GoPro HD Hero 3 Vs. Contour – Which Is Best For Snowboarding?

Last week I looked at buying a helmet cam, but it seems both GoPro and Contour released brand new cameras in the past couple of days, so here’s a look at the these new updated models and see which works best for snowboarding.

First, let’s go over what was released and what the stats are for each camera, then we’ll go over how I think they perform for snowboarding.

Overview: GoPro HD Hero 3

Let’s start with the heavyweight in the room – the GoPro HD Hero 3. It was only just released a few hours ago, but they got so much talk and traffic that the website actually crashed right after the site opened for orders.

First, here’s the teaser from GoPro:

So overall there’s 3 versions of this new GoPro HD Hero 3:

  • GoPro HD Hero 3 White – $199.99
  • GoPro HD Hero 3 Silver – $299.99
  • GoPro HD Hero 3 Black – $399.99

What’s new in the GoPro HD Hero 3 White & Silver versions:

The White and Silver versions seem to be upgraded versions of the older HD Hero 1 and HD Hero 2 cameras.

Here are the main upgrades:

  • 25% Lighter and 30% Smaller
  • Wi-fi connectivity (change settings / check recording via app)
  • Tweaked/upgraded lens & mic

So basically these are your previous generation GoPros but upgraded with wi-fi built in and made a bit better overall. You still get the same 30 fps at 1080p recording (or 60 fps at 720p) like the previous generation GoPro HD Hero 2.

These are clearly meant to be a cheaper priced GoPro to compete with the low to mid ranged alternatives from competitors like Contour and Sony.

It should be noted that both the White and Silver versions are compatible with GoPro’s wi-fi remote, but do not actually come with the remote. If you want the remote you have to buy one for $79.

What’s new in the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black version:

GoPro HD Hero 3

Here’s where things get interesting. The Black version is a whole new GoPro with some very enticing features.

What you get:

  • 25% Lighter, 30% Smaller (same as White & Silver version)
  • Wi-fi connectivity + remote included
  • 2x image/video processing power – records video at 4k @ 12fps, 2.7k @ 30 fps, 1440p @ 48 fps, 1080p @ 60 fps, 720p @ 120 fps
  • 2x better low light performance
  • 12 megapixel photos with 30 fps burst photo capture
  • Upgraded lens & Mic (same as White & Silver version)

The key feature here is that besides being lighter and smaller, it got some brand new image and video recording upgrades.

Okay, so now let’s have a look at what Contour just released.

Overview: ContourROAM2 & Contour+2

Contour has a smaller following than GoPro, but that doesn’t mean their gear is bad, in fact, their new line is actually really nice. Over the past couple months they’ve released 2 cameras: The ContourROAM2 and the Contour+2.

Here is the teaser for the ContourROAM2:

The ContourROAM2 is priced at $199 and is their entry level camera meant to compete with GoPro’s White & Silver HD Hero 3.

Here’s the key features and upgrades:

  • Waterproof to one meter without case
  • Records 1080p @ 30fps, 720p @ 60fps (vs 720p @ 30fps on previous generation ContourROAM)
  • Comes in multiple colors (No real benefit – but you have to admit the colors look sweet)

Here’s the teaser for the Contour+2:

The Contour+2 is priced at $399 and is meant to compete directly with GoPro’s top of the line offering (ie the GoPro HD Hero 3).

Here are the key features for the Contour+2 as well as what it offers over the ContourROAM2:

  • Removable battery (ContourROAM2 has built in battery)
  • GPS and speed tracking
  • Bluetooth connection to phone via app
  • External mic jack (ContourROAM2 has no external mic jack)
  • Not waterproof without case but waterproof case is included (water resistant without case)
  • Records 1080p @ 30fps, 720p @ 60fps (same as ContourROAM2)

Which is best for snowboarding – GoPro HD Hero 3 Vs. ContourROAM2 & Contour+2

Alright, so that all said, which is best for snowboarding? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for, but here are my requirements and which cameras I think work best for which situations:

1) Low Profile

I’m aiming to spend half of every day on slope wearing my camera with a helmet mount. For me, that’s about 3 hours per day for 150+ days over the course of this coming season.

