up out of lift lines far and wide, screaming “Look at me! POV!” Included chest harness mount is cool for some sports, but misses the mark on most. Props on the included waterproof case; Contour also offers a ContourGPS waterproof case but it’s sold separately and it has not been released to the masses just yet (but you can pre-order it from us). (As of 2013 Tahoe Mountain Sports carries the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition and our opinion has improved about some of the new and improved GoPro mounts and accessories.
November 2011 Update: Contour has expanded it’s line of helmet cams, building on the success of the ContourGPS, compared to the GoPro below.
The new Contour Plus brings professional level features to the POV camera market, with a top-quality lens that offers a 170 degree ultrawide perspective, live streaming, external microphone connections along with everything that makes the ContourGPS great. Testers from outdoorgearlab.com said this: “With configurable camera settings, iOS / Android connectivity, GPS, etc, the Contour+ may more thoroughly satisfy the camera geek or tech-savvy user.”
And for anybody on a budget, the new ContourROAM offers the best value in hands free video cameras, period. It offers incredible image quality at a bargain price by leaving off a few bells and whistles. Outdoorgearlab.com gave it their best buy award: “It was a tough call to decide which one (vs. GoPro) got the Best Buy award, but ultimately it went to the Contour because of the better image quality which is same as the Contour+ which costs an extra $300.”
For more information on Contour vs Go Pro and the other helmet cameras tested, read the full Wired helmet cam reviews.
I’m Tahoe Mountain Sports’ web editor and a 6-year Tahoe resident. Yep, I live the life, with a lake view from my desk, lunch breaks on the beach with my dog, and morning powder runs when the snow’s good. I ski, snowboard, skate ski, and cross-country ski in winter, and hike, mountain bike, backpack, and lay around on Tahoe’s beaches in summer.