Yesterday morning I had my usual weekly meeting with the developer of the JSF BodyShop™ software. After another very productive week of work, I’m pleased to report that the “to do” list before we can launch the closed beta is growing very short. Right now we’ve put a freeze on adding new features for the initial release of the software, but we’ve already got quite a list going for the next version! We expect development of this project to continue indefinitely, with new releases and features coming out every 3 or 4 months. Once the closed beta begins I’ll start a new section on the JSF forums where beta testers can give feedback, report bugs and request new features. Of course after the official launch everyone will have access to the JSF BodyShop™ feedback forum. We want to encourage everyone to post their thoughts and ideas for new features.
In yesterday’s update I gave my thoughts on the GoPro HD Helmet HERO camera. While there are things I really like about the camera, there were several things that I was not very happy with. Because I had a VholdR Contour HD 1080p available (it was shipped to me by mistake and I was given permission to check it out if I wanted), I decided to give it a try.
The Contour doesn’t come with as many mounts as the GoPro unit – out of the box you get a helmet side mount and a goggle mount, which is all I needed. The helmet side mount was very easy to install, and it feels quite solid. Here is the camera mounted to my helmet:
Obviously the Contour is far more sexy than the boxy GoPro, and that’s a definite plus; however what really impressed me is I hardly noticed the weight of the camera. The camera is held very close to the helmet, and so it didn’t feel off balance like the GoPro did when I tried to side-mount it (see yesterday’s update).
When I took the GoPro for a test run there was a loud and very annoying clicking noise every time I hit a bump. As far as I can tell, this is caused by some play between the snap-in mounting clip and the actual mount. There was absolutely no clicking sounds when I hit bumps with the Contour.
Where the Contour falls short is wind noise. Wow. It’s bad. The Contour is not even in the same league as the GoPro when it comes to wind noise reduction.
The Contour’s software is simple and effective. I was able to quickly make changes to the camera and I didn’t experience any problems. One concern that I had is that I would not be able to switch resolutions in the field. As it turns out, that’s not entirely accurate. There is a switch that allows the user to toggle between two user-set video modes. I would have preferred a three-way switch, but I’m glad that I can at least switch between two modes.
The Contour has a very cool laser alignment feature, and it really works well. Once you’re ready to go you just activate the lasers with a button press and then you can easily align the camera. The GoPro lacks any kind of alignment feature.
Another thing that impressed me about the Contour is that the audio feedback beeps are very loud. The GoPro beeps when you start recording, but I simply could not hear it. I wonder how many awesome shots people have missed because they thought they were recording on their GoPro but didn’t hit the button hard enough (easy to do with gloves on). Not only does the Contour have better audio feedback, the large mechanical slider switch removes any ambiguity about whether or not you are recording. The switch is also easy to operate with gloves on.
The video quality is every bit as good as the GoPro. That said, I think I have a defective unit. Some of the time the video looked incredible, but then sometimes it would shift and the entire video would take on a reddish hue. There were also faint pink vertical lines that would jump in and out of the video. Here’s a clip I shot while the camera was malfunctioning. Note that the pink lines are tough to see on Youtube (they can be seen with the video shown fullscreen), but they are very noticeable in the raw footage.
A few other random thoughts. The Contour user manual is much better than the GoPro user manual. I also like that there is a tech support number, which is something I could not find in the GoPro documentation or on their web site. Finally, the Contour just feels like a more polished product than the GoPro.
I have to admit, I’m surprised. Based on all the research I did the GoPro seemed like the unit for me. Now I’m not so sure. If we can get the video issue sorted, I think I’m going to keep the Contour and send the GoPro back. The wind noise is my only big gripe, but I think there are some work-arounds out there. Also, VholdR is coming out with a waterproof housing soon, and that very well may address the wind issue.
I had a request for a closer look at the creepy “Blair Witch” house in the woods near my subdivision. I shot this yesterday with the Contour….
Don’t forget: tonight is the private JSF NL Hold’em tournament on Pokerstars. The tournament starts at 8:00 PM EST. Feel free to join us! The tournament number is 213476693. You can find it under “Tourney” -> “Private”. The name of the tournament is “JSF Gym Rats”. The password is “weights”. The Buyin is just $5.00+.50. If you don’t have the Pokerstars software, you can download it for free here (you’ll need to fund your account with real money to play in this tourney, however). See you at the tables!