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on December 11, 2009
Update 9-16-2010 This is no longer their top of the line cam - the new one is based on this camera but includes a GPS and tags your images with location. You'll need their viewer to see the map movement as the video plays.
Update: 7-2010

Tonights episode of Dirty Jobs showed this camera strapped to a head strap for the host, Mike Rowe, who was 408 feet above the cement floor decending & window cleaning in Hawaii. Troy chickened out on the first 100 feet so alot of the contour HD footage made it into the show. By the 300 foot balcony they got troy on the ropes but his hair got snagged in the safely line and had to get his second "shearing" on Dirty Jobs - it was also filmed on contour HD cams 300' above hawaii. The quality was as good as the cable company could deliver in their 6:1 re-compression of HD. A full HD viewfinderless camera has value when you must get the shot.

using a sandisk 16GB microSD card and the maximum detail [1080P] + best quality I could get 3 hr, 6 minutes of video recorded with battery leftover. If you use the lower resolution setting the battery may be the limiting factor - I have not tried that yet.

I bought this to produce a bluray disc of a police helicopter team, using a gyro stabilized canon professional camera in back and wanting a 2nd angle up front. This comes with an adhesive patch that sticks to the side of the pilot's helmet to give a 135 degree wide field of view. The integrated rails on both sides permit the ultimate flexibility in mounting the camera, and second options for this cam are car mounts, etc.

The quality is GREAT. The lens is the downfall - there is some pincushion effect due to the inexpensive lens and wide angle. I'll deal with it for the price and the shots you can get with it, plus I can trim out the distortion in post editing.

One note - the output is .mov which is fine for macs, but for pc's you will need to transcode if you run premiere pro cs4 from adobe as it does not import .mov natively. Perhaps that is a good time to clip the edges where the bent picture is most noticable.

Another factor to like is the simplicity. With gloved hands you slide the top forward to record and back to stop, with a beep to start and and double beep to stop - it's very hard to mess up except for your horizon, which is why there are detents and lasers.

Detents and lasers?

Yes, - there are detents in the event you mount it on the right and left hand side of a helmet or rotate it in a mount. The 2 lasers can be turned on to tell you what is level with resepect to the imager. This is helpful when you rotate it but you must manually keep track of the bottom of the screen (below the laser points ) as you rotate it, otherwise your output will be upside down.

For the price, you simply can not beat it. Buy a 16 GB sandisk micro-sd card to go with it Sandisk 16GB Microsd Card Note that they have a low packaging option which the card is inside a plastic carrier and inside an ESD bag but no box or other trash with it that goes in the landfill - smart packaging.

One of the other great applications for this is taking HD video where you otherwise would NOT take your $3K camera - the beach - the water park - etc. You won't get the absolute best quality but you will get 1080 p hd that is playable on macs or pcs in native players!

Another great use is for children. It's easy to use, inexpensive, and highdef. For the kids who are beyond the toy grade cameras but not ready for a professional unit, this fills the gap. Adults will love its simplicity. On or Off - no fancy buttons to press, and everything complex is set while attached to the computer.

Finally there is my use - have a 2nd angle view for use with NLE systems. You can now do a/b video fades by time syncing the output from this camera with your primary cam. Be sure to expose something that will sync the two that gets recorded on both at the start of shootng.

I'm only deducting a star becuase of the pincushion effect of the lens. I realize for this price you are not getting an HD lens, and I realize that HD will show any defects, but a few more dollars in the lens would have made this 5 stars - it is oh so close. Be sure to pick up extra memory and batteries if you plan to use it at maximum definition because it makes some big files fast.
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on June 12, 2010
This camcorder is not really water-resistant or splash-proof. If it is splashed on, some water WILL get into the lens chamber through the gap between the lens protector and the rubber ring, fogging everything up and ending your fun for the day.

You can let the moisture out by taking the lens chamber apart(not a difficult task: just removing one screw). Based on my casual observation, I believe that it is unlikely that the moisture trapped inside the lens chamber can move further and reach key electric components to cause permanent damages; so technically you can call that "water-resistant."

However, if the lens is fogged up, the device becomes practically useless and it is hard to fix it in the field (better wait until you get home lest getting more water or dirt into the device).

An easy solution might be the VholdR 3300 Waterproof Case accessory. I just ordered one and will let you know how well it works.

I give it a four-star because I believe that Twenty20 was sloppy in designing the seal mechanism of the lens chamber. For a >$300 device, it is shocking that they attempt to use one cheap and not very tightly fit rubber ring to keep water out. They don't even bother to apply some silicon grease, which could have helped greatly in keeping water out. My $10 flashlight does better than that! In a nutshell, this device is not splash-proof and it could have been!

Although I give it a four-star, I consider ContourHD the best wearable camcorder on the market. Picture quality is very good and its operation is intuitive and simple.

Below I am also going to make a list of ContourHD's shortcomings. Please consider them more as a wish list since products from other companies are not doing any better.
(1) I was thinking about using it to record video during my long road trip, powered by vehicle power to USB adapter. It turned out that the device can't record video when connecting to power source or computer, and thus recoding capacity is limited by battery capacity.
(2) to be continued...
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on January 18, 2010
I bought this camera for recording for when I'm skiing up in Colorado mountains. When it works, the video quality is very good and especially in 60fps @ 720p it is very smooth. Microphone wind noise is there but it really isn't the camera's fault so it is okay. Mounting on goggle strap or helmet is straight forward (could be a little more secure) and operation of the camera is simple.

HOWEVER - I've been to skiing twice with this camera and in the morning this camera just doesn't want to turn on. I have two batteries, and I even kept one inside my inner pocket to keep it from getting cold but no dice. It does say the minimum operating temperature is 5F but even at 10F-ish I had to try turning my camera on at least 5 times to get it going. And even then, it would randomly shut off until it is "sufficiently" warmed up.

You'd think 5F is plenty low enough but if you are into skiing you will find yourself skiing way below that, and in that regards this camera is pretty useless.

I still recommend this camera for dirt biking, mountain biking and other non-cold sports.

EDIT - Let me clarify if you have the camera on before you go outside for skiing then it still works without any issues. The problem is that if you want to shut the camera off to preserve battery under cold environment - then it is very finicky about turning on. So the only workaround is to have the camera on before you walk out there in cold but that pretty much requires another battery since it barely lasts two hours when cold. So if you are going to use it for skiing I HIGHLY suggest you buy another battery right from get go (along with the 16 GB micro SD card, 2 GB just isn't enough)

EDIT2 - I sent mine in as RMA and they sent me a new one for replacement. We will see how this one does @ 5 F but as far as customer services goes, I have to say 5 stars out of 5 - if you are interested, buy with confidence - Twenty20 will take care of you. Very fast communication and shipping.
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on December 6, 2009
I just took this new camera out for a ride in the CA desert on my dirt bike today. Wow! The setup and ease of use is remarkable (all camera config is done via their easy edit software), the goggle mount worked just perfectly. You can use the software it comes with for simple cuts and montages and media management but if you want to edit on your own, the camera simply shows up as an external drive on a PC to pull off the video files. Image quality is great and more than what you need for the application - i'm using max data rate. Captured about 2 hours of footage on a charge - didn't need any more, i foresee the extra battery being essential for all day rides though. If you're capturing highest quality HD resolution at the max data rate you will need the 16GB card as well. The durability and features are fantastic - when it's mounted the laser guides help you dial it in perfectly so you know the direction/angle you are shooting before you head out. I'll have this camera out plenty in the snow as well!
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VINE VOICEon September 16, 2011
As if biking in a city wasn't awesome enough, this camera triples the awesomeness!

I finally got the chance to properly test this with the contour bike mount the other day, and the picture quality is really good! I recommend you check out gaz545 channel on YouTube for some really good examples of bike videos. His videos are actually what prompted me to purchase this item.

DESIGN/DURABILITY: The design is nice. Sleek but unassuming, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. I haven't thrown mine around or anything, but when mounted to my bike it seems steady and doesn't rattle or shift out of place or anything. The grooves on the side of the camera will fit into any compatible accessories such as the helmet strap and bike mount, both of which I have and recommend. The structure seems very solid and can probably withstand a few drops without getting damaged. Most of what you need will be accessed through the back of the camera (see photo) otherwise the on/off is on the back of the camera and the record button is a slide bar on the top of the camera. Quite easy to understand.

VIDEO QUALITY: There are a wide range of settings for video quality including "full HD" quality, which of course takes up more space than other settings. I chose my default setting to be 1280x720, which is YT's native quality for uploads. It can go higher than that and lower, depending on what you want. These settings generally can only be changed when the device is plugged into your computer so you can access the settings software. However, the good thing that was considered when this product was designed is there is a setting for "Hi" or "Lo" on the back, both of which you can set to what you want. (see photo) Presumably you won't be using a lot of settings, so find what works best for you and assign the switches to what you want. I've only used one setting (previously mentioned) and don't anticipate using any others. In sum, the quality is really good.

SOFTWARE: Comes free with the camera itself which is easy to access through the usb that is in the back (see photo). The settings are many, and the booklet that comes with the camera will give you a general rundown of all these settings. As I said before, my setting of choice is 1280x720, though it does go higher. My commute is about 25 minutes. On my default setting, it ended up being about 2gb. Other settings include setting the exposure and contrast. While this is nice, it is somewhat pointless because you cannot set it on the camera itself while on the road. For example, if it is sunny in the morning but then raining later on. There are some pre-set settings like morning and night, etc... but the camera seems to auto-expose anyway (within reason). It also comes with software in which enables you to share and upload directly to the Contour website, which is just a bit of a social tool that I don't plan on using. There's also settings for audio sensibility. I am still playing around with it to see what gives me the best setting.

AUDIO: The audio may be the weak point. As of now, I have usually mounted the camera to my handlebars, which produces weird particled noise when I go over rough surfaces, etc. The general city ambiance seems to pick up nicely though, and I had to set the sensitivity rather high for this. When testing it in my apartment, voices including my own were very soft on the default setting. I imagine that the audio will be improved if mounted to the helmet strap, where it will be free of jostling from the bike. Still, a very nice bonus to have audio capabilities.

BATTERY: Seems solid. I've gone for 30 mins straight and haven't ever run out of battery while on the road. Just remember to charge it each night, as well as dumpoing the files.

ACCESSORIES: Definitely buy a larger MicroSD card. A 2gb comes with it, but it won't hold very much. I'd suggest an 8 or 16... you can always dump the files each night so you don't have to go overkill unless you go on a huge bike ride and won't have computer access. I'd definitely recommend the bike mount or the helmet strap mount. Both are vital to the ContourHD experience.

It's really inexpensive for what you're ultimately getting, this is definitely an awesome buy for the everyday cyclist or adventurist that want to capture/archive some of their moments on video.
review image
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on September 20, 2011
Summary:
If you want the best video quality, get either a Contour+ ($499, the newest and greatest) or a GoPro HD Hero ($239+++, starting to show its age). Otherwise, nothing comes close to the ContourHD+waterproof casing at $170. You get way more than what you pay for, which is great!

Rest of the review:
While the Contour HD does not have the latest technology or the clearest image, what you get is still pretty decent video image quality. I got rather similar results in the day and at night, but so far I have only been using 720p60 and 720p30 as my recording modes.

Here's a sample of the videos taken at night, in a swimming pool lighted by floodlights:
[...]

The camera is able to accept a 32gb micro SD card but the card indicator light will stay red even though card is empty. This might be a concern for some since you can never know when the card is full without connecting the card to a computer.

The good:
1. The packaging has been redesigned. It is now in a much more shipping friendly box that is very compact.
2. Compatible replaceable batterys, desktop chargers available on Ebay at a discounted price.
3. Above average video omage quality at moments when you normally won't be able to record videos.

The average:
1. Gets quite warm after extended recording.
2. Unable to charge and record without leaving the back cover open.
3. Can only choose between 2 recording modes using the camera.
4. Camera mounts are pretty pricy.
5. Not very compact, especially when used with the waterproof casing.

The bad:
1. Side rails seems weak. I tried removing the helmet mount from the base by following the instructions given, and I almost broke off the side rails from the camera. Ended up using the waterproof casing rails instead.

2. The microphone is rather useless, especially in the waterproof casing. Setting the mic sensitivity to anywhere about 40 will result in lots of noise (the undesirable audio noise, similar to image noise in high ISO shots).

3. No time lapsed photo mode.
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on April 19, 2013
I will write both positive and negative comments about the camera.

Positive: On a trip to Maui snorkeling, I used the camera with the underwater case(sold separately) and got the most unreal underwater video I have ever seen...colors captured, resolution and depth were superb. This camera excels at underwater video in my opinion, and you will not be disappointed if you get this camera for this purpose.
Have also gotten some pretty good video on my motorcycle, although video I have seen from gopro seems to exceed this camera now.
One more positive was I had the camera mounted to a headband in my helicopter tour filming, while I took still and video with a sony alpha 700 slr and canon point and shoot with high zoom(the model is eluding me at present). The camera took pretty decent video, but was nothing compared to the color quality taken by the canon point and shoot.

Negative: On the same trip, mounted the camera to the bike using a separately purchased handlebar mount. Even with laser guided mounting aid, the camera recorded mostly pavement as I biked down the Haleakala volcano, which was a huge disappointment, and a major reason I bought the camera in the first place. Not having a LCD screen to assess how filming is happening is a major downside of this camera, as ability to replay video and adjust the camera in the middle of filming would avoid wasted time having to repeat activities on different days, which I did not do. Also helpful would be to have a wider angle to help compensate for any mounting inaccuracies).

Overall I would rate this camera 7 out of 10.
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on November 12, 2010
I got this camera about three weeks ago, and of course my computer broke down at the same time. The old lap top I was substituting couldn't hack the video requirments so I couldn't use it. I got a new computer and tried it today and it works pretty fair.
Let's get the gripes out of the way first ok?

The manual (that's a stretch) that comes with this thing is nothing more than a folded up leaflet kinda thing. For people not familiar or a bit challenged by newer electronics this could be kind of intimidating. For this kind of money I think a decent manual should be printed up in ENGLISH, with some clear illustrations. There are illustrations in the leaftlet that comes with it but it took me a couple of times reading it to make sure I got things going right with it.

The software is supposed to start up when the camera is first plugged into the USB port on your computer. Mine didn't start, not even on the new system. You can go to the website and download the software. I think the software is a real joke. There's not much there to edit it with, and no explanations or intuitive controls. Trying to figure out what it wanted me to do before watching the video was a bit confusing. Who thinks this crap up anyway? I finally figured out it wanted me to establish a library location. I hate trying to wade thru abbreviated help menus they get me mixed up worse than I was before. So if you are using Windows 7 just let it take care of downloading the video, does it with much less trouble.

My first video I mounted the camera upside down on an optional windsheild suction cup mount, that comes for about $27.00 extra in this kit with lots of other helpful goodies. Buy it if you can afford it. IF you are just mounting it as a helmet camera I think it has enough mounts to work for that without the optional kit.
I thought that righting the upside down video could be accomplished with the editing software. Well I didn't find that anywhere in the software. That's a bunch of crap too, because there are probably lots of times when the camera needs to be mounted upside down. This was just a test video shot in lower res. No big deal, it could have been a base jump that got screwed up because it was upside down. Well now I'll just try to figure out how to get it mounted right side up. I might build a new mount for it anyway.

The video the camera shoots is pretty good I think. The edges of it have a slight fish eye look to it due to it's field of view, no big deal to me. The camera worked just fine with ambient light ih the house (flourescent to boot!)

It's so small you can carry it in a shirt pocket and its light too. Fairly robust construction, the mounting faces are made of anodized aluminum. It's really a pretty amazing little piece of hardware. The controls are pretty straight forward. The back end of the camera slides down to unlock this plastic backing cover giving you access to the USB plugin, SD card and battery. You can change the resolutin from 720 to 1080 by sliding a little switch either up or down.

The camera is put into standby (on) by pushing on a button centered on the sliding back cover. There is a longer switch on top of the camera body that puts it into the recording mode or not. Pushing the sliding switch forward makes it record. Sliding it backwards turns that part off. The camera still remains on. I don't know if it automatically shuts off after a period of no use or not. I just shut it off, which is done by holding the main on off switch in for a couple of seconds.

The battery is charged like an ipod off your computer hot USB port. Pretty neat idea, charging the battery while downloading the video. You can also check a box on the software that will erase the video from the camera when it's done downloading it. That's cool.

Using it for video on sport bikes is a great idea I think! Behind the wind screen would probably cut down some on the wind noise. Up on top of a Harley the wind might make too much noise. I'm going to put it inside my pro street Olds Cutlass when I get it done. Mounting this camera inside a drag car would be just too cool! Inside any race car would be farm out. Hell I might even use it on my John Deere!

For the money it's a great little camera I think. It probably won't match a high end dedicated camcorder that also shoots HD, but you can't exactly strap a large camera onto the side of a helmet or hang it off of a window, mount it behind a wind screen on a sport bike or have it flopping around on the triple tree of your cruiser. The only advantage I can see to a larger lensed video camera is the lack of fisheyeing, a the periphery of the field of view.

If your computer is marginal in it's ram and processor speed you might not get the video to work smoothly or at all. My old lap top totally choked on it. Most new systems should run it fine with a gig or two of ram.

I like the camera a lot so far. Just make sure you read the mickey mouse manual a few time till you think you have it wired.
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on July 8, 2015
I have had this helmet cam for about 5 years now and multiple trips to Afghanistan...its held up decently over the years with the exception of losing the back piece that contains the power on button...
I got in contact with the manufacturer and they promptly sent out a replacement piece at no charge to me and it worked for a good while to allow me to finish my second tour. On my third tour it fell off again and after contacting the manufacturer again they stopped producing the piece I needed which was a bit disappointing but understandable. It still work with a little ingenuity involved with rigging it up to power on and off. If they still sold this version I would highly recommend it to others.
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on January 22, 2012
Fishermen are known for their tall tales. As an old retired guy it happens often that I catch a good one without a fishing buddy to document my catch. Thus I'm left often with a fishy tale and no evidence at all. So I decided to buy this ContourHD 1080p Helmet Camera hands free action cam. These devices are made for action sports, such as skiing or off-road riding. So using it to capture the "action" sport of fishing is a bit odd.

It doesn't have a mount that worked well on my fishing hat, and so I made one from a length of tie-down strap. My fabrication was a hat band that fits into the mount for goggles. After a bit of adjustment and some testing I had it so that it was taking video of where I was looking. I took it out on a maiden fishing trip and it worked great. With the large (16 GB memory chip) I was able to document about 2-1/2 hours of being skunked. Oh well.

There is no viewer but once I have it set up on my hat this is not necessary. The switch is convenient, but a bit difficult to operate while holding a fly rod in one hand. But with practice I will get better.

The picture was very good for my purposes and it met all my expectations in that regards. I gave it 4 stars as there are a couple of things that would make it better for fly fisherman. First a handy zoom operation would be good. When I'm fishing 30 or 40 feet away the 135 degree view angle covers so much water that it is impossible to see what's happening. On the other hand (it hasn't happened yet but I'm confident in this judgement) when the fish is near the net the wide angle is what one wants. Also, with the unit and its microphone mounted above my hat brim the sound doesn't work well ... so a detachable microphone (or wireless) that I could locate closer to my big mouth would help.

I bought this for the fun quotient and so far it has delivered.
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