GARMIN Virb ELITE HD Action Camera
The newcomer GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera integrates GPS and training exercise features with a robust video recorder. The VIRB Elite presents a new way of thinking and possibilities to combine different activities with each other. Now allroad touring can enjoy the benefits of training devices in traveling and I am sure that this gets even more interesting in time.
GARMIN offers 2 models to choose from, the BASIC and the ELITE -model. The VIRB Elite offers on top of the basic model features the GPS parameters such as speed, altitude and location, but also WiFi connection with a smartphone and few advanced display features such as a digital camera leveling and a dash board functions. The VIRB Elite view finder allows to digitally level the camera which can be useful in motorcycling. The dash board function shows graphics and numerical information based on the GPS measurements and the heart rate. The VIRB Elite has also a special recording mode which starts automatically recording when the rider is in motion. When the riders stops, the recording stops too. This is practical feature in the traffic and city environments.
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera users benefit from the GARMIN`s enormous experience in GPS -technology and intelligent training. The VIRB Elite is able to combine the GPS and hear rate measurements with the video recording. This requires a ANT+ hear rate monitor belt, but could be an interesting add on for action riders going to the most extreme conditions and demanding routes making the ride an exercise. All this may be more interesting for sports and extreme hobbies like sky diving, but still additional information along side the video recording can`t be bad. The key GPS and heart rate monitoring features in VIRB Elite are:
- Distance from the starting point
- G -forces
- Heart rate
GARMIN Virb ELITE HD Action Camera Features
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera can be used with 5 buttons which is always more practical than operating with even fewer buttons. The VIRB Elite stars recording right away when pushing the REC slide button forward which makes recording so much simpler and quicker, but also saves the battery since the camera is switched off automatically by pushing the REC slide button backward. This features is practical when gloves are on and the camera is on the helmet or clamped to the handlebar for example. The basic VIRB can be controlled with GARMIN watches, separate remote controllers using the wireless ANT+ connection and the VIRB Elite with the smartphones and tablets through WiFi connection. Key standard GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera features are:
- 1080p / 30fps, 960p / 48fps, 720- / 60fps HD video modes in MP4 format
- 16 and 8MP still photos 4:3
- 12MP still photos 16:9
- Photo burst in 3/s at 16MP, 5/s at 8MP, 10/s at 8MP
- Time laps in 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60s intervals
- 1.4 inch color display (205*148)
- Internal microphone (external option)
- MicroSD memory card slot up to 64GB and at least speed class 10
- USB2.0, microHDMI, ANT+ and WiFi connections
- Weight 177g, 6.26oz (incl. battery)
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera has advanced digital picture stabilizer DIR which makes the recording even on bumpy roads possible. This is one of the most important features of any action camera in allroad touring use. The VIRB Elite has a WideVÜ 9 element lens which is able to record in wide angle, the middle and the narrow view positions. The typical barrel distortion effect of a wide angle fisheye lens is digitally cleared with the lens distortion correction LDC. The time laps mode allows to record slow motion activities in intervals which means that the recorded activity seems to run faster than in real life. This is an interesting GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera feature for longer scenery rides when the view changes slowly. The video loop is another practical mode to record just in case all the time and save specific parts of the recording only if there was something interesting to save.
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera can be controlled by using the 5 buttons on the side, few GARMIN devices with ANT+ feature, smartphones and tablet computers. The smartphone allows the rider to work with the settings, playback captures, start & stop recording, but also to snap still photos even while recording a video. By assigning the smartphone as a main controller and one of the VIRB Elites as a main camera, the rider can control several action cameras simultaneously. The VIRB Elite can be practically well operated in versatile ways, but the smartphone and table access is in motorcycle riding one of the most important aspects.
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera is one of the most aerodynamic alternative on the market which makes it even more interesting for allroad motorcycle riders. The VIRB Elite camera is IPX7 -waterproof, but requires additional housing below 1 meter down to 50 meter dives. Therefore motorcycle riders do not need any additional housing with the VIRB Elite like the competition. GARMIN offers a wide selection of mounts for the VIRB -models and there are e.g. typical handlebar, small tube, adhesive and helmet attachments.
