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Old 07-09-13, 05:47 PM   #1
agent pombero
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Contour battery replacement?

After much waiting, I'm finally getting a helmet mounted camera. I've been going back and forth between either the Contour ROAM 2 ($199) or the GoPro Hero 3 white ($199).

I'm a little turned off by the fact that the Contour ROAM 2 has a built in battery and isn't swappable. Equally scary is that I can't find anything about a replacement battery program offered by Contour. Does anyone know if they have one?

From different user reviews (blogs, comments, Amazon) the GoPro Hero 3 White has terrible battery life...and has some quality control issues. Not sure if that has been sorted out.

ah, choices
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Old 07-09-13, 06:37 PM   #2
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I e-mailed Contour asking if they offer a replacement battery for the ROAM 2 once the lifecycle of the internal battery is over. I got an automated response:

Quote:

Hi Agent pombero,

Thanks for emailing Contour!

We have received your request and are working on responding to you as soon as possible. If you have any additional information to add to this case, please reply to this email.

Our normal business hours are 8-5 PST Mon through Fri. Please allow up to 24 hours for a response.

Thanks in advance for your patience. We look forward to assisting you.

Thanks,
Contour
I'll post here once I get a response.
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Old 07-09-13, 08:51 PM   #3
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Unless charging the camera every day, I wouldn't worry about the sealed battery. iphones have sealed batteries too, and those seem to last a few years even with daily recharging. I've owned the original Contour Roam for a few years and the battery still works fine (recharging about once a week). Battery lasts about 3 hours at the highest resolution setting, which is an hour more than other Contour cameras (presumably because the sealed battery is larger than the replaceable batteries used in the other cameras). The sealed battery also makes the camera more weather-resistant and the camera doesn't suffer from battery connection issues like some many sports cameras with non-sealed batteries.

The main problem with sealed batteries is that you're out-of-luck if you want to shoot more than 3 hours of video in one day. With a replaceable battery, you can just pop in a fresh battery (along with a fresh memory card) and keep going. On the other hand, the Contour Roam is really easy to turn on and off (unlike most sports cameras), so you don't need to shoot 3 hours of continuous video to get a few minutes of useful content. Just turn the camera on for the best parts of your bike ride.
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Old 07-09-13, 10:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
I've owned the original Contour Roam for a few years and the battery still works fine (recharging about once a week).
That is good to hear, johnny99

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Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
Battery lasts about 3 hours at the highest resolution setting, which is an hour more than other Contour cameras (presumably because the sealed battery is larger than the replaceable batteries used in the other cameras).
Yeah, three hours is why I am edging towards the Contour ROAM 2 vs. the GoPro Hero 3 which has a shorter battery life. My round trip commute is 2 hours a day, so I'll have to recharge daily. I'm using the camera strictly to protect myself in case there is an accident with a motorist and so high definition is a necessity.

Are you able to see license plates easily on the high definition video by pausing and zooming in?

My ultimate goal is to have a rear facing camera under the seat and another camera on the helmet.

Last edited by agent pombero; 07-09-13 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 07-10-13, 10:36 AM   #5
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Sometimes you can read license plates. Depends on the angle, speed, and light. Image quality is a lot better in bright sunlight.
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Old 07-10-13, 04:23 PM   #6
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Thanks, johnny99.

I purchased my Contour ROAM 2 today at REI.

I also received a response from Contour:

Quote:
Hi Agent pombero,

Thanks for contacting Contour Technical Support. The lifecycle on the ContourROAM and ContourROAM2 battery is about 500 full charge and discharge cycles. That means if you only use 20% of the battery and then charge it up, you must do this five times to equal a single cycle.

In the time since we started selling the ContourROAM in October of 2011, we have not had a single customer whose camera has used up that 500 cycle lifespan.

That being said, we have provided assistance to any customer who had battery problems with their ContourROAM or ContourROAM2 even if it was out of warranty.



[TABLE="width: 100%"]
[TR]
[TD="width: 50"] [/TD]
[TD]Regards,

Todd Sinclair
Project Lead, Technical Support
www.contour.com/support

[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
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Old 07-10-13, 06:26 PM   #7
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I've owned the Contour Roam, still have a Hero 3 white, and also the Sony ActionCam and a few other no-name cameras.

