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Garmin Announces New Virb X and Virb XE HD Cameras

By adminon - Read 9514 times

Garmin have just announced two new action camera models that will be released this summer. The Virb X and the Virb XE are the latest attempt from the US founded company to establish themselves as more than just a sports equipment and navigation manufacturer. The original Garmin Virb action cam was released just less than two years ago, and showed that Garmin can do cameras too. After the release of the Virb, which was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from both users and critics alike, they then introduced the Virb Elite, which added new functionality and recording options.

The new Virb X and Virb XE cameras seem to be quite a step up from the Virb Elite, and it appears that the duo is a response from Garmin to the GoPro Hero 4 series which was released last year. However, the focus of Garmin seems to be different to that of GoPro.

First thing we noticed, was the change in design from the original Virb cameras. Garmin have moved away from the flatter, elongated design that we saw in their first models and instead have adopted the more square approach, resembling that of the Sony and GoPro devices. In their press release Garmin brings attention to the flat lens cover in the front, aimed to help water in sliding off easier.

At this point, with the original Virb being released in 2013 - we decided not to focus on how Garmin has improved on its previous Virb - but rather with how it compares to one of the most popular modern action cams out there today, the mid-level GoPro Hero 4 Silver.

Recording vs Connectivity/Functionality

Many would have expected the new Virb X and Virb XE to support 4k video recording, as it's a direction where most action cam manufacturers seem to be focusing. However, the Virb X will only offer a maximum recording resolution of 1080p, while the Virb XE will allow for 1440p at 30fps. By comparison, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver offers users up to 15fps at 4K, 30fps at 2.7k and up to 48fps at 1440p - as well as offering the standard HD recording options.

Instead of focusing on increasing resolution, Garmin have put their trust in the development of connectivity and storage. Despite falling short on recording options both the Virb X and the Virb XE surpass the Hero 4 Silver in terms of connectivity and increased storage capability. Whether or not this will be as easy to sell as telling people that the camera can record 4k video, is yet to be seen, but perhaps Garmin is onto something. Despite the ability to record in 4k video, in every day practice it is not often that one will actually be able to make proper use of that resolution of recording, and most individuals still record at 1080p.

Of particular interest to skydivers, is the added ability to overlay recorded data through both standard camera functionality, as well as extra information which can be included through the connectivity between the camera and a sports device. This means that pitch and roll data, speed data, elevation and more can be recorded and overlaid onto the video. See the video below for a demonstration of what is available with the new Virb cameras.

Unlike the Hero 4 Silver, both of the new Virb cameras will come with GPS built in. Both the Virb and Virb XE will take Micro-SD cards, and support up to 128GB cards. Both the earlier Virb Elite and the GoPro Hero 4 Silver support up to 64GB cards, so the fact that the new Garmin cameras can handle double the storage space, will definitely be marked as a big positive by many.

Other noteworthy functionality:

  • The inclusion of a gyroscope based accellerometer is another feature that is not present in a lot of the other action cameras currently on the market.

  • Both the Virb X and the Virb XE will also be waterproof to 50m, without needing any additional casing.

  • Both cameras will have multi-camera live control and preview for up to 10 cameras.

  • ANT+ connectivity



Pricing

On paper it appears as though the Virb X and Virb XE are going to be valid choices to look at when looking to buy one of the new action cameras on the market. They look good, offer some great functionality and did I mention that they were well priced?

The Virb X will retail for just $299 while you'll need to drop $399 for the Virb XE.

Final Thoughts

Despite being stuffed with great new connectivity and some nifty new features, there are some questions

raised over the choice to stick to limited recording options for both cameras. Currently the Virb X offers

very limited options even for recording in 1080p in comparison to its competition. The Virb X offers only 25 and

30fps at 1080p, where we would have liked to see 60fps being offered. Similarly, Garmin could have really

put their foot down by offering 4k recording on the Virb XE.

Because of the low price though, if 4k recording isn't on your list of priorities but you find yourself

wanting the flexibility of being able to shoot at 1080p/60fps, the Virb XE can offer you that.

The real test is yet to come when subjects like how it handles transition between lighting conditions, low

light noise levels and video quality can be tested hands on.

Compare the Virb X, Virb XE and GoPro Hero 4 Silver










































































































































































Feature Garmin Virb X Garmin Virb XE GoPro Hero4 Silver
Wifi Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes
Accellerometer Yes Yes No
Preview Screen No No Yes
GPS Yes Yes No
Recharge Method USB USB Mini-USB
Recording Time 2 Hours 2 Hours 2 Hours
Storage Type Micro-SD Micro-SD Micro-SD
Maximum Storage Size 128GB 128GB 64GB
4K Recording No No 12.5/15 fps
2.7k Recording No No 24/25/30 fps
1440p Recording No 30 fps 24/25/30/48 fps
1080p Recording 25/30 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
960p Recording 25/30 fps 50/60/100 fps 50/60/100 fps
720p Recording 25/30/50/60 fps 25/30/50/60/100/120 fps 35/50/60/100/120 fps
WVGA Recording 120 fps 240 fps 240 fps
Camera Megapixels 12 MP 12 MP 12 MP
Burst Mode 10 p/sec 30 p/sec 30 p/sec
Sport Computer Control Yes Yes No
ANT+ Connectivity Yes Yes No
Sport Data Overlay Yes (Garmin Apps) Yes (Garmin Apps) No
Phone Remote Connectivity Yes Yes Yes
Multi-Cam Control Up to 10 Cams Up to 10 Cams No
USB Connection USB USB Mini-USB
Micro-HDMI No No Yes
Price $299 $399 $399

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shropshire
Yuk - why move away from the sensible form factor to the shite GoPro one? :-(

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hokierower
I wonder what the refresh rate for the GPS is and how accurate it is. Would be interesting to be able to have a camera that was capable of acting like a flysight.

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parachutist
Garmin hasn't released much info. What are the FOV options? Will the image stabilizer work at all FOV settings? Can it shoot simultaneous photos and video? If so, at what rate? How is the microSD card accessed (Does the whole camera housing need to break open)? Is the lens cover easily replaceable? Can the image be inverted?

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