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High Tech Head Gear - The Contour GPS Camera

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Hi-Def Mobil Mapper!
Written By: 
Pete Bengel

vendor.2011.contour.camera-gps-system.screenshot.jpgHave you ever gotten back from a ride and looked at a map to see where you’d been? And how many times have you been to a sweet ride spot but couldn’t remember where it was when you got home? Ever wondered what kind of speed you were carrying across the dunes or through a tight section of trail? At ATV&SXS Illustrated, we’re guilty of all three. At least… we USED to be!

This summer, we’ve been trying out one of the hottest “helmet” cameras on the market, the Contour GPS. The Contour GPS is a fully self-contained, High Definition camera that can capture full HD video in either 1080p, 960p, (both 30fps), or 720p (30 or 60fps), as well as 5 megapixel still photos. It features a 135 degree wide angle lens for a wide field of view with minimal “fish eye” distortion, and an internal adjustable microphone.

In the box with the Contour GPS is a 2gb microSD card, two flat adhesive mounts, a goggle strap mount, rechargeable lithium ion battery, and a USB 2.0 cable to link to your computer as well as charge your Contour’s battery. Contour offers a wide range of accessory mounts, and we opted to add a suction cup mount, handlebar mount, and roll bar mount to our assortment for a wide range of mounting options.vendor.2011.contour.camera-gps-system.mounted-on-helmet.jpg

The Contour GPS is incredibly easy to use, as are all models from Contour. For our first run with the GPS, we used the goggle strap mount. It is probably the easiest and least permanent of the Contour’s mounting options, but it did require us to tighten the goggle strap quite a bit to keep the camera tight to the helmet. Depending on the shape of your helmet, your camera may or may not sit perfectly level, but the Contour’s lens rotates easily to keep your videos plumb even if your camera isn’t. It also allows you to mount your camera horizontally. We also tried the flat adhesive mounts on our helmets, but it’s tough to find a flat mounting spot big enough to attach them firmly and still keep the camera aimed right where you want it. Overall though, we loved how the Contour GPS mounted nice and close to our helmets, which really cut down on unintentional branch hits that we’ve experienced with other cameras that stick out a lot farther. In case all hell DOES break loose, the Contour comes with a tether cord to keep your camera attached even if the primary mount fails.

Aiming the camera is really simple, and the Contour uses dual laser beams that show you precisely where the camera is pointed. That is a feature that we used frequently, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can also use your iPhone or Droid to see exactly what your camera sees in real time! This really helps when aiming your camera as a lot of people tend to set their camera perpendicular to their goggle lens, which ends up being way too low when you watch the playback. It also works handy for use as a spy cam!vendor.2011.contour.camera-gps-system.close-up.mounted-on-side-x-side.jpg

The functions on the Contour are nice and easy to use. We found that the power button at the rear of the camera can be a bit finicky, especially with gloves on, but the audible “peeps” would let us know when the camera was powered up. Once the fire is lit, the record/stop function on the Contour is super easy to use, and we LOVE the fact that it peeps at you loud enough to hear inside your helmet. Well… as long as you aren’t revving your ATV to the moon, that is. Moving the slide on top of the Contour forward starts the recording, and moving it back stops recording. The positive movement of the slide is easy to feel with your gloves on, and the peeps confirm that it has started or stopped recording. The camera also peeps a warning when the battery runs out (we got about 2.5 hours of powered-up time) and also when the memory card fills up. The Contour comes with a 2g microSD card, but we switched ours out for an 8g card and ran out of ride time long before we ran out of storage on our card! This brings us to a little tip that we’ll give you. We found that it works best to switch your record lever off and back on at several points during a long ride. This breaks your video up into smaller “clips” and keeps it from taking an INSANELY long time to move your videos to your computer!

The most fun part about watching our videos from our Contour GPS is, without a doubt, the GPS functions. Using Contour’s “Storyteller” software, you can upload and edit the videos from your camera. It also links with Google Maps to show you your position, elevation, speed, and route. You can also share your video online with the Storyteller software.
The Contour GPS is a great camera to have along on your motorcycle, ATV, SXS, or snowmobile excursion. Its long list of features, ease of mounting and use, and versatility make it tough to choose another camera, and we make sure ours is in our gear bag on every ride! For more information and in-depth specs on the Contour GPS, visit www.contour.com.vendor.2011.contour.camera-gps-system.helmet-cam.riding.on-track.jpg

What we loved:

  • Many mounting options.
  • Compact and easy to use.
  • Aim it with your iPhone or Droid!
  • Long battery life/high memory capacity.
  • Less distance/fisheye distortion than wider lenses.
  • GPS mapping!

What we’d change:

  • Rim around lens collects mud easily.
  • Power button tough to push with gloves.
  • Could use a “curved” adhesive mount.

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