Published on February 3rd, 2015 | by Greg0
Contour ROAM3: An Action Camera With Lasers!
If action cameras were to have a Goliath, it would be GoPro. Most other firms are closer to David’s status in the story, and one of them in particular has had a troubled few years. Not many firms get to come back from the dead, and maybe we’re mixing metaphors here, but it’s nice to see one of our first loves in the sports cam category find a second life and release an updated product.
The Contour ROAM3 is a rugged, shockproof, waterproof, go-anywhere video camera that offers a compact form-factor- and doesn’t require a housing. Offering full capture at 1080p and 30 frames per second or 720p at 60fps, the built-in battery is excellent, with a full 3.5 hours of life per charge (but isn’t removable or swappable). You’ll give up some features- there’s no wifi connectivity or Bluetooth wireless either, no remote, and no electronic viewfinder or LCD screen for playback. But if you are in need of a solid, durable, easily-mountable camera for use this winter on the slopes or this spring on your skates, skateboard, or surfing, then this guy might be one of your best friends.
One cool addition is a laser level and ‘guidance system’, which helps show you what you’ll be capturing. The recording controls are simple and easy enough to use even with gloves on, though you’ll have trouble configuring options or modifying settings without connecting to a computer. An 8GB microSD card is included, and there is a standard tripod mount on the bottom and fairly basic stick-on mounts (rather than the wide range of accessories we’ve seen from some packages). Stills can also be captured in five-megapixel single frames or burst mode. As with most competitors, audio is only so-so, with a mono microphone. The interesting barrel-shape and style has since been borrowed (by Polaroid amongst others), but the Roam3 is definitely bigger and heavier than some of the others on the market, though it’s noteworthy that most require bulky extra cases to be usable underwater.
In low light conditions, video wasn’t impressive, a bit noisy and out of focus. But in daylight, results were crisp, clear, and lacked the graininess we’ve seen from lower-priced models. The optics and sensor here are good, and we’d consider them excellent in this class. Instant-on recording is handy, and we liked the ability to quickly rotate the camera to capture the surrounding environment. The Contour ROAM3 won’t blow anyone away, but is a workhorse- a well-made, easy-to-use, camera that doesn’t try to do everything but gets the basics right. Available now for around $200, online and in stores.