New ContourHD 1080P Review: Hands On and Sample Videos

contour hd 1080p review

New ContourHD 1080P Review: Hands On and Video Comparison To ContourHD

The hot breakthrough in helmet cameras now is 1080P HD and VholdR is at the forefront of that trend. Their new ContourHD 1080P comes a mere six months after the release of the original ContourHD which shoots at 720P. Things are moving fast in this exciting new niche of wearable camcorders.

The ContourHD 1080P as the name suggests shoots sharp, high res 1080p HD video and we are the first people to put it up to the test.

ContourHD 1080P Specs At A Glance

  • Full HD – 1080p (1920×1080), 30 fps
  • Tall HD – 960p (1280×960), 30 fps
  • Action HD – 720p (1280×720), 60 fps
  • Contour HD – 720p (1280×720), 30fps
  • Fast SD – WVGA (848×480), 60fps
  • 135-degree wide angle lens
  • 5 Megapixel Sensor
  • Internal microphone (Software Adjustable)
  • Quicktime H.264 MOV videos with AAC Audio
  • MicroSD/SDHC up to 16GB (2GB included) – Up to 8 Hours of HD video
  • Rechargable Lithium Ion Battery – Up to 3 hours per charge
  • iPod(USB) Charge Compatible
  • Adjustable Resolution, Bit Rate, Sharpness, Contrast, Light Metering, Exposure and Mic Sensitivity
  • Compatible With Existing VholdR TRail mount system
  • Easy Edit and Share software

Better Sensor, Same Camera Body, Same Mounts

The major difference between the ContourhHD and the new ContourHD 1080P is in the guts of the camera. The new 1080P version sports a higher resolution sensor but the same lens and casing as the previous model. This is a good to know as previous owners of the ContourHD can use the same mounts, accessories and batteries for the new ContourHD 1080P model. VholdR calls it their TRail mount system, which provide a variety of mounting options including mounts for goggles, handlebars, helmets, and vehicles. The camera comes with the helmet mount and goggle strap mount. The helmet mount is super versatile and can be attached to most helmets and hard surfaces whereas goggle strap mount provides cool point of view and is very easy to use.

Let’s review some of these cameras’ similarities. Both cameras look exactly the same except with a few cosmetic changes. You can see the differences in the shots below. Both are featherweight cams in a water resistant anodized aluminum case weighing only 4.3 ounces. VholdR has put a lot of thought into making the Contour cameras as small and light as possible which shows in the details such as using cell phone like components. Memory is stored on tiny MicroSD cards and the battery is similar to slim lithium ions used in cell phones. We especially like the giant slide record switch on the top of the cameras that makes it super easy to stop and start recording even with thick gloves on.
contourhd logos

contourhd 1080p camera review
Other than the 1080P logo, the other cosmetic differences are inside the cover where high def and standard def recording switch labels are and the color of the battery lock tab.

vholdr contourhd 1080p camera
Additional label differences are on the front of the lens.

One unique feature of this camera which no other point of view camera can boast is twin lasers. Lasers, people! The ContourHD cams come with dual lasers beside the lens to ensure alignment of the rotating 192 degree lens. You can actually see these laser pointer like red beams shoot out from the camera when you first start it up. Simply rotate the lens until the lasers are lined up horizontally.
helmet cam

Shooting sports videos like you will be doing with the ContourHDs means you need a wider lens than regular video cameras to capture the full scene and create immersive “in the action” videos. ContourHD comes with a wide 135 degree lens which gives it a nice blend between catching all the action and over distortion.

While other wearable camcorder manufacturers view uploading videos as an afterthought, Vholdr’s ContourHD and ContourHD 1080P offer their “Easy Edit” software for download which is a combination video importer, rudimentary video editor and exporter. This is the best software included with any point of view camera if you want an all in one solution without jumping from program to program. We just wish it would upload to more places than just the Vholdr community.

A Word About Memory Card Size and Batteries

Since the ContourHD 1080P shoots at a higher resolution than the Contourhd (which shoots at a maximum 720P) you are getting only half the recording time per GB of SD card memory. Be sure you are aware of this before heading off to the slopes or trails. Both cameras come with a 2GB MicroSD card which is sufficient to get 1/2 hr to 2 hours depending on your video recording resolution. We recommend getting at least an extra 4GB card or for a little more money the 8GB or 16GB card which is the maximum the Vholdrs can take. The extra breathing room is nice so you do not need to worry about running out in the middle of nowhere.

An extra battery is another useful extra that can come in very handy. The standard battery can shoot about 3 hours of video but you can record 4 to 16 hours on the SD cards so your single battery will die while you still have plenty of recording time left on the card. We always carry extra batteries and memory cards with us whenever we go skiing on long weekends at Whistler mountain or vacation at places like Chamonix. We can shoot for days and never worry about recharging the batteries or worse, bringing a laptop along just to download a full SD card. The ContourHD batteries and SD cards are small enough we can fit at least two batteries and extra Micro SD cards in an Altoids tin with room to spare.

The difference in recording size between the ContourHD and ContourHD 1080P is outlined in the handy chart below which also shows recording time based on resolution and frame rates.
vholdr contourhd 1080p helmet cameras

ContourHD 1080P vs ContourHD Video Recording Features Comparison

The ContourHD cameras have a variety of shooting modes that should satisfy most sports videographers.

The ContourHD shoots some amazingly sharp 720P video and features a super smooth 60 fps at standard definition of 848x480. The ContourHD 1080P pushes that limit with it’s “Action HD ” of 60 fps at true 720P resolution (1280 x 720). We definitely notice the difference in smoothness between the two during our outdoor shoots. Play the 60fps 720P footage back in slow motion and you will be astounded.

The shooting modes for the ContourHD 1080P are:

  • Full HD 1080P -  1920 x 1080 pixels,30 fps
  • Tall HD 960P -  1280 x 960 pixels, 30 fps
  • Action HD 720P - 1280 x 720 pixels, 60 fps
  • Original HD 720P-1280 x 720 pixels, 30 fps
  • Fast SD WVGA   - 848 x 480 pixels, 60 fps

The ContourHD keeps things simple by sticking only to 720P (1280 x 720) and WVGA 848 x 480 (60 fps).

Additionally, ONLY the ContourHD 1080P have configurable settings for:

  • resolution and bit rate
  • light metering
  • contrast
  • exposure
  • sharpness
  • metering
  • microphone sensitivity
  • camera clock time

All settings are done via VholdR’s free Easy Edit video import and editing software available for both PC and Mac. Just plug your camera into your computer with the included USB cable and make your changes. (Camera settings are only available for the ContourHD 1080p).

The new cmos image sensor and video processing chipset in the 1080P has been tweaked for motion and outdoor color saturation and contrast. 

H.264 Codec

Editing software compatibility is key if you want to take captured raw video into the editor of your choice. The Contour HDs use the popular H.264 otherwise known as MP4 or Mpeg4 video format with AAC audio recorded in .mov file format. Both of these codecs are widely used and compatible with the majority of video editing software available, some are even free or open source.

Better Sound Than Ever

The ContourHD1080p also features an upgraded microphone that is fine tuned for outdoor sports which records with minimal wind noise due to its ability to adjust the microphone sensitivity (only on ContourHD 1080p). You can hear most ambient sounds and some will appreciate the noiseless power up to record feature. Powering up the camera with the record switch already set to record turns off all power up and recording/stopping beeps.

First ContourHD 1080P Demo Videos

Here are the first videos shot with the new ContourHD 1080P outside of the officially sanctioned ones released by VholdR!

This first video was shot at 1080P but since no video hosting site will display 1080p video in a browser, we are linking to this one uploaded to Vimeo which displays it at 720p. You can download the raw 1080p file from Vimeo for now (need to sign up) until we find a suitable host for the file.



Full 1080p movie raw output from Vholdr ContourHD 1080p test.

Here is the video at 720p for comparison.



Downsized to 720p from Vholdr Contour HD 1080p test.

We had to rush to be the first to get these 1080p samples from the wild.

Come back tomorrow for comparison videos with the ContourHD (at 720p resolution) of our bike run on the Vancouver North Shore mountains!

What You Get With The ContourHD’s

Here is what is included with each ContourHD camera depending which model you order:

  • VholdR ContourHD (720P) or VholdR ContourHD 1080p wearable camcorder
  • 2GB MicroSD card
  • Goggle mount
  • Flat surface mount
  • Rechargeable battery (up to 3 hrs)
  • USB cable
  • Quick start guide

We are the first people to have the new ContourHD 1080P in stock! You can find it here along with our ContourHD 1080p Megapack

Which ContourHD is right for you: 720p or 1080p?


What You Like You concentrate more on the riding than the video camera. You love that it’s already configured for you, easy to use on your computer, and doesn’t require any special equipment. You’re obsessed with video and turning all of the knobs to get it to be just the way you want it. Of course, you love the ride, but what’s the point if you can’t show your friends what you did?
How you use the videos You make short clips and share them online.   You make awesome movies to play online, on your HDTV and Blu-Ray player  
Type of computer you’re usingMac or PC, and it’s a tool you use nearly everyday but not usually for video. It can be new or old but it does not have a special video card, huge hard drive, or extra ram. Oh baby! Your machine is tuned for handling lots of huge video files including video software you purchased, extra memory, and a separate hard drive for sure.
Which to Buy
ContourHD 720p
What Is Key:          
      A perfect, all-around wearable camcorder for the first time buyer. It’s easy to use, dialed in for outdoor lighting conditions, and captures beautiful HD video (720p) or SD action video (60 frames per second).
ContourHD 1080p
  What Is Key:
  The ultimate wearable camcorder with the best HD video and settings you can configure to match your conditions. Advised for customers with video experience and a powerful computer to handle the full 1080p quality this camcorder can capture.

