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ContourHD 720p HD Helmet Camera review: ContourHD 720p HD Helmet Camera

ContourHD 720p HD Helmet Camera

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
5 min read

The ContourHD is a tube-style camcorder designed to be worn as a helmet camera for recording extreme activities. The ContourHD features an attractive design, but a limited feature set. Unlike the competition, it doesn't feature a still photography mode or a viewfinder, optical or digital. But what the Contour lacks in bullet-pointed features, it makes up for with fantastic performance, as it is one of the few helmet cams on the market to record in 720p high definition.


ContourHD 720p HD Helmet Camera

The Good

The ContourHD records high-definition video at 720p. Laser sights and a rotating lens help to aim the camera while mounted without the need for a viewfinder. Simple, one-handed operation and the included 2GB microSD card and rechargeable battery make this one of the most easy-to-use helmet cams we've tested.

The Bad

The unit is not waterproof or submersible. Low-light performance is poor.

The Bottom Line

While not as rugged as its competition, the ContourHD features video quality and user-friendliness that is far better than any other helmet cam that we've tested.

The ContourHD measures 3.75 inches long by 1.34 inches wide and is 2 inches tall. Overall weight of the aluminum bodied camera is 4.3 ounces, which is important for a device that's meant to be strapped to your head.

Starting at the business end, the ContourHD features a lens assembly that can be rotated 192 degrees to accommodate different mounting orientations. The ContourHD doesn't feature an LCD or optical viewfinder, but flanking the lens are a pair of red laser pointers, which help to aim the device and serve as secondary indicators of the lens' orientation.

The lens itself is a tiny, wide-angle bit of glass. It offers a 135-degree viewing angle when recording HD video. When recording SD, the viewing angle reduces to 90 degrees due to the cropped aspect ratio. Moving to the top of the unit, we find the large recording slider. Operation couldn't be simpler: move the slider to the front of the camera to record, slide it back to stop.

Behind the rubber cap, you'll find the SD card and the battery, as well as the SD/HD switch.

The back of the unit is covered by a rubber cap that integrates the battery status light, the memory status light, and the power button. Sliding the cap out of the way reveals the Micro-USB port, the HD/SD switch, the battery slot, the charge indicator LED, and the microSD card slot.

The unit ships with a rechargeable lithium ion battery, a 2GB microSD card, and a USB cable. Up to 16GB SDHC cards are supported. Connecting the ContourHD to a PC or Mac using the USB cable allows users to download their videos and charge the battery. Estimated battery life of a full charge is about 3 hours. Recharging takes about 4 hours.

Also in the box are a goggle strap mount and a flat-surface adhesive mount, which attach to the rails on either side of the ContourHD's body.

Recording video is the ContourHD's only feature. Unlike the competition from GoPro, there is no still photography mode.

In fact, there are only two settings: HD and SD.

Recording in HD takes full advantage of the ContourHD's 135-degree wide angle lens with its wide-screen format. Video resolution is 1,280x720 pixels captured at 30 frames per second (fps). Video is saved as a MOV file with h.264 video encoding with AAC audio encoding. At this resolution, VholdR claims that the ContourHD will capture 30 minutes per gigabyte of available storage. So the packaged 2GB card should hold about an hour's worth of video.

Flipping the HD/SD switch to SD crops the viewing angle to a 4:3 aspect ratio and lowers the captured resolution to 854x480 pixels. As a concession, the frame rate is boosted to 60 fps, which is useful for capturing fast-moving objects without blurring. Also, the record time is doubled, so the included 2GB MicroSD card should now hold about 2 hours of video.

The windshield mount is one of the available accessories for the ContourHD.

The ContourHD's mounting rails--or TRails, as VholdR calls them--accommodate a variety of mounting options, such as the included strap and adhesive mounts. A universal mount adapter is available, which adds a threaded tripod mount, as is a high-quality suction-cup windshield mount, which is manufactured by PanaVise.

While the ContourHD's tiny lens limits low-light performance, video quality is quite good when the light is plentiful. Testing on a sunny California afternoon yielded naturally saturated colors and crisp details. Image quality was a bit too high contrast in the highlight and shadow areas, but overall we were pleased with the exposure.

On the subject of exposure, the ContourHD is a bit slow with its adjusting for rapidly changing light levels. For example, moving from an outdoor to an indoor environment left the ContourHD confused for a moment, as it searched for the proper exposure. As a camera designed primarily for outdoor use, this isn't too critical of a design flaw.

VholdR also offers its Easy Edit software for PC and Mac. When you plug your ContourHD up via USB for the first time, you'll be presented with a link to download the newest version of the software free of charge. The Easy Edit software will allow users to pull the MOV files off of the ContourHD, set video start and end clipping points, and share videos on VholdR's Web site.

What we liked the most about the ContourHD was its ease of use. The camera's limited feature set means that it is able to get by without cryptic menu settings or uselessly small LCD displays. Simply hold the power button until the unit beeps and slide the record slider forward. At no point did we have to consult the owner's manual, and we never botched a shot due to incorrect settings.

In sum
While the ContourHD is much better-looking than its competitors, it's also more fragile. The camera is splash resistant, but not submersible like the GoPro Hero or the ATC5K Action camera. The GoPro Hero is encased in a clear, plastic shell. So if, for example, the GoPro falls off of your car at the track, you just replace the $40 shell. Drop the ContourHD and you may be buying a new camera.

Additionally, the ContourHD is more expensive than the competition. With an MSRP of $299, it's about $100 more expensive than the GoPro Hero Motorsports Wide kit, which includes the PanaVise suction-cup mount (a $40 accessory for the ContourHD) and a variety of mounting brackets.

However, we believe that you get what you pay for. The ContourHD stands head and shoulders above the competition. Overall, we were thoroughly satisfied with the ContourHD's performance, high-quality design, and ease of use.


ContourHD 720p HD Helmet Camera

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 9