Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Adventure Tech: Garmin Virb X and XE Action Camera Challenges GoPro

We all know that the GoPro cameras are the kings of the action cam category, but that doesn't mean there aren't worthy challengers to that crown. In fact, when I reviewed the Garmin Virb Elite camera a year ago, I found it to be an excellent alternative to the GoPro hegemony, offering up some excellent features that had yet to be implemented in Hero line.

But a lot has changed in a year, and GoPro continues to refine and improve their cameras. Last fall, the company released its Hero 4 line, improving an already great product with some excellent new options. But Garmin hasn't been standing still either, and earlier this week they announced an outstanding new addition to the Virb line-up in the form of the X and XE models.

The new Virb cameras come with a completely redesigned body that more resembles a traditional action cam. Previously this product was elongated in shape, but now it is a bit more rectangular, making it easier to grip. The body is ruggedized as well, and built to take the inevitable punishment we'll throw at it in our outdoor pursuits. It is even waterproof down to 50 meters right out of the box, without the need to add an additional housing.

While the standard X model of the Virb maintains the same tech specs as last year (1080p video @ 30fps), the XE received some nice technical upgrades. It is now capable of shooting 1080p at 60 fps, or even 1440p at 30 fps. That is a nice upgrade of course, but falls short of the 4k video that the GoPro, and some of its competitors, are capable of.

The XE does have a new "Pro" mode that gives the user more manual control over the settings, and both models continue to include Garmin's impressive data collecting capabilities which track speed, distance, elevation, location, temperature, and a whole lot more. That data can than be incorporated directly into your videos using the Virb's free editing software.

All in all, this looks like a worthy update to an already impressive action camera. If you don't need 4k video – which is difficult to edit or watch in full resolution at this point – than the Virb delivers some other impressive features that are certainly worth a look. Check it out in action in the video below to get a better idea of what Garmin has delivered here.

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