Contour+ video camera

Contour+ review: a video camera for extreme sports junkies

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Contour Contour+
  • Contour Contour+
  • Contour Contour+
  • Contour Contour+
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent video quality in daylight, good in low light
  • Very sturdy and light construction

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Smartphone app control can be finicky
  • Internal microphone is not built for speed

Bottom Line

If you're an action junkie, keeping track of your exploits -- whether it's for posterity or for bragging purposes -- should be high on your list of priorities. The Contour+ makes that task easy; it's a very convenient, very simple and very sturdy 'fire and forget' solution for recording video where weight and size are important factors. Apple or Android smartphone control is a great setup tool that comes at no extra cost, and about the only design flaw is the poor internal microphone. The Contour+ is pricey, but it's an investment we think is worth making for a really, really cool piece of tech.

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You can also use the app to see a live view of what the Contour+ is aimed at — it’s a very reduced resolution and only runs at about 5 frames per second, but it’s more than good enough for adjusting the camera’s orientation and making sure the horizon is straight. However, the app occasionally crashed in our testing, and the camera settings didn’t work until we updated the Contour+’s firmware to the latest version. With a little more work we think the Contour+’s app integration could be an excellent and unmissable feature. In its current state it’s still invaluable, but reliability isn’t 100%.

You can’t watch the Contour+ over Bluetooth while it’s filming, but you can output live 1080p video through the camera’s HDMI port. This is a feature that will probably only be used by broadcasters or videographers at something like the X Games, but it’s good to see it included.

The Contour+ has a built-in GPS, which can be enabled or disabled using the Contour app. It takes a couple of minutes to find a lock when you’re in a built-up area, but after that keeps a track of your location every second or so and saves it embedded with the video file. Recording location, elevation and speed, it can be viewed when you’re playing back video from the Contour+ in Contour’s Storyteller app for Windows and Mac OS X. It’s not pin-point accurate, since there’s always a degree of error in GPS tracking, but it provides a pretty close approximation and works well in sync with Google Maps to track your actions.

Contour+: Video and image quality, setup, and performance

We stuck the Contour+ on top of a car and drove around to test the camera in different lighting conditions — midday, dusk, night and during rain. Yes, yes, we know — this isn’t as extreme as the Contour+ is intended for, but we’re busy people and we’re no good at sport. Anyway, if you speed the video up you can pretend we’re race car drivers. We used the Contour app over Bluetooth to adjust the lens’ rotation and tweak video settings. We did miss the horizon alignment lasers that other Contour cameras have built in, but these aren’t a big deal.

The Contour+ is able to record 1080p video in excellent quality given its diminutive size. 720p mode is less detailed as you’d expect, but the benefits of the wider field of view are immediately evident. We think the 1080p setting was just fine for our on-car testing, but the wider 170 degree angle would come in handy on top of a bike helmet or surfboard.

The 1080p mode records in either 25 or 30 frames per second, while the 720p mode includes these as well as a 50/60fps mode. There’s also a 4:3 ratio 960p resolution (25/30fps), and a time-lapse still capture mode that takes 5MP photos with a variety of intervals.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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