Impressions and Usage
The camera only comes with a low profile and two rotating mounts, while the more useful vented helmet is an optional accessory. I found that the rotating mounts, which have a neat lockable feature, were useful for any helmet that might have enough surface area for one. They were especially useful for non vented or low vent count helmets, such as ski, full faced, skateboard, BMX and some All Mountain designs. The vented helmet mounts have a small amount of pitch control, so the camera can be tilted up and down. The handlebar mounts works decently once it’s set up properly, and the ball and socket system let you point it just about anywhere. The new flex strap mount is pretty ideal, is simple to install, and fits in a variety of places on the frame of the bike, and opens up a slew of unique perspectives for video footage.
The TRails mounting system is pretty easy to use, just line up the male and female parts, and push the camera backwards until it reaches the front stops. There is some subtle inherent sloppiness in the system, which is difficult to get rid of, and rough trails and loose helmets, exacerbate the issue. The latest iterations of the camera and mounts have tightened up the tolerances, and the issue has been greatly improved. For additional safety in case the unit falls off, each of the mounts has a lanyard that snaps into an accompanying one on the camera, although I rarely have ever used the system, and threading the cord through the mount and camera holes is sort of difficult.
Contour App on iPhone
NOTE – Contour App and mobile devices: To make use of the mobile app, you’ll need to install the Contour App on the iOS or Android smartphone or mobile device, and then pair the camera and device via the Bluetooth connection. The Contour App is compatible with iOS v 4.2 and above (not 5 as yet) for iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation) and Android OS v 2.2.1 and above. The iOS 5 works for the viewfinder, but changing any settings causes the Contour App to crash, so they will be releasing a new version shortly.
To turn the camera on, just push the rear power button, and it announces that it’s alive with a loud and distinct beep, which was easy to hear no matter what the outdoor ambient noise level was like. The front indicator light will blink green if GPS is engaged, and will turn steady, once the satellites are acquired, which can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or two, to get the required four-satellite lock. To check the horizontal alignment for proper video recording orientation, bring up the Contour App on your smartphone or mobile device, and push the Bluetooth button on the front of the slider. Using the viewfinder on the mobile device, just point the camera at a stationary object that has a good horizontal or vertical orientation, like a tree, log or your finger held in front of the camera, and then watching the screen, and rotate the lens until the object matches up with the proper horizon. The frame rate for viewfinder is slow, so it can be jittery and lag, but it works fine for the aligning purpose. Since they have forgone the Laser sighting, if you forget your mobile device, you’ll need to guesstimate the proper spot for the lens. You can also bring up the configuration screens for Position 1 and 2 settings, allowing one to alter Video (mode, quality, frame rate), Audio (Mic, camera beeps), GPS, and Lighting (metering, contrast, sharpness, exposure).
To begin the recording, just push the slider towards the lens, and it beeps once, and the front indicator light turns from green to red, along with the REC light by the back of the slider. To stop recording, push the slider away from the lens, and it beeps twice. The loud beeps and mechanical nature of the recording switch were very intuitive and reassuring, and inform you of exactly what’s transpired, and if needed a quick check of the switch’s position quickly assured you of its status. I give extremely high marks to the Contour+ for its usage factor. After you get everything set up it is pretty easy to reach up on your helmet and turn the camera on or off, slide the record button, all with the reinforcement of the nice loud beeps as things go on or off. The rear on/off button was less distinct when wearing gloves, but the loud noise it made, more than made up for it. The camera has a customizable automatic shutoff timer if the camera is idle (not recording), and it beeps twice as it powers down. While it was on my head, I did notice the additional weight, but it wasn’t significant, and after riding any distance it slowly disappeared and wasn’t noticeable. It doesn’t stick up in the air as much as the toaster oven camera, but it still got whacked by trees. I really liked the 270° rotatable lens, so that the camera body can be used in a larger variety of positions.
Although the Contour App interface won’t let you delete individual files on the microSD card, at least there is now a format button to clean the card off completely, just in case you forgot to remove files at home. The internal Mic is still not the greatest for good recording, but with the new external microphone capabilities, you now have some great opportunities for more advanced and higher-quality audio.