We've often praised Contour's line of sports cameras for their ease of use, but with the announcement of the ContourRoam, it's about to get even easier.
The Roam fits into the entry-level position in Contour's camera lineup, just below the Contour GPS and replacing the ContourHD 1080p, which should be phased out shortly. At first glance, the Roam doesn't appear much different than the ContourHD (or any other Contour camera for that matter) but closer inspection reveals a few new features.
For starters, there is no power button. Where previous models needed to be powered on before operation, Contour has combined the ContourRoam's power management into the record slider that sits atop the camera barrel. Simply slide the switch forward and the camera powers up instantly and begins recording. This not only makes the camera easier to use, but according to Contour's spokesperson, it should also extend battery life because the Roam doesn't waste juice sitting in a standby mode between recordings.
On the door at the tail end of the unit where the power button used to be now sits a status/laser button that illuminates a pair of status LEDs for the battery state and SD card space and activates the aiming laser just above the lens. Behind that locking door is a Mini-USB port for charging and syncing and a microSD card slot. There's also a reset button for clearing the unit's settings and a format button for wiping the SD card (useful for those times when you've forgotten to clear the memory between shoots).
The ContourRoam's chassis is waterproof and is able to record while submerged up to 1 meter for 30 minutes with no ill effects. This is a first for any Contour camera, as the previous models require an external shell to be used in and around water.
Where previous Contour cameras use two lasers for aiming and orientation, the ContourRoam has a single laser that casts a line rather than a pair of points. The camera itself is rotatable with 270 degrees of articulation and now features an ultrawide angle lens with a 170-degree field of view (like the top of the line Contour+). Five-megapixel still photos can be captured at timed intervals and video is still captured at a user selectable 1080p, 960p, or 720p at 30 fps, but the 720p/60fps setting is missing at this entry level.
We noted that a user-replaceable battery, the capability to specify two recording presets, and Bluetooth connectivity to the Contour smartphone viewfinder app are missing from this entry-level model. Also missing is about $50 off of the old entry-level MSRP, as the ContourRoam will cost $199 when it goes on sale today.