Camcorder & Action Cam Reviews

REVIEW / Contour ContourGPS

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Last updated: June 26, 2012  
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Edouard Maire Published on June 26, 2012
Translated by Hugh Ehreth

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Format MPEG-4/H.264
  • Sensor CMOS NC
  • Zoom 0 x
  • Focal length in 24x36 135° in 720p, 110° in 1080p
  • Image stabilization No
  • Dimensions 95 x 58 x 34 mm
The ContourGPS is an HD mini-camcorder built to film extreme sports. As you may have guessed from the name, it has a GPS receiver that tracks your videos in real-time via Google Maps.


Handling


The ContourGPS wasn't designed to be held like a regular camcorder; it attaches to your helmet, bike, surfboard, car or airplane and so on, and shoots... with no one behind the wheel, so to speak. The rails on either side of the body allow it to slide onto an adhesive mount which you attach onto the object you want it on.

With no viewfinder or LCD display, you're basically filming "blind". Instead, the lens automatically rotates to retain a horizontal field of view and two red lasers guide the lens to self-adjust the angle. That way you can leave the ContourGPS to it while you focus on your jumps and swerves. The 110° wide-angle lens is large enough to catch most of what passes in front of you and to the sides.

The sturdy, brushed-aluminium body protects the camera from shocks and the large Record button on the top makes it easier to start filming in the heat of the moment, even with huge, snow-covered gloves on. The body is waterproof for kayaking, kite surfing, wakeboarding, etc., but it isn't entirely submersible (see inset).

Contour casque Contour laser
The ContourGPS is designed to be attached to helmets, bikes, vehicles and whatnot The lasers are what allows the ContourGPS to automatically adjust the positioning of its lens

The ContourGPS comes with a variety of adhesive mounts for several types of surface. The only problem is getting the mounts off once they're on, because they really stick like the devil. Removing them takes care because it's all in plastic; so you definitely wouldn't want to force them with the camera attached. The battery recharges via a USB cable and the video files save onto a microSD card, the same type you find in smartphones. In Full HD resolution you can store 35 minutes on a 2 GB card.

Contour microsd Contour rec
The video saves onto a microSD card (we would have preferred an ordinary SD card) The large Record button lets you kick off the recording even with big gloves on


Video Quality

 
While it films in Full HD, the image quality isn't the same as what you'd get with an ordinary AVCHD camcorder. Our lab tests showed a lack of sharpness, dull colours and poor sensitivity in low lighting. But when watched on a computer the image looks perfectly fine because, after all, it is HD: 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30 frames/second. It can also film in 720p (1280 x 720 pixels at 60 frames/second). The 110° wide-angle lens covers a large field of view as you slip and slide down the slopes. There's no zoom, but that would be useless anyway because you're not actually handling the camera while filming. In 720p the angle is even wider (135°), which naturally distorts the image a bit, but still captures your speed to a T.

Contour image1 Contour image2
The ContourGPS attached to the fender of my car (1080p at 110°) Attached to the roof

The ContourGPS has a GPS receiver that saves your geolocation data while you film. The software on the camera automatically installs on your computer and plays your videos with a Google Maps map right to the side of the image. The route you take (whether on the road or on the slopes) appears in real-time alongside the video. This is certainly a plus for airplane pilots (for recording flight paths), motorcyclers, joggers, etc. You can also share your videos and their GPS maps with friends online simply by signing up for free on the Contour website.

Contour maps
The Google Maps map playing in real-time alongside the video

Waterproof case (up to 60 metres)
The ContourGPS is waterproof, but it's non-submersible. To film underwater you need to buy the waterproof case (not included).

This allows you to go up to 60 metres below water and still have all the same features on the outside of the case (ON/OFF, Record, guiding lasers, battery/memory card gauge). You start recording by sliding the same button and attach the camera using the same rail system. There's also an 8 mm hole for screwing the camera onto a tripod. Price: £29.69.

PROS

  • Integrated GPS
  • Waterproof/shockproof body
  • Wide-angle lens
  • Large Record button
  • Automatically rotating lens

CONS

  • No viewfinder or screen (framing can be difficult)
  • MicroSD card (not included)
  • Medium image quality for Full HD

CONCLUSION 3/5

All in all, we like the ContourGPS. The handling has been well thought-out (with a large, easy-to-use Record button), the mounting system is simple and the body is super-sturdy. The image quality didn't hold up in our lab, but for sharing your daring online it will definitely do the trick. However, we do wish it took an SD card, instead of microSD.
3 Contour ContourGPS Digitalversus 2012-06-26 16:00:00

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