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Why the Contour ROAM2 is a Great Camcorder for Moms
"Action Cams" Aren't Just for Athletes
You've probably seen commercials advertising "sports cams" or "action cams," those tiny camcorders that athletes and adventurers like to mount on their helmets, mountain bikes, skateboards, surfboards, race cars or anything else that moves. The advertising suggests you need to be an active adventurer to own one of these cameras. But nothing could be further from the truth. While these little camcorders are wonderful for sports, they're also a great choice (and a lot of fun!!) for parents, particularly those with young kids. Here's why I, as a mom, love my Contour ROAM2 camcorder.
(Photo of the author wearing a Contour ROAM2 camcorder taken by Cayne Howard )
5 Reasons Moms Should Love the Contour ROAM - Who's more active than a mom?
I recently purchased a Contour ROAM2 action cam, and I absolutely love it! I actually bought it in anticipation of an upcoming scuba diving trip. But I quickly discovered this little video cam is useful for a wide variety of things, including capturing footage of my kids that I wouldn't be able to capture with any of the other five cameras I own, even though all of them (two DSLRs, two rugged compacts and a super zoom) shoot both still photos and video.
The reason? Contour ROAM camcorders and other action cams have an ultra-wide angle field of view are designed to be mounted or worn, offering users the ability to capture hands-free video footage. This opens up a world of possibilities, especially for moms. Here are 5 reasons I love my Contour ROAM2 and recommend it for other parents.
- Hands-free operation
Need I say more? This is the number one reason I think the Contour ROAM and other action cams are a great choice for parents. When you're trying to juggle kids and life, moms often need both hands - and sometimes more!
With the Contour ROAM, you just mount or don it, turn it on and the camera does the rest. That frees your hands for more important things such as catching your daughter as she rides her bike for the first time without training wheels or grabbing your son as he comes zipping down a waterslide. (Don't worry - it's waterproof!)
You can't hold a regular camera AND do those things, nor can you mount a video camera on a tripod and expect it to follow your movements. So if you don't have another adult able to shoot video of these precious moments, you simply won't be able to record them. Unless, of course, you have a hands-free video camera that travels with you.
The Contour ROAM and other action cams are designed to be attached to something or, alternately, worn on your body. So you can mount it on your daughter's bike (as I did in the photo shown here) and capture the moment she learns to ride without training wheels or strap it on your head and videotape your son's adventure at the local water park. You could even mount it on a baby's walker (as Contour's main competitor GoPro did in this commercial) or put a headstrap on a toddler to get a baby's-eye view of the world.
It's also great for capturing action video of your kids on rides at the county fair or local amusement parks. I used it on our trip to Disneyland and was able to capture video of my son on the Mad Tea Party spinning tea cups ride (see video below) as well as other rides.
(Image of Contour ROAM2 mounted on bike handlebars. Credit: Lisa Howard)
- Rugged waterproof design
The Contour ROAM is designed to be bounced and jostled and tossed about while mounted on all types of sports equipment, from mountain bikes crashing down a hill to surfboards carving a wave. If it's tough enough to do that, it's tough enough for a mom.
Now I wouldn't recommend throwing it under your 3-year-old's trike or letting the kids jump on top of it, but for everyday use, the Contour ROAM2 is certainly more rugged than many other electronics. I accidentally dropped it on our cement garage floor just a few weeks after I purchased it, and the only noticeable effect was a small scratch on the body.
It's even waterproof to 1 meter (approximately 3.3 feet). So there's no need to worry if one of the kids accidentally drops it in a swimming pool, lake, river, or even an open toilet bowl. (And thank God you'll be able to clean it without worry if it ends up in that last body of water!).
Ultra-Wide Angle Field of View
The Contour ROAM has a maximum field of view (FOV) of 170 degrees, allowing you to capture all the action.
If you're thinking, "What does that mean?" just imagine standing in the middle of a circle. A circle is 360 degrees, so if you're in the center, there are 180 degrees in front of you and 180 degrees behind you. The Contour ROAM2 has a maximum FOV of 170 degrees (less when shooting at 1080p), meaning it can capture almost everything you see. It's great for capturing large groups of kids at birthday parties or sports games.
In comparison, a typical wide angle lens has a FOV of 64 to 84 degrees, or about one-third to one-half of the viewing area in front of you - and a standard 50mm lens or telephoto lens has an even smaller FOV. Think about what happens when you try to take a self-portrait at arms-length with your camera. Even at the widest setting, you have to be careful to hold it out as far as possible, and it's sometimes still possible to cut off part of your head. The ultra-wide angle field of view on the ROAM2 makes it much easier to capture images without cutting anyone or anything out of the shot.