Vholdr ContourHD Camera

VholdR ContourHD Camera


Vholdr ContourHD 1080p Wearable Camcorder

VholdR ContourHD 1080p Wearable Camcorder

Interested in what others have to say about the Contour HD?

Read customer reviews of the Vholdr Contour HD Cameras

Want to buy a ContourHD or ContourHD 1080p?

Check out the different VholdR bundles at our store

See • BrandsContourHelmet Cam ResourcesHelmet Cam Reviews //
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By Sean McDermott
21 11 2009 at 05:36 AM

Great review Lee Lau, detailed and informative.  Your videos on Vimeo are really nice too.  I love watching POV footage especially when it’s in true HD.  I can’t wait to get my hands on’s Contour HD 1080p!  It should be here soon.

By Brian Lansburgh
04 12 2009 at 06:29 AM

Keep me posted re products.

By Gille Levesque
08 08 2010 at 11:40 AM

Do you offer a low profile sturdy mount. I would like to have some kind of mount to fix the contour hd 1080p to my skydive helmet. If you do i will probably buy the camera and the megapack from your company.

By PointofViewCameras
09 08 2010 at 03:26 PM

Hey Gille, for sky diving, you can use the flat adhesive mount to adhere it to your helmet… this will create a low profile connection.. the only downside is that you have to stick the pad directly on your helmet, but if it is not a helmet you are too concerned about then this is a good option…

By Sven
30 09 2010 at 04:58 AM


Just a heads up: They have a new version out now - which includes GPS. No, I’m not affiliated with the company, but I love their products. The new cam also has a couple of other bugs ironed out (back cover can now be locked, even better microphone placement, etc).
Check out the ContourGPS !

By simon
11 01 2011 at 12:58 AM

I had a ContourHD Pro 1080 mounted to my bike helment - it fell off. The mount failed once before and they admitted that the batch from 3M was suspect. When asked about my lost camera they went silent and have never responded to a mail/post/facebook comment.

The image quality was good, but the sound was poor, and you can guess my opinion on support…

By PointOfViewCameras
11 01 2011 at 09:31 AM

@simon Sorry to hear that. There was one very small batch of bad adhesives but that was very long time ago. We shipped 1000’s of these since with no reported problems of this kind.

Who did you try to contact for support? Contour? Normally their customer support is excellent.

By Robert Monoson
22 06 2011 at 10:16 AM

I’ve been using ContourHD for several years now, and I’ve got to say that I am not nearly as psched as many folks here seem to be.  I have used my for skydiving, extreme glacier and mountain climbing, autocross racing, as well as expeditions in the bush.  I have several issues:

1. Hand holding this camera while filming will 100% be blurry.  The camera MUST be on a support (helmet, wrist, suction cup)  Problem is, sometimes it cannot be “mounted”.

2. Sound.  The sound for autocross (or ANYTHING windy) is horrible.  Even the forums have people using tape, electrical tape, custom socks with holes in them for the camera lens… etc.

3. The waterproof case works, but nearly drowns out vocals for documenting what is going on.

4. Hissing sound… I’ve got many ContourHD cameras and ALL of them produce some sort of hissing audible in the background during playback.  This is not only annoying, but ruins the captured moment.

there are other issues as well, but I had to give a more realistic review.  I am seriously looking at the GoProHD at this time.

By PointOfViewCameras
22 06 2011 at 04:25 PM

@ Robert Monoson
Sorry to hear about the problems you’ve had with your Contour cameras. The ContourHD 1080p model has been out for less than two years and was released in the fall of 2009. The original ContourHD (720p) had it’s initial debute in late Spring 2009. Prior to that, there was the standard definition VholdR model and the Twenty20 camera. If you’re having problems with audio and are using the ContourHD 1080p (model # 1300), we suggest updating to the latest firmware and using Contour’s Easy Edit software to adjust microphone gain. If you’re using an older model, you may want to upgrade to one of the newer cameras, the ContourGPS or Contour+, both feature an improved omni-directional microphone for better audio and the Contour+ has an optional mic input.

By oran donohue
04 12 2011 at 06:18 AM

how do you attach it to a air vented helmet or do need a set of goggles.cause i do mountain biking and i dont know how to attach it.

By PointofViewCameras
05 12 2011 at 10:04 AM

@oran donohue
Contour offers an optional Vented Helmet Mount for use with air vented bike helmets.

By Mrs D Chandler
05 10 2012 at 09:46 AM

My son in law is off on his third tour just after Christmas to Afghan. He would like the camara to be able to show my daughter (his wife) when he returns the more mucking around/laughable times with his regiment.
Would this be ok to attach to his military helmet. We are thinking of getting it for him as a Christmas present and know he wants one but not sure which one would be suitable,

By PointofViewCameras
05 10 2012 at 01:18 PM

@Mrs D Chandler
The following cameras support mounting directly to a combat helmet:
- GoPro HERO with NVG Mount
- CntourROAM and Contour+2 with Picatinny Mount
- Drift HD with Picatinny Mount

Note: For the Picatinny Mount, the helmet will need an ARC Helmet Rail System.