Garmin Gets into the Action Camera Market

Garmin's new VIRB and VIRB Elite are designed to compete with GoPro Hero series in the action camera market.

Garmin's New VIRB Elite Action Camera

Garmin has jumped into the action camera market with the VIRB and VIRB Elite waterproof HD cameras.Courtesy Garmin

Garmin International Inc., a major player in the satellite navigation market, today announced it has entered the action camera market with the VIRB, its first true HD action camera series. Such devices are also known as point-of-view (POV) cameras.

VIRB combines a unique feature set that makes it easy to use, according to Garmin. VIRB features a rugged and waterproof (IPX-7) housing, so there is no extra case necessary to withstand the elements. The built-in 1.4-inch Chroma color display allows for setup and playback and uses minimal power. VIRB can record up to three hours of true HD (1080p) video on one charge, Garmin says. A display is optional on GoPro Hero cameras.

Video enhancement features such as digital image stabilization and lens distortion correction ensure that footage recorded with VIRB will look great, even before editing. VIRB can capture high quality still photos while the video camera is recording. VIRB Elite incorporates all these features, plus has built-in WiFi, data sensors and a high-sensitivity GPS. Both VIRB and VIRB Elite feature ANT+ connectivity for remote control functionality with other Garmin products, and for data transfer with other sensors.

“Action cameras are growing rapidly in popularity, and VIRB has some game-changing key features—like a color display, extended battery life, optional GPS and compatibility with existing Garmin products—that set it apart from other cameras on the market,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales.

To record HD video with the VIRB POV camera, you move the slider forward. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery can record up to three hours of video with one charge, and can be easily changed on the go. VIRB is durable enough to capture even the most extreme activities right out of the box. With the rugged external housing, VIRB can withstand accidental immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. An optional dive case is available for deep-sea adventures, as well as a wide variety of other rugged mounts to secure VIRB to boat rails and boat hooks. VIRB easily snaps into the mounts, and the teeth linkages tightly secure VIRB in place to prevent drooping and sagging in high vibration environments. There's also an available industry standard mounting adapter, making it easy for existing action camera users to get started with VIRB.

VIRB has a micro HDMI output for convenient video playback and a microSD slot that can hold up to 64GB card (64GB microSD card can hold over seven hours of 1080p video).

VIRB Elite incorporates all these features, as well as high-sensitivity GPS, accelerometer, altimeter and WiFi. WiFi capabilities allow users to connect to the free mobile applications for iPhone and Android. VIRB Elite comes equipped with specific activity profiles so users can track location, speed, elevation, heart rate (monitor sold separately) and more while recording. This data can be reviewed right on the device, or can be embedded into their video during the editing process.

To complement VIRB Elite, Garmin is launching a mobile application for preview, playback and remote functionality, along with a free desktop software application to edit and upload VIRB and VIRB Elite videos. With this software, users can edit their footage and embed sensor data in the video, then share or upload to social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

VIRB and VIRB Elite will be widely available for purchase in September 2013, according to Garmin. MSRP for the MRP is $299.99, and VIRB Elite is $399.99.

To learn more about POV cameras, check out our comparison of these devices in BoatingLAB.