(Wide angle shot of Disneyland Main Street taken from video shot on the Contour ROAM2 camcorder. Credit: Lisa Howard)
- Easy to use
The Contour ROAM2 has one sliding switch on top. Push it forward to start recording. Push it back to stop. Does it get any easier than that?
If you're running around after your kids, you don't have time to fiddle with a lot of controls or browse multiple camera screens to find the right settings. You just want to turn it on and start recording. That's exactly what the Contour ROAM2 does. Just slide the switch and you're on. A red light and an audible beep will confirm that camcorder's status, and you can flip a small switch to lock the slider in place. This is great for preventing small hands from either turning the camera on or off when you want just the opposite.
- Small, compact design goes with you everywhere
If you're already lugging around a diaper bag, a purse and maybe some extra toys to entertain the kids wherever you go, the last thing you want is a bulky camcorder.
Fortunately, the Contour ROAM2 will easily fit in a purse, diaper bag, or even a pocket. It fits right in the palm of your hand (see the photo here). It weighs a mere 5.1 ounces, and because it's designed for rugged action, you're not going to have to worry about it getting bounced around with the toys.
(Image of Contour ROAM2 by Lisa Howard)
Meet the Contour ROAM2 - A great hands-free camcorder for parents
I looked at a variety of action cams before deciding on the Contour ROAM2. I eventually chose this one because I liked its small, aerodynamic cylindrical design, the locking record switch, and the price. It was more than $100 cheaper than the GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition, but offered all of the features I needed.
The ROAM2 is one of two action cams currently made by Contour. The other is known as the Contour+. Both are designed to be mounted or worn, leaving your hands free for other tasks. That makes it great for recording videos of your kids while you're interacting with them.
Here's a quick look at some of the other Contour ROAM2 specs.
- Locking Instant On-Record Switch
- 60fps HD video .
- Waterproof construction
- Laser alignment with the built-in laser level
- Up to 3.5 hours of footage on one charge
More About the Contour ROAM2 - Another reviewer takes a look at this action camcorder
And 2 Things You Might Not Love - Things to know before you purchase the Contour ROAM2
I love my Contour ROAM action cam, but every camera has both pros and cons. Here are two of the downsides of the Contour ROAM that you should be aware of before purchasing this video camera.
- No viewfinder and no display
Like many other action cams, the Contour ROAM doesn't have either a viewfinder or an LCD monitor to help you see what you're recording. (GoPro does offer a screen for the HERO3, but it's an accessory you must purchase separately.)
That means you basically need to rely on the camcorder's ultra-wide field of view to capture whatever is happening in front of it. I do miss the instant gratification of an LCD screen on this device, but I'm willing to live without it because I realize the tradeoff is a smaller, lighter weight, more compact camera.
- No manual controls
The easy-on, easy-off operation of this camera is both an advantage and a disadvantage. As noted above, its ease of use is great for anyone who just wants to turn the device on and not worry about scrolling through complicated screens with too many options. But for those who DO like fiddling with the controls, the Contour ROAM really doesn't offer the ability to make any adjustments at all.
In addition, if you want to switch from 720p to 1080p video or to time-lapse still photo mode, you'll need to plug it into the computer, as these controls are not found on the camera itself. Take a look at the image here and you'll understand just how few controls the ROAM2 has.
(Image of the Contour ROAM with its easy-on record switch by Lisa Howard)
The Contour ROAM2 in Action at Disneyland - Can you spin on the Mad Tea Cups and shoot video with YOUR camcorder?
My kids and I love the spinning tea cups ride at Disneyland, but this is the first time I've ever been able to get video on this ride and still keep the cup spinning. I simply attached my ROAM2 to the headband mount and trusted it to capture the action!
The ROAM2 is available in four colors:
Riding a Bike - You'll never miss great moments when the camera comes with you
I shot this video by mounting the Contour ROAM2 on my daughter's Barbie bike (Yes, that's Barbie herself making a guest appearance on the left side of the screen). I didn't notice until my daughter started riding that the handlebar pad had slipped, so the camera wasn't properly positioned, but was much better once I adjusted it about 16 seconds into the video.
Mounts and Accessories for Your Action Cam - Get the most from your Contour camcorder with these add-ons
The Contour ROAM2 comes with two mounts, a 4GB microSD memory card, a quick start guide and a USB cable (used for changing settings, uploading video and charging). You can expand your camera's abilities by purchasing additional mounts and accessories such as those shown here. My favorites are the headband mount and the flex strap.
With a headband mount, you can wear the camera on your head.
This mount can be used to stick the camera on just about any flat surface.
The Contour ROAM2 is waterproof to 1 meter (about 3 feet), but this case will allow you to take it underwater to 60 meters).
If you want to expand the camcorder's memory beyond the included 4GB card, this card will do the trick.
You'll capture great hands-free video with a Contour ROAM2.
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Another Sample Shot from the Contour Roam2
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