GARMIN Virb ELITE HD Action Camera Battery Life
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera offers staggering plus 3 hours operational recording time using 1080p resolution. Using a spare battery in rotation, recording could go on all day long. The VIRB camera device itself can be recharged with a typical wall charger, USB connection and onboard 12V power outlet charger. The GARMIN offers additionally a separate battery charger base which is perfect for recharging onboard and rotating 2 batteries with the VIRB Elite camera. It would ensure that the rider could not easily run out of battery, but even if that happens, the VIRB Elite automatically stops recording and shuts down saving the recording.
GARMIN Virb ELITE HD Action Camera microSD Memory Cards
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera requires at least a speed class 10 microSD memory card as storage. The VIRB Elite supports memory cards up to a 64GB storage capacity which is more than enough. I would recommend to use rather several microSD cards instead of one single card with huge capacity. This is relevant from the card failure point of view and therefore I recommend to use only quality brand memory cards which would easily reduce the risk to loose some of the recordings. The capture could be a once in a life time moment which is simply irreplaceable.
The micro SDXC extended capacity cards support even up to 2TB storage capacity and the microSDHC high capacity cards up to 32GB which is quite enough for most of us. The speed class rating indicates the minimum recording and card reading performance. The speed class 10 applies for full HD video and still photo recording by providing at least 10MB/s performance and the GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera requires at least that.
GARMIN Virb ELITE HD Action Camera Considerations
I know one way to improve the GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera even more. Simply by integrating all GARMIN motorcycle navigators fully with the VIRB so that motorcycle riders could access the camera settings and be able to adjust the angle of view through bigger navigator screens. This way there would be no need for any additional remote controllers in the limited MC cockpit environment. I know it would be perfect setup with the GARMIN Zumo LM660 GPS navigator in my GSA. Furthermore there would be an opportunity to benefit from the existing navigator GPS features and offer a motorcycle VIRB MC model without the additional GPS -components which would save some space, weight and costs. There are already GARMIN BackUp accessories for RV drivers and a step up to advanced MC -features would be really short and a unique combination compared to alternatives.
GARMIN Virb Editing Software
The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera footage can be edited with a free GARMIN Virb EDIT software that synchronizes the GPS and ANT+ heart rate monitoring files with each other. The GPS data is automatically collected with the VIRB Elite, but the rider with the basic VIRB camera model can also use a separate navigator GPX -file the same way. Similar to that the ANT+ heart rate monitoring data can be imported to the program and easily integrated with the video recording. Editing tools are very simple and allow to combine different clips in any order you like. The VIRB Edit allows to export and share the complete video directly in the social media such as the YouTube. Here`s a short presentation of VIRB Edit by GARMIN:
GARMIN Virb ELITE HD Action Camera Comparison
Compared to the market leader GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition HD action camera, the GARMIN Virb ELITE provides bigger 1,4 inch color display for quick and easy view angle adjustments, settings and replay. Also VIRB Elite camera is more aerodynamic and creates less turbulence, but the attachments play a role in aerodynamics too and HERO3+ offers competitive mounts. The VIRB Elite is some 30% heavier than the HERO3+, but that can be also an advantage in the riding turbulence. From the operating point of view, the VIRB Elite offers at least the same level of practicality as the HERO3+, but on top there is a bigger display and more buttons to work with settings more directly. Close call, but I think that the VIRB Elite is slightly better.
On the other hand, GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition HD action camera offers top quality footage beyond the typical requirements and professional editing features. The GARMIN Virb ELITE HD action camera simply aims to please the action sports fans by integrating GPS and training exercise features with the recording. They both serve very well the allroad touring rider`s needs and yet they are some what different. I see a lot of potential in the GARMIN world and expect to see soon improvements with the VIRB too. This can be a clear differentiation factor between these cameras.
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