Contour, one of the original action video camera pioneers, went quiet a few years ago after continued strong competition from GoPro and the then-new Sony Action Cam. But the company is back, with a revitalised version of its entry-level ROAM.
The new, $299.95 Contour ROAM3 is waterproof straight out of the box, and will survive a trip to the bottom of a 10-meter-deep body of water. That's on top of Contour's incredibly rugged standard build quality — I once accidentally smashed the original Contour+ into a granite counter-top, only to find the camera without a scratch on it and a chunk taken out of the stone.
Waterproofing is the ROAM3's big selling factor against competitors like Sony's Action Cam and the GoPro Hero3+, both of which require bulky cases to be properly protected against water ingress. The new Contour camera doesn't have the same integrated Wi-Fi module of its step-up variants that lets you control and monitor it remotely from a smartphone or tablet, so you'll have to plug it into your PC to initially set up its two switchable video profiles.
While it only records in a maximum quality of 1080p at 30fps, half the frame rate of competitors, Contour's cameras have always had sharp lenses and capture clean, detailed video. Contour also points out that the new ROAM3 ships with a fully charged lithium-ion battery — great if you're picking one up at an airport or at your local surf shop — as well as an 8GB memory card and two low-profile mounts. Contour's rail mount system is convenient, and it's likely that you'll be able to find different mount variants cheaper than pricey GoPro ones.
Here's how the ROAM3 compares to a GoPro, courtesy of Gizmodo's own Brent Rose: