Garmin VIRB Elite - first look

First impression of the GoPro Hero 3+ Black rival

Garmin VIRB handlebar mounts and chest straps have been pitching up in the BikeRadar office for a couple of months now, but until today the real meat and potatoes – the camera itself – was still to arrive.   

The wifi and GPS-enabled VIRB Elite (US$399.99; £349.99; AU$499) – a new rival to the latest from GoPro, the Hero 3+ Black action camera – showed up in the office today. Our first impressions are that it will have been worth the wait.

It's fairly weighty but solid feeling unit. We reckon it could stand up to some serious knocks. We particularly like the rubberised external casing and the big buttons and slide-to-start-recording system that looks inspired by Contour's design. 

The camera is built on the horizontal plane rather than a vertical like the GoPro. That'll make it look sleek mounted on a helmet or handlebars, but we're not sure how it'll feel in the shoulder harness.

Initial menu setup is really straightforward and has all the hallmarks of Garmin's intuitive mode navigation. It's a pleasure to use compared to GoPro's more laborious setup.

The top-mounted colour LCD screen in live mode is pretty low-res but a really useful reference for setting up shots – and at least you know its not chowing up the claimed three hours of battery life at 1,080p high-def resolution.

There's a good range of footage quality options, ranging from 1,080p at 30 fps (frames per second) down to super slow-mo options at 848x480 at 120fps.

Of course, looks are one thing and the real test is footage quality and how easy it is to use the VIRB's expansive functionality. Stay tuned for a full review. Or while away some time watching our sample footage below.

Video: BikeRadar's sample footage from the Garmin VIRB Elite

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