The camera works as directed; slide the switch forward and it instantly starts recording. Just make sure there is a mini SD card loaded in it, otherwise it will emit a high pitched beeping noise, very loudly, and will not stop until you turn the camera off or disable the noise in settings. As far as recording, it does what it should, and it fit securely into all of the mount attachments that came in the box.
When the time comes to record, all it takes is sliding the switch forward and the camcorder will immediately begin recording. During testing, there was often a slight lag time between pushing the switch up to record, and the record light coming on. The delay was mostly experienced when the camera had been off for a few minutes or longer.
The laser alignment would be helpful in a darker setting, but with lights on or in bright daylight, there was not much use for the laser alignment. To film something, I had to point the camera in its general direction and estimate my field of view. It has a wide viewing angle, so it will most likely catch whatever is trying to be filmed.
While recording, I turned the lens around to film at each degree, and back to zero degrees. When watching the video, the playback did not skip a beat before the video changed to the intended degree. The only annoying part was that the lens does not continuously turn in one direction. Once it hits 180 degrees, it has to be rotated the other way. To go from 180 back to 0 during filming, the scene will go to -90 and then to 90, before reaching zero.
Initially, holding the camera felt awkward, especially while walking around, because there is no way to monitor the action. It was also awkward to hold as it is essentially a small tube with a plastic mount on the bottom. Anyone planning on taking video without using a mount, expect very choppy video.
The Contour does best when mounted on something that remains relatively stable while in motion, like a car, or a skateboard. But since it is so sensitive to movement, I could forsee it being an issue if attached to a helmet, since it would be impossible to keep the head still while in action.
It is important to note that there is no way to take stills while also recording video with the Contour Roam 2. It is possible to capture still images from the video using the software, but that often results in blurry or low-resolution pics. Another option is to have the recording set to continuous still shots, which will take still after still, at a rate of 30 fps, rather than record. This will work if the intention is to only have stills, but to switch back to regular record mode, the camera will have to be plugged into a computer to have the settings changed.
I took a few short videos to start, and when I went to open them on my computer via the SD card, the relatively small files shot at 720p would not open and froze my laptop three times. I finally hooked the camera up to my laptop via the USB to miniUSB cable, and was able to view the videos that way. The quality of the actual video was subpar in my opinion, when filming at 720p at 60fps. The quality was far from spectacular and a bit grainy. The footage records as H.264 aac wrapped in MPEG-4, which is a commonly used file format for video recordings. Users should not have a problem working with these files once uploaded to a computer.
There was a noticeable different between shooting in Action HD 720p at 60fps and Full HD 1080p at 30fps. The difference was not so much in the color, since the camera picked up colors very well, blues were blue, reds were red, whites were white; the difference was in the choppiness of the video. When shooting in Full HD 1080p, the fisheye effect was slightly lessened, and the video was much smoother than when shooting in Action HD 720p at 60fps. It still was not the best video quality, but the image was a bit steadier and less pixelated when compared side by side with video captured at 720p at 60fps. In both settings, the camera switched from direct sun to shade nicely, accommodating for the shift in lighting. While shooting in 1080p, I did see a slight lens flare in the corner, but it was early afternoon, and the sun was pretty bright.
While simply holding the camera still, or even while walking, the video came back sort of choppy and shaky. The image bounced around seemingly more than the camera did. I can’t imagine that it would be much better while doing things like white water rafting. The promotional video shows a much more stable image playback with higher video quality than I experienced. To be completely honest, the video playback (even in the promotional video) left me feeling a bit motion sick at times. However, to an adventurist who enjoys skydiving, I’m sure motion sickness is not really an issue.
The Contour Roam2 features an internal mic and records sound as AAC audio compression files. The Roam2 does not have an additional port to hook up an external mic. The internal mic does a decent job of recording; I was able to hear my footsteps and conversation on the recording. There was also a bit of wind when I was recording audio, which was noticeable in the recording, but it did not cause any distortion in the sound.
Those filming while white water rafting or cliff diving may not be interested in an external mic, but anyone hoping to use the Roam2 to capture professional sound will be disappointed. There is no way to hook up an external mic to this device, so if sound is important to the video, users may need to bring another set up to film sound separately.