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Contour Roam2 review

Chris Finnamore
7 Oct 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
170
inc VAT

We like the design of the Roam2 and it's fairly good value, but we're not keen on plugging it into a computer to change settings and video quality isn't the best we've seen

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Specifications

sensor, 1,280x720 (60fps), 1,280x960 (30fps), 1,920x1,080 (30fps), 0.0x zoom, 145g

The Contour Roam2 is one of the best-designed action cameras we’ve seen. It doesn’t need any fancy watertight cases as it's already waterproof to one metre (although the £33 Contour Roam Waterproof Case will keep it dry up to 60 metres down) and it's incredibly easy to use.

Contour Roam2

Tough and waterproof, and great-looking, too

The camera only has two real controls. The button on the rear displays the memory card and battery status, as two LEDs coloured green, amber and red, and to start recording you just slide the switch on the top of the camera forwards. This also exposes a red recording light, so it's easy to see the camera is capturing video. A flap at the back of the camera slides up and flips open to reveal the Mini USB socket, microSD card slot and format button for the memory card.

Contour Roam2

A strong flap hides the delicate connections and slots

There's a downside to this ease of use, and that's the lack of controls for any of the camera's functions; if you want to change recording modes you need to plug the camera into your PC, install the Contour Storyteller application (which also requires QuickTime) and change settings from there. It's unlikely you'll be changing video modes all the time, as most people will leave the camera at the YouTube-friendly 1080p and 30fps, but having to plug the camera into a PC to turn on sequential still image capture is annoying. You can capture still images at intervals of 1, 3, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds, and switching to 720p video means you can record at a smoother 60fps.

We're fans of the Roam2's mounting system. Mounts slot into the grooves at the base of the camera, and this keeps it rock steady. The different mounts available for the Roam2 hold the camera at various angles, but the lens assembly rotates to compensate, locking into place at each 90-degree point with a clunk. Pressing the status button on the camera's rear will also turn on the alignment laser; this is a horizontal laser line which helps you get the image just straight, and is very useful considering the number of different ways you can mount the camera.

HPI Racing Bullet MT

The Roam2 mounted on our HPI Racing Bullet MT test vehicle

The camcorder comes with a pair of mounts as standard; one with a square base that rotates through 360 degrees and locks into place with a slider, and a non-moving rectangular mount. Both have 3M VHB material on the bottom, which is incredibly sticky. You can buy a further selection of mounts for the Roam2, from the £17 headband mount to £35 suction mount and various types of mount designed to attach the camcorder to a helmet.

During our off-road tests with an HPI Racing Bullet MT radio-controlled car, the Roam2's rigid stand stood it in good stead when protecting against wobbles. Thanks to the lack of play in its mount, this camera produced some of the steadiest footage we've seen; it wasn't up there with the smooth footage from the Sony HDR-AS15, but neither did it paint the sky a strange shade of turquoise like the Sony camera.

Speed run test - best viewed full-screen at 1080p

However, we weren't that impressed with the Roam2's video quality; there wasn't a huge amount of noise, but compression was evident in the video's lack of detail, and our static test footage looked underexposed and indistinct. The Roam2's video has a bitrate of 10,504Kbit/s, fully half that of the GoPro Hero3's highly detailed footage, so this goes a long way to explaining the quality difference. It does mean you'll fit more footage on a microSD card, but considering how a 16GB card will take over three hours of footage and cost £8, we'd rather have the extra quality.

Static test - best viewed full-screen at 1080p

There's a lot to like about the Contour Roam2. We're fans of the build quality, the versatility and rigidity of its mounting system, the laser alignment and ease of use. On the other hand, we're not so keen on having to plug into a computer to switch between video and photo modes, and video quality isn’t the best we've seen, especially when the camera is static. If ease of use and design is more important than outright video quality, though, the Roam2 is a good buy.

Basic Specifications

Rating****

Recording

Optical zoom0.0x
Digital zoom0x
Sensor pixels5,000,000
Widescreen modeletterbox
LCD screen size0.0in
Viewfinder typeN/A
Video lampNo
Video recording formatH.264
Video recording mediamicroSD
Sound48kHz stereo
Video resolutions1,280x720 (60fps), 1,280x960 (30fps), 1,920x1,080 (30fps)
Maximum image resolution2,592x1,944
Memory slotmicroSD
Mermory suppliednone
Flashno

Physical

Digital inputs/outputsUSB
Analogue inputs/outputsnone
Other connectionsnone
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery life2h 36m
Battery charging positioncamcorder
Size55x34x100mm
Weight145g

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£170
Supplierhttp://www.actioncameras.co.uk
Detailswww.contour.com

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