This means I want to be able to set it up and forget that it’s there. This means the more low profile it is, the better it is for me.

The Contour+2 and ContourROAM2 easily win the low profile battle here. You don’t have to use either Contour with a waterproof case while snowboarding and the side mounted option is a lot lower profile vs. the GoPro’s top/front helmet mount.

I have heard from other snowboarders that the GoPro is not really noticeable once it’s set up, but I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the GoPro’s teletubby look is more low profile than any of the Contour cameras.

Win: Contour+2 / ContourROAM2

2) Video quality

Before the GoPro HD Hero 3 came out today, I would have said the picture quality was pretty even between the Contour+2 and GoPro HD Hero 2.

What people don’t realize is that GoPro is very, very good at editing and selecting the video footage that gets posted on their YouTube account. That’s why their video quality always seems so far ahead of everyone else.

In reality the gap in video quality wasn’t that big and when Contour released the new Contour+2, the video quality was very comparable to the GoPro HD Hero 2.

Here you can see a comparison between the Contour+2 video quality and the GoPro HD Hero 2 (comparison video starts at 2:17 into video):

That said, now that the GoPro HD Hero 3 is out, I’d say GoPro definitely stole the crown on video quality.

The Contour+2 is using tweaked and upgraded optics from the previous generation, while the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black version has an entirely new optics system that does 1080p video at 60 fps.

The only competitor that might be able to compare to the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black right now would be the Sony Action Cam, but we’ll have to wait and see when people start doing side by side comparison videos using the new GoPro’s.

Either way, in this fight between Contour and the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black, the winner has to be GoPro for video/picture quality.

Win: GoPro HD Hero 3 Black

3) Price

If we compare the top of the line models from each company, the Contour+2 and GoPro HD Hero 3 Black are both $399. However, I do think that the HD Hero 3 Black comes out on top for value for money.

Simply put, the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black offers better picture and recording quality for the same price. I do think that the GPS and speed tracking features of the Contour+2 are cool, but it’s not something I’m particularly looking for in a camera.

That said, depending on which features you’re after, I do think the ContourROAM2 is the best choice if I was going for the entry level $199 price point.

You get a nice low profile, waterproof camera with picture quality roughly equal to the GoPro HD Hero 2 or HD Hero 3 White/Silver with a decent 60fps @ 720p video.

I’m a fan of low profile and the only drawbacks I can find with the ContourROAM2 at $199 is that the battery isn’t replaceable and there’s no option to use an external mic.

Those drawbacks may or may not matter depending on the person. If I didn’t need an external mic jack or want to have the option for extra batteries, the ContourROAM2 would be a very tempting choice at the $199 price point.

Win: GoPro HD Hero 3 (high price point), ContourROAM2 (low price point)

So which camera am I going with in the end?

I really love the ContourROAM2 because it was so much cheaper while offering great picture quality still, but unfortunately I want to use this camera for other things that might require an external mic and extra batteries, so I had to rule that out.

This leaves me with either the Contour+2 or the GoPro HD Hero 3.

If you had asked me last week before the GoPro HD Hero 3 was released, I would tell you I was very close to picking up a Contour+2. However, GoPro just had to release the HD Hero 3 and make everything confusing again!

I much prefer the Contour+2’s low profile, but I’m finding it hard to argue against the updated GoPro HD Hero 3 with the higher quality recording options and better picture quality.

Overall I’m leaning towards the GoPro HD Hero 3 right now, but I’m going to wait a couple weeks to see more in-depth reviews before I pull the trigger.

– Jed

"How To Pick The Perfect Snowboard Setup"
"Grab's Free Snowboard Gear Guide"
25 pages of free tips including how to pick snowboards, bindings, goggles, boots and much more!


  1. Can I also recommend the Drift Hd action camera? It’s smaller than both cameras and has an lcd screen built into it and comes with a remote control. It also ehoots in 1080p and a 170 degree view. It’s sick dude.

    • Yeah I did check out the Drift HD, it’s decent too, but unfortunately post was getting a little too long so I couldn’t stick in a comparison with the drift hd and the sony action cam which I also looked at.

      Overall from what I could tell from test footage and reviews, the Drift HD had solid video quality, but it was slightly behind Contour and GoPro when it came to total features and overall video quality.

  2. Can I also recommend the Drift Hd action camera? It’s smaller than both cameras and has an lcd screen built into it and comes with a remote control. It also shoots in 1080p and a 170 degree view. It’s sick dude.

  3. I’ve been pimping the Contour for the last year since I’ve had one. Everyone knows GoPro, but to me, the Contour was a much better unit, albiet slightly more expensive, but relatively unknown. Then the +2 was announced, and it was a very apple-esque stepwise improvement, it didn’t really bring anything new to the table. Regardless, I’ve been contemplating selling my + and upgrading to a +2.

    And then GoPro go and do this yesterday. 🙁 I have to admit, the Hero 3 Black is DEFINITELY the better camera. BUT, do I need 4K at 15 fps? Oh hell no. All my footage this year was filmed at 720p anyway, not even 1080p.

    Contour is going to have to meet those specs, and do it quickly, if they want to stay as one of the top two in the market. If they can’t, then I suspect GoPro will run away with Contour’s market share. 🙁

    • Yeah, I do hope Contour gets their game on and catches up. I still hold that if I could get a Contour camera with HD Hero 3 video power I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

      • Oh hell yeah, I would bounce on that sucker in a flash!

      • Just got my GOpro HD2 6 month ago, just used in my summer trip and video were great. Yes, bit of a teletubbies look but not too bad, people are always interested on what exactly is this little camera :).

        Grr, yes the HD3 looks awesome and thinking of selling my hd2 and buy it before going to Canada in december to finally snowboard after a year of waiting.

        I had the same dilemma when I bought the HD2 as I wanted to get the COntour Roam as well, but at the end I did use the Gopro HD2 for lots of other things, even pics as they came out very nice & with fish eye FX as well if you want to. Still haven’t use it on my helmet, so let’s see 🙂

        • Yeah looks like a lot of people thinking of trading up to the new hero3s. Not surprised though, the feature list is pretty impressive!

  4. I think the Hero3 was worth the wait, I purchased a Black Edition last night (HumbleOutdoors $360 w/free 32GB Mem). The integrated wi-fi was the tripping point for me.

  5. I’ve been looking for an action cam for ages. I was going for the contour when they brought out their app as I needed camera I could start and stop remotely. Of course their fist app didn’t have this function which was hugely annoying. So out comes the Contour+2 which now has that function. So was all set to but it. Then GoPro get their act together.
    So which to get now? I feel totally the same as the reviewer. The GoPro looks like the best performer, it now has a lot of the features that Contour had first, but it’s ugly and harder to mount.
    I would also like to find an audio comparison, something that is ignored in most of the reviews.
    I guess I will also be waiting to see what happens when these cameras have been out for a while. Will the prices change? Will Contour step up the game?

    • It’s going to be interesting for sure.

      I’m probably grabbing a GoPro Hero3 once they hit the stores in a week or two, so I’ll make sure I do a proper review of it.

      I think overall though audio quality from either camera is going to be pretty mediocre, you’re going to be far better off using an external mic hooked up to the camera.

      One thing that I think most reviews have been avoiding is battery life. Definitely needs to be more testing on the battery life, especially since GoPros haven’t had the best track record with long battery life in the past.

  6. Ive been using a hero 1 in Hokkaido Japan the past few days where its been dumping. In the past something I really liked about gopro was the dome shape of the camera housing which seemed to prevent powder spray from sticking to it. The snow here isnt super wet but has definitely been sticking. In looking at the hero3, im concerned the flat design of lens housing will mean spray from those face shots may stick constantly. Anyone have any experience with this?

    • Powder spray does stick if the snow isn’t super dry, but I recommend using Rain-X on the lens to fix this. It basically makes any moisture bead off the lens.