Currently I run a pair ofRD32IIs, which is a Chinese camera that sells for about $125. I actually like it better than either the Contour or the GoPro. In my tests it has been better able to produce readable license plate images than any of the other cameras I've owned. It's enough cheaper that I was able to afford two, front and rear facing. I can really not tell much difference between any of them as far as video quality goes, until you start looking at still frames.

Once you're at still frame, it goes like this:
RD32II is the best, pretty clear stills
GoPro is next, only a little worse than the RD32II
Contour is a bit more muddy in still frame than the GoPro.
The Sony is abysmal in still - the frames are extremely muddy, they look like a copy of the video instead of the original.

The RD32II also does not have an easily replaceable battery, but it's just a common 3.7 volt LiIon cell and from the teardowns I've seen it looks like anything vaguely the right size would work as a replacement, there's plenty of room in there. From what I've read, the Contour is very difficult to open and close and still have it be waterproof (in fact the docs that came with mine basically said that if you opened it, you'd probably never get it waterproof again, so best to send it to the factory for battery replacement).

I do 90 minutes of recording a day on both cameras. I think if I was still using the Contour, I'd be very close to 500 charge cycles because I'd have had it over a year by now.

If you're choosing between the Contour and the GoPro, IMO the factors are: the Contour mounts a little easier and looks slightly less idiotic than the GoPro on a helmet. The GoPro has a replaceable battery (aftermarket batteries and chargers are cheap on eBay - I did this and $20 got me two batteries and a charger), and with the GoPro you can do almost anything to settings, erasing the card, etc from the buttons on the camera. On the Contour, you have to attach it to a computer to do ANYTHING - change resolution, erase files, set the time/date, etc. With the RD32II you can change things from the camera but you have to attach it to a monitor first (has both composite and HDMI outputs).
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Old 07-11-13, 01:37 PM   #8
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Today is bright & sunny here in Portland --- and the Contour ROAM 2 performed great. I'm using a Sandisk Ultra 32GB class 10 MicroSD card. The camera is mounted on my helmet via the Contour vented helmet mount (works great).

I rode around for an hour and recorded in the following modes (~30 mins each):

High definition video (1,920 x 1,080): Video quality is great, colors seem accurate, and more importantly license plates are mostly readable. I say mostly because the camera can capture the license plate in 30 feet or less. By using VLC, you can advance frame by frame to isolate the clearest shot of a drivers license plate. Cars zooming past me at 20-30 mph on my left record license plates clearly. If the sun is directly behind you, and there is an approaching car, the license plate is more difficult to read on the video because of the glare off the license plate.

5 megapixel continuous photo, 1 photo/sec (2048 x 1536): License plates are 95% of the time readable within 50 feet! This seems to be the best mode for capturing license plate numbers to protect yourself against punk motorists. My only hope is that Contour eventually offers higher resolution still photos and more photos per second, with an ideal of .25 or .5 sec interval burst. The issue with the sun behind you still blurs the license plate in still photo mode --- license plates are readable under 15 feet. The sun behind me was very bright (nearly squinting if you ride into it).

Yes, unfortunately with the Contour you do need to connect it to a computer to change the settings (I brought my laptop along for the settings switch). This is a minor inconvenience IMO --- however, others may find it annoying. For me, there will only be two modes I'll be using on this camera (HD and photo) and it will probably be a set it and forget about it kinda thing until I get bored with it weeks later. The battery life on the Contour is much better than the GoPro Hero 3 (which SUCKS. Read the reviews on Amazon and GoPros forums).

I'm very happy with my purchase and believe I'll be able to hold punk motorists accountable for their dangerous behavior on the road.

Last edited by agent pombero; 07-11-13 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 07-12-13, 07:40 AM   #9
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Another thing I forgot to mention - if it's important to you, the clock on the Contour (mine, at least) is basically useless. It lost like half an hour or more a day, so after a week it was so far off as to be pointless.
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