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Old December 28, 2010, 06:41 PM
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FlyingFish FlyingFish is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 483
Default Contour GPS Camera

I like skiing. And I like gadgets. A friend of mine told me about the GoPro (GoPro Official Store: Wearable Digital Cameras for Sports) but my ski instructor cousin told me about something much cooler: the Contour GPS. What the Contour brings to the table is an integrated GPS unit that allows the user to upload their image then follow along on Google maps showing the users speed and distance traveled while following the video.

When I opened up the box on Christmas day my response was "oh my god...*"

*Apologies to someone who may find this blasphemous.

The Contour comes in a minimalistic box, but is very well attached. It took me a few minutes to get this out of the box. Aside from the box the camera comes with a silicon lens cover, a lithium-ion battery, 2 flat surface mounts, a goggle mount, a tether wire, a generic USB A-minB cable, a quick start guide, and a 2gb Micro SD card.

The Vitals:

1080p Full HD at 30fps, 960p Tall HD at 30fps, 720p Action HD at 60fps and 720p Contour HD at 30fps.
Built in GPS Receiver.
Water Resistant Aluminum Shell weighing in at 5.3oz / 150 grams.
5 megapixel Still Photo Capture at intervals of 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds.
Expandable Storage - microSD Memory Capacity up to 32GB.
135 Angle of View in 960p and 720p, 110 in 1080p.
Newly Designed Omnidirectional Microphone.
Rechargeable Lithium Battery.
Multi Sport Mounting - package includes Goggle Mount, 2 Rotating Flat Surface Mounts and 2 Mount Tethers for camera security.
Works with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7; Mac OS X 10.5 and later.
180 day manufacturers warranty.

Having a Looksee:

The first thing you notice when you open up the Contour is how it looks. Unlike the Go Pro which looks like a toaster, the Contour has a sleeker appearance that looks better when you attach it to the side of your head. The Contour uses a rail system, akin to the kind you'd see on a rifle to attach to the mounting system. They also use this mounting system to attach it to the packaging. Judging by the effort required to remove it from the package, this rail system is VERY secure.

On the top of the camera is the large record switch. Contour has designed the camera to be very easy to operate even when wearing ski gloves. They clearly understand their target market doesn't want to have to fumble with a tiny record button.

When turning on the Contour GPS, a pair of lasers shoot out from the camera which allow the user to know exactly where the camera is pointing at. Since there isn't any room for a viewfinder on the Camera, this laser feature is very handy. Also works in a pinch for pretending to be the Predator, or a Borg when the camera is attached to your helmet.

A locking back cover is home to the power switch. Behind the cover is access to the battery, USB port, and memory card. Charging is provided via USB.

Lets Shooooooot:

Sadly since the last couple of days have been a washout here on the mountains in Vancouver, I haven't had a chance to get some ski footage. So instead here is a video produced by Contour.

Contour >> YES! It's a Movie by Contour

The Contour GPS shoots in several modes: 1080p @ 30fps, 960p @ 30fps, "Action720p" which is 720p @ 60fps (perfect for those slow motion moves) and 720p at 30fps.

The biggest draw of this unit is the GPS tracking. Currently you can only see the GPS data when you upload files to the Contour website. Contour is attempting to have their own youtube-esque community of Contour users and their software makes it easy to do this.

There's no onboard memory, but fortunately microSD cards are relatively cheap since shooting at 720p and high detail can fill the 2gb card that it came with in 30 minutes.

Interestingly enough this thing even takes still pictures at various intervals. You can choose intervals of 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds and get some interesting still pictures.

I think I know where I am right now:

Here is a video I shot of me driving to Capt. Vortex's house from a gas station. I conveniently get lost and end up nowhere near it so his identity is safe. This video was shot with the lowest quality settings the camera offers, but was done just to demonstrate the GPS on this unit.

Contour >> FILE0003 by galuple

On the Contour website, viewers can click anywhere on the map to see the video at that point of the route. Elevation and speed is also charted, however, Contour, being an American company has all the data in miles. Perhaps this will change in a future update for us Metric folk.

Mount Up:

The Contour GPS comes with a couple of mounting options: Two flat mounts for use on a helmet or a car dashboard, a goggle mount, as well as lanyards to ensure that if the camera falls off the mount the camera will safely smack you in the head instead of falling into the snow. (The users guide explicitly says that you shouldn't tether the camera if you're using it on a goggle mount or helmet mount.)

The helmet mount may look bad but it doens't look as bad as the GoPro.

The helmet mount looks dorky...

But not as bad as the goggle mount. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

Assault... and battery:

The ContourGPS has a battery life of up to 3 hours assuming you're shooting at lowest settings.

Snip Snip:

The Contour Storyteller program is a basic editing suite that allows you to import your videos and then upload them to the Contour website. Editing is rudamentary, allowing you to trim videos (but not splice). Sadly the software is the greatest flaw of the Contour as the software lacks basic features such as allowing the user to chose where to import their files to. Instead everything is imported by default to the C drive which tends to cause problems for those of us using SSDs. The software shows how Contour is a hardware company not a software company. Fortunately, they do the hardware really well.

Contour Storyteller is also used to tweak the camera's settings and adjust the shooting modes. The camera can be set for two shooting modes at any one time which means that you do have to set the camera up in advance.

Successorize Me!

Contour sells a bunch of extra mounting bits on their website. However they are a tad on the expensive side. An extra adhesive mount will set you back $25 on Amazon.


At $349 the Contour GPS isn't a product for everyone. It's intended for a niche audience and it fills that niche very well. Although the Contour is $50 more than it's Go Pro rival, it does offer GPS functionality and a streamlined better look, especially on your helmet.

-Compact size
-Lots of mounting options

-No way to look at GPS data except when videos are uploaded to the Contour website
-Lens cover keeps on falling off
-Storyteller isn't very good. However Contour has said they're working on the issue.
-Only two shooting modes can be preset on the camera at any one time.
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