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Whether your next great adventure is climbing mountains, riding jet skis, or even skydiving, the Contour+2 captures the fun. Priced at $399.99, the Contour+2 is comparable to the highest-end GoPro HERO3, but offers unique features in a sleeker, barrel-shaped package. Thanks to Bluetooth, for example, you can use your iPhone (or Android phone) to adjust camera settings, preview shots, and start and stop recording.
Like most action-oriented camcorders, the palm-sized Contour+2 has no viewfinder and only a few buttons. The “Instant-On” slider at top is used to start or stop recording without wasting battery life on standby, while plastic caps on the back cover the Micro-USB port (for charging and offloading footage) and mini-HDMI. The removable 1050mAh lithium-ion battery is good for up to 2.5 hours of recording to the micro-SDHC storage; a 4GB card is included, and it supports cards of up to 32GB.
While an iPhone-connected sports camera sounds awesome, in practice it's a bit burdensome. It’s very convenient for framing a shot or tweaking settings during breaks or less-vigorous activities. But add winter gloves or any amount of speed, and fumbling with the iPhone gets awkward.
Still, once paired, your iPhone displays what the camcorder sees, complete with GPS indicator, remaining storage, and camera settings across the top. The iPhone app worked great, but version 3.5.1 of Contour Storyteller for Mac crashed every single time we launched it on our mid-2012 MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Support wasn't much help, but we were able to narrow the problem down to a conflict with one of our other installed QuickTime extensions, which required us to log in as a different user in order to use the app. (At press time, Contour has updated the Storyteller software to 3.5.2.)
Our unique problem aside, Contour Storyteller is essentially iPhoto for movies taken with the company’s cameras. Users can do quick edits with Storyteller or other QuickTime-compatible software, but the app comes in handy for changing settings, updating firmware, and tracking GPS coordinates recorded with your video, which appear superimposed as a Google map while viewing movies.
Contour+2 can record up to 1080p HD in 30fps or 25fps, with settings for slow motion or action. The videos are standard H.264 MP4 with AAC audio compression recorded from the internal mic or any external 1/8-inch mic (mic cable included). And the 5MP still photo sensor can take photos at intervals from 1 to 60 seconds.
You can use this camera almost anywhere; Contour includes both a profile and rotating surface mount, with others available online. Mounts can be slid securely onto grooves at either side of the camera, and on the included waterproof case, which is rated for 60 meters.
We had no problems mounting the Contour+2 to a rental bike using the included straps, and the 170-degree wide-angle lens captured the scenery quite spectacularly. Just don’t expect similarly spectacular results from the included battery—on slightly less than a full charge, we got with barely an hour of continuous recording time using the stock 720p HD settings, paired with the iPhone. Might want to pick up a spare battery, just in case.
The bottom line. The Contour+2 is a compact solution for capturing great-looking sports footage in HD, but its OS X (and to a lesser degree, iOS) software don’t quite live up to the excellent hardware.
1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or faster, 256MB RAM, video card with 256MB RAM minimum, OS X 10.5 or greater, QuickTime 7 or greater (for Contour Storyteller software with 720p HD media); iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later (for Contour Connect app)
Sturdy, well-built hardware with virtually limitless options for camera mounting. Great HD picture quality in proper light. Free iPhone app controls camera settings while on the go. Mac app is free, and plots your video’s GPS coordinates on a Google map.
Short battery life. Pro QuickTime extensions may cause Mac app to crash when launched. While the hardware is great, the Mac software is just OK.