Garmin has unveiled its first 1080p action camera, and it seems to have all the makings of a GoPro killer.
So why would you want to buy this over the more established GoPro? For a start Garmin is a strong brand that's been developing military and aviation-grade kit for decades. Second, it seems Garmin has taken all the best bits of the GoPro and overcome some of its weaknesses.
The VIRB Elite (a version with built-in Wi-Fi, accelerometer, altimeter and, of course, GPS) can manage 1080p resolution video (at 30fps, unless you go 720p at 60fps) with image stabilisation and lens distortion correction. It can also manage 16-megapixel stills, burst shots, time lapse, and will even shoot photos while recording video. The GoPro Hero3 Black can manage 1080p at 60fps. It can do 4K video, but at 15fps who's really going to use it for action video? Nevertheless the GoPro wins on frame rate, if not on sensors.
The GoPro Hero3 Black has a battery life of about one hour and a half at 1080p/30fps - the Garmin VIRB has a whopping three hours. Chalk up a point for the VIRB. It also manages to one-up the GoPro further with a built-in 1.4-inch Chroma colour display, allowing you to frame and watch back video easily.
As if all that wasn't enough both VIRBs work with ANT+ sensors, meaning you can link it to your heart rate monitor, cadence bike sensor, speed sensor and more, for realtime recording of your performance as you watch back your efforts cycling, running - whatever.
Plus you won't need a case, because VIRB's rugged casing has an IPX-7 rating which means it can sit down to 1 metre deep for half an hour, with a dive case option for those who need to go deeper. It also has a selection of mounts for whatever sports you choose.
VIRB supports microSD up to 64GB, like the GoPro, but unlike GoPro it also has an HDMI output for instant video playback on a big screen. You can use the mobile app for footage viewing, or as a remote control, and there's a ski mode that automatically detects your movement and turns on as you ski down the mountain but shuts off to save power when you're on the lift up.
The Garmin VIRB and VIRB Elite will launch in October for £270 and £350 respectively, conveniently undercutting the GoPro Hero3 Black by a tenner.
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