Garmin has just announced the next generation of its VIRB action sports cameras. The new VIRB X and XE represent a total overhaul of the series – and on the surface, at least, appear to have taken a design cue or two from action-cam market leader GoPro.
The new VIRB XE and X are claimed to shoot rich high-definition wide-angle footage and are waterproof to 50m without the need for an external housing. At a claimed 152g and 37mm tall, the new VIRBs are equal in weight to a GoPro with a housing and sit lower.
The US$400 VIRB XE can film in 1440p at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps for smooth slow motion. The XE also features image stabilisation and Pro mode, the latter enabling manual camera adjustments of white balance, sharpness control, colour profile control, ISO limit, exposure bias and more.
At US$300, the slightly cheaper VIRB X can shoot in 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 60fps.
Both versions feature different zoom options, a dedicated still image sensor and camera button for on-the-fly 12MP photos. While it's too early to pass judgment, we’re a little disappointed at the lack of 4k resolution, with both the new Sony Action Camera and GoPro Hero 4 Black edition offering 4k at 30fps.
A flat glass hydrophobic lens should make for clear underwater shots and shed pesky water droplets. The new cameras also feature more secure mounts with a “non-slip Allen head tightening system, allowing maximum torque for impact and vibration resistance”.
The VIRB XE and X also get a new microphone for improved audio, and Bluetooth audio connectivity for enabled headsets and microphones.
Garmin VIRB XE promotional video
The cameras feature high-sensitivity GPS, accelerometers, and gyroscopes and can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, ANT+ or Wi-Fi for pairing with enabled devices. An updated ‘G-Metrix’ feature can utilise these internal and external sensors and accessories to track movements in real time and capture a range of performance data. For the petrolheads among us, both of the new cameras are also compatible with Bluetooth EOD tools for recording true vehicle data like speed, RPM and throttle position.
Wi-Fi connectivity also enables users to connect to the XE and X through the VIRB mobile app, and see a live stream from the camera, control and view multiple cameras, overlay G-Metrix data such as power, heart rate and speed, and upload and share video.
Apparently users will be able track the last known GPS location of their camera for easy recovery in case of loss, although exact details of how this will work are scarce.
The new VIRB cameras retain a high contrast 1in display, but lose an hour of claimed battery life when filming at 1080p – going from three hours down to two.
The new cameras are due to land this summer (northern hemisphere). UK and Australian pricing is still to be confirmed.