  7. I’ve always been a Contour guy since the first edition. I upgraded to the Contour+ when it came out and really loved it. I use it for snowboarding, mountain biking, and downhill biking. I’ve taken a ton of video in all sports (in Neisko, JP and Colorado). I have to say the biggest flaw is the 1080 @ 30fps. 1080 is where its at to get a solid picture, but 30 fps is WAY too slow when you’re doing normal speeds. The video seems to skip around because of the speed. So to get solid video of action sports, you’re stuck to the 720.
    SOOO, I’ve really been hoping for a 1080 @ 60. Looks like GoPro has done it. That’s the ultimate deal right there. I’m sure Contour will not be far behind though. So i’ll get the use out of my + until they bring out the higher fps. The Contour mounts so much easier and has a really nice profile, but the video quality is where its at and GoPro has that now. The battle is over….until Contour catches up. Not only do they need to bring out the 1080 @ 60, but it better be priced the same or people are going to start leaving Contour for GoPro…..including me.

  8. Now that the GoPro 3 has been out for a while I am curious to know what folks think of it compared to other similar cameras like a Contour. I bought a GoPro 3 Black on Wednesday and returned it today. Just turning the thing on and off was a challenge. I assumed it was just me until I started searching the web for instructions on shutting the camera off. It looked to me as though lots of people were having problems with the GoPro. Does any of that ring true with anyone else? I am trying to decide if I just got a bad camera and should give another one a try. Unfortunately, I had so much trouble with it that I never got to see any of the pictures

    • In the box that you got your GoPro there should have been a piece of paper with a link you need to go to if you need the manual. The online manual has details on how to turn it on/off and set up all the different settings.

      It takes 5-10 min to get used to the controls once you figure out which button does what, but after that I found it pretty easy.

      The Contour definitely has more intuitive controls, but the GoPro wins on picture quality and power for me. Recording 1080p at 60 fps is pretty awesome.

  9. Peter paulsen says:

    IMO you cannot compare those cameras because of the price levels, Contour are the best in it’s price area.
    If you have to compare the GoPro with a camera in that league tou have to put it up against the Sony AS15 and there GoPro will loose big time, AS15 are smaller, cheaper, more durable, better lens, better build in mike all in all a better camera

    • Unless the price has changed both GoPro 3 Black and Contour+2 both the same price.

      Also, from reviews so far on gizmodo/engadget, the Sony AS15 hasn’t been delivering as good performance as hoped. GoPro still came out on top vs. the Sony AS15.

  10. I wanted to write a follow up to my February 23 post. After returning the GoPro Hero 3 Black I bought a Contour +2. It is a very nice little camera and easy to use but the picture quality of the GoPro Hero 3 Black is really superior to the Contour. Before returning the GoPro I had a chance to shoot a number of short videos around the house. Those videos were all shot in 1440 at about 47 fps. They are very clear, sharp pictures. The videos I shot around the house with the Contour +2 are grainy and just not nearly as good. Those pictures were shot at 1080 at about 30 fps. I think the Contour pictures were a little better when I shot them in a lower pixel but faster fps but still nothing even close to the clarity of GoPro’s 1440 at 47 fps. Nevertheless, I may still just stick with the Contour because it is such an easy camera to use. but it is a tough decision because the GoPro definitely takes better pictures and has more features.

  11. Hi folks, just got a video from my buddy who was on the same skiing trip . He had Contour (perhaps not the latest version) and I had Hero3 Black. One thing upfront, I replaced my Hero1 since its chip had pretty narrow dynamic range and all bright white snow spots were washed out. I thought… should I put a gray filter on it or try Hero3B. Well, I sold Hero1 on ebay and got Hero3Black, no regrets so far. It is absolutely stunning (having gray filter handy but never used) especially after I looked at this Contour vid. Exactly same scenes were totally washed by Contour and its “HD” 1280×720 is just a joke even vs my old Hero1. I agree battery life is a strong upset after using Hero1. One GoPro/Wasabi battery lasted ca25min when shooting 1920×[email protected] (wifi remote off). BTW, re: Sony, I don’t care about bells/whistles like wi-fi and mic etc crap. This is an action sports POV camera. Perhaps AS15 looks more appealing given ~1/2 price and weight, but quality wise I doubt so. After all think about your season lift ticket, your gear and beer. Hey, Hero3 is just $400 which would last for long! Happy boarding/skiing 😉 If interested in comparing things I can provide a link to my video kept in the cloud )))

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