Each recording mode also has three quality settings (high, low, and medium), automatic or user-set white balance, three metering modes (center, average, and spot), and adjustable contrast, exposure, and sharpness settings. Microphone sensitivity can be adjusted and GPS power and capture intervals can be set. GPS data is embedded in the MOV file that the ContourGPS produces, so you won't need to keep track of a separate metadata file if you want to archive your videos.
Still photos are captured at 5MP (2,592x1,944 pixels) at intervals of 3, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds.
Recording modes and settings are all adjusted using Contour's Storyteller software, which is a free download from Contour's Web site. Aside from tweaking settings and updating camera firmware, the Storyteller software can be used to download and edit captured video from the connected ContourGPS unit. You can trim the beginning and end from a video, keeping just the good parts, by tapping the new Awesome button at the best part of your video to initiate the trimming mode. On the video's timeline, selection handles will appear around the point where the button was pressed. Simply drag the handles to the points where you'd like the clip to begin and end and Storyteller will crop the video for you. When GPS capture is enabled, Storyteller can also parse and display that data on a Google Map with an elevation graph.
Once the video is edited, you can post it (or just the awesome part) to Contour's video-sharing community for online playback via Contour's player with GPS map and speed data intact. You can also export your edited movie as an MOV file for posting to other video-sharing sites like YouTube or Vimeo. GPS data can also be exported separately as a GPX, CSV, or TXT file for use with external GPS software.
Earlier we mentioned that the ContourGPS uses aiming lasers, so it's fairly easy to use without a viewfinder. However, the ContourGPS has a trick that's even more useful and accurate for framing shots. After pairing the ContourGPS with an iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth, you can install and launch a Contour application that turns the handset's screen into a viewfinder. This connection is not full-resolution and the frame rate is more akin to a slideshow than a video feed, but it's good enough to use for a few seconds at a time to make sure that the ContourGPS is pointed and oriented the way you want it before recording.
From the Contour app, you can also adjust the settings of the two user modes and select one or the other on the fly. The unit is able to pair with an Android phone out of the box. However, to pair the ContourGPS with an iOS device (iPhone 4, iPod Touch), you'll have to purchase and install a Contour Connect View card ($29.99).
It's no secret that we're fans of the top-of-the-line Contour+ sports camera; we gave it our Editors' Choice Award, after all. However, when we reviewed that camera, we recognized that its $500 price and feature set put it just outside of the comfortable reach of the average user. For the rest of you, the $350 ContourGPS is the camera we'd suggest. It does most of what the Contour+ does for about $150 less ($120 less if you're an iOS user and need the $30 Connect View card to add Bluetooth connectivity).