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ContourRoam Hands-Free HD Camcorder review:

ContourRoam Hands-Free HD Camcorder

Recording modes and settings are all adjusted using Storyteller. Aside from tweaking settings and updating camera firmware, the Storyteller software can be used to download and edit captured video from the connected Contour 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 automatically crop the video for you.

The ContourRoam has three video recording modes, a still photo capture mode, and an array of options for each.

Full HD mode captures 1080p (1,920x1,080-pixel resolution) video at 30 frames per second. Tall HD captures at an odd 960p (1,280x960-pixel resolution), also at 30fps. Original HD steps down to 720p (1,280x720 pixels) at 30fps. Missing from the Roam is Contour's Action HD setting that would have captured 720p video at 60fps--that setting has been omitted to keep price down. All of these video modes are for the NTSC standard, but the ContourRoam can also be set to record PAL video at 25fps.

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.

The still-photo mode captures 5MP JPEGs (2,592x1,944 pixels) at intervals of 3, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds.

In sum: Performance and quality
Interestingly, the ContourRoam seems to crop the first and last second or so of a recorded video automatically, which all but eliminates the need to trim the shot of your hand reaching in to start and stop the recording.

Also, because the Roam is missing the Bluetooth connectivity and dual recording modes of the ContourGPS and Contour+ cameras, the only way to change recording modes is with Contour Storyteller, so there's no way to switch between video and photo modes while recording in the field--unless you bring along a laptop.

Low-light video was a bit grainy, but this is a camera for the outdoors. Video shot in sunlight (even on overcast days) was crisper and more colorful.

The quality of video recorded using the ContourRoam is quite good, but there's a slight graininess in low-light situations that isn't present in video recorded on the Contour+. Then again, at an MSRP of $199 ($50 less than the old entry-level model) comparing the ContourRoam to the $499 Contour+ seems a bit unfair.

The combination of ease of use, durability, quality of video, and low cost makes the ContourRoam a great first camera for the budding action videographer.

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