Garmin VIRB: the action cam with satellite data

Should GoPro be worried? New action camera from Garmin comes with speed and altitude readings.
Garmin VIRB viewfinder
Garmin VIRB © Garmin
By Andy Pag

Famous for their GPSs, Garmin's debut action camera has perked the interest of industry watchers since it was unveiled a couple of months ago.

It's rugged, waterproof, straps to your helmet/bike/board and shoots video at High Def 1080p and 16mp images (versus 1440p and 12mp for GoPro's Hero3+). All standard stuff for action cameras....

Garmin VIRB black and grey
Garmin VIRB black and grey © Garmin

But what sets it apart is its inbuilt altimeter, GPS and accelerometer. This means that cool data such as your speed, altitude, location or how many G's you racked up on that spiral dive is automatically displayed on-screen — a very handy feature, whatever your sport. It also gives you a track of where you've been that you can use to impress your mates — or not.

Garmin VIRB black and grey with mount
Garmin VIRB black and grey mount © Garmin

Another unique feature is that it's ANT+ meaning it can be paired with other devices such as heart rate monitors so you can see just how scared you really were when you hucked that cliff.

The VIRB even remembers to film if you forget. In ski-mode the camera automatically switches to standby when it senses you're on the chairlift. At the top it starts rolling again when you do. Another plus is the display screen, which makes setting up a lot easier.

Bulky buttons make for easy operation, even when wearing gloves and the manufacturers claim one charge will give three hours of full quality video.

The downside? At just over 200g, including cradle, it feels on the heavy side especially when helmet mounted. Given that this is what the 136g GoPro does so well, it may be that execs at the  California-based market leader can rest easy. For now...

Garmin VIRB Elite €399


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