Olathe, Kan. – Garmin International revealed Tuesday that it has entered the action video camera category, offering what it calls its “first true HD 1080p action camera series,” including a model with built-in GPS functionality.
The two-model Garmin VIRB action video camera series is part of the GPS-product company’s expanding lineup of outdoor devices.
The VIRB cameras feature a rugged and waterