Contour Roam2 Review

For basic POV filming the ROAM2 passes the test, although there isn’t any standout feature to set it apart from the rapidly expanding choices for compact, mountable video cameras.
For basic POV filming the ROAM2 passes the test, although there isn’t any standout feature to set it apart from the rapidly expanding choices for compact, mountable video cameras.
For basic POV filming the ROAM2 passes the test, although there isn’t any standout feature to set it apart from the rapidly expanding choices for compact, mountable video cameras.

Highs

  • Simple and no-nonsense use
  • Rotating lens with laser leveling
  • Solid construction
  • Automatic exposure and white balance settings performs well

Lows

  • Settings must be changed while plugged into computer
  • Lacks manual control
  • Included mounts are adhesive based

DT Editors' Rating

When you’re about to take off on that downhill on your snowboard or mountain bike, the last thing you would want to fool around with is the POV cam that’s attached. Contour’s Roam2 is designed to be dead easy to operate – just aim and shoot. The camera takes care of recording high-definition video while you concentrate on avoiding the obstacles in your path. However, is this simple design alone enough to justify the cost, when there are other camcorders that offer a lot more features?

Features and design

The Contour Roam2 ($200) is what we would describe as a basic POV camera. Take it out of the box, mount it to your helmet/bike/kayak/airplane/motorcycle/jetpack, and start filming. Although only two mounts are included with the camera, they should provide you with a variety of options for angles, especially when you take advantage of the rotating lens assembly, which is one of the highlights of the camera. The rotating lens allows you to properly align the image frame no matter how convoluted or crooked your mounting job is and the built-in laser level is simple to use and does a good job confirming that your frame is horizontal and straight (although you may have to flip the video in post-editing since there is no indication of the frame’s vertical orientation). The casing is waterproof, too, so you can take it into the snow or water (although a waterproof case is available for extra protection).

contour pov lens macro

The barebones nature of the camera makes for mistake-free shooting: slide the locking on/off switch forward and you’re recording, slide it back and you’re back to standby mode. A beep indicates that you’re recording and two beeps let you know that the camera has stopped. There’s no LCD, hence, one issue that arises is the camera settings cannot be changed without connecting the camera to your computer (and using the downloadable Contour Storyteller application). Although the basic settings are fine for most uses, it was not great to know that you could not stop and take a still picture without going home and updating the settings, or that once the still image mode was engaged you could not shoot video. The photo mode is also only available in continuous shooting, taking a single picture at set intervals between one photo per second and one photo every 60 seconds – our advice is to stick with the video mode.

While simplicity may be the Roam2’s end goal, this pared down version lacks some of the user controls of Contour’s +2 model ($400), which is a similar camera in look, feel, and operation, but offers the bonus features of GPS to add geotagging, external inputs for mic and HDMI, and Bluetooth for wireless operation and setup via an iPhone or Android device (a nice plus since it compensates for the lack of an LCD).

Inside the box

The Contour ROAM2 camera package includes a 4GB MicroSD card with an SD card adapter, a profile mount, rotating flat surface mount, USB 2.0 cable, lens cap, and camera sleeve.

Performance and Use

To test the ROAM2 we took it out on a road bike ride in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado. We didn’t want to immediately apply the camera mount until we were satisfied with the positioning, stopping several times to shift the angle. The ROAM2, however, performed well in each of the positions we used. It would be nice to adjust the settings on the fly, but its automatic exposure and white balance settings performed well in the challenging lighting of late-day strong sun and diffused light in the trees on the climb. On the descent, clouds had begun to build and the camera held decent contrast and image quality in the flat, dying light.

The resolution of both video and still photos is sufficient for online use, especially with the most basic of post-processing in Adobe Lightroom (or your chosen video or photo editor). Because there isn’t any in-camera noise reduction, images do require some software-based finessing; unfortunately the Storyteller application is only a file manager – it does not have any editing capabilities. The look of the photos straight out of the ROAM2, however, falls short of an iPhone or the most basic of point-and-shoot cameras. The videos appear to have more in-camera processing applied, so they are sufficient for sharing online or over e-mail; we viewed the videos on a 27-inch display and quality was generally good, although you’ll notice the artifacts in full-screen mode.

Although the camera is a little bigger than the basic settings would seem to require, the solid build quality was reassuring when we had it taped to various parts of the bike frame. The rotating lens (270 degrees available) means that as long as you can mount it in front-to-back alignment with your intended framing, you can spin the lens, activate the laser leveling, and know with confidence that the frame will be flat. The wide-angle lens and 1920 x 1080 resolution mean that your frame will capture all you want to see without too much distortion and that you can crop in to isolate a tighter framing if so desired.

The included 4GB microSD card is a decent starter, capturing about 30 minutes of footage at the highest resolution or just less than that in the Action HD mode (60 frames per second at lower resolution to allow for slow motion playback). If you’re going on longer adventures, definitely grab a higher capacity card before launching yourself up or down the mountain. A small colored indicator light keeps you in the know about remaining memory and battery life. The ROAM2 features a built-in battery that is stated to last more than three hours while recording. Obviously, with the included small memory card that is more than sufficient. Over a week of use, we only charged the camera while downloading clips or changing the settings, but we never reached the red zone on the indicator.

Conclusion

For basic POV filming the ROAM2 passes the test, although, outside of the rotating lens, there isn’t any standout feature to set it apart from the rapidly expanding choices for compact, mountable video cameras. Definitely check out the available mounting options to find the correct mount or one that allows for multiple placements. If you are looking to buy a camera and immediately get your adrenaline pumping without reading a manual or mucking around with a bunch of settings, the ROAM2 is basically ready to go straight out of the box, but don’t expect other options beyond that.

Highs

  • Simple and no-nonsense use
  • Rotating lens with laser leveling
  • Solid construction
  • Automatic exposure and white balance settings performs well

Lows

  • Settings must be changed while plugged into computer
  • Lacks manual control
  • Included mounts are adhesive based
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Home Theater

Any night can be a night at the movies with the best home theater projectors

Are you sick and tired of those cumbersome big screen TVs? Don’t want to spend big for a huge TV? These home theater projectors will bring you that big screen experience without breaking the bank.
Gaming

Get a new Nintendo Switch? You'll need to grab these accessories

The Switch is a capable console right out of the box, but it has its limitations. Thankfully, these Nintendo Switch accessories will allow you to make the most of Nintendo's latest console.
Mobile

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Photography

Paper designs digitize in real time using an Illustrator-connected paper tablet

Love graphic design, but prefer the feel of real paper? The new Moleskine Paper Tablet - Creative Cloud Connected syncs with Adobe Illustrator in real time, turning paper sketches into digital drawings.
Photography

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.
Computing

Make the most of your toner with our five favorite color laser printers

Color laser printers have improved dramatically over the years, and today's models offer both blazing print speeds and great image quality. Here are our favorite color laser printers, from massive all-in-ones to smaller budget options.
Photography

Sony’s latest sensor is stacked, backlit, and equipped with a global shutter

Say this five times fast: Backlit, stacked, global shutter sensor. Sony managed to cram all three technologies into one sensor. The result is a high-speed sensor with a higher resolution without sacrificing low-light quality.
Mobile

You can now use the innovative Red Hydrogen One on Google Fi

The Red Hydrogen One was first announced in 2017 and has been delayed a few times since then. Now, the Red Hydrogen One is finally available, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
Photography

Looking to keep prying eyes at bay? Here's how to hide photos on your iPhone

People take tons of photos using their smartphones, but not all are meant to be shared or seen. Luckily, hiding photos on your iOS device is easy, whether you want to use built-in utilities or apps with added security.
Cars

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Product Review

What do you do with 187 megapixels? The Lumix S1R is glorious overkill

The Lumix S1R is one of the most capable cameras ever made, from its robust build to extensive feature set. But its key feature, a 187MP high resolution mode, is something few customers will have use for.