VholdR ContourHD wearable HD camcorder hands-on and impressions

We've been toying with a VholdR ContourHD helmet cam for a few weeks now, seeing how well it blends in with our adrenaline-fueled lifestyle. We've mounted it on various helmets, tried it with some moderately extreme endeavors, and, now that we've had a chance to refill our asthma inhalers, we thought we'd share a few of those adventures and give our impressions of this helmet-mounted HD shooter.

First the important numbers: the $299 cam shoots 720p video at 30fps through a 135 degree wide-angle lens, or can be set to capture 858 x 480 video at 60fps if things are going to get really fast-paced. It features a microSD card slot and ships with a 2GB card to start, upon which it will dump H.264-encoded video, and also includes not one but two batteries, meaning a full day at the races should be no problem.

The body itself is durable, made of aluminum, is water-resistant, and interestingly the entire internals of the camera rotate through 192 degrees, meaning regardless of how you mount this thing you can get video that's right-side-up -- or at some crazy angle if you're so inclined. The only problem we had with construction was with a flimsy internal latch which occasionally didn't hold the battery tight enough to make solid contact. A removal and re-insertion fixed that in most cases, but we're wondering how that clip will hold up in the long run.

Included are mounts for a goggle strap or any smooth surface via a 3M adhesive disc, while a handlebar mount is also on-offer. Sadly there's no suction-cup mount available, but one is coming, as is a mount enabling the thing to be screwed onto a standard tripod or any of the zillions of other types of threaded mounts out there. There's an internal microphone that does a good job with wind noise at moderate speeds, but get up into the 30mph or higher range and suddenly the woosh becomes rather pronounced.

Operation is simple, with a pair of lasers helping you get the thing aligned, a button on the back to turn it on, and a slider to start filming. The button is a little hard to push with gloves on, and we'd have preferred a simple switch, but the slider makes it easy to start and stop filming, with the cam making some reassuringly loud beeps to let you to be sure you're rolling even when you're rolling. Once captured the cam includes a simple software package that lets you crop the beginning and end from a clip and throw it into the company's community site. It's easy to use and included hosting and embedding is great, but we wished we could stitch together multiple clips or even segments of a single clip, and not being able to choose where the software stores its videos locally is a real drag.

We like the cam but would have liked it better with some more flexible mounting options (a number of which are due to be released soon) and a slightly more comprehensive software package. The wind noise was a bit disappointing at higher speeds, but the cam seems most intended for human-powered pursuits, whether they be on a gravel trail or a few feet of powder. Its simple, subtle design certainly looks a lot nicer clipped to your lid than much of the competition, and it's something we'd certainly rock on the slopes with pride.

Update: It seems we were given a bonus battery for the review! Retail version comes with a single batt. Expect a solid four hours of use before it goes dead.

Update 2: We got a little more info on the upcoming suction cup mount. It's made by Panavise and looks like this:

That will be available very soon for $39.99, and there will be an Autosports bundle for $329.99 including the suction mount and a cigarette lighter adapter, so no worries about battery life over a day at the track. The mount and the adapter should make this a solid match for something like a GoPro Hero. Also, that little universal mount shown in the video with the threaded receiver is apparently the very first one in existence, so look for more news about availability there and some other mounting options in a few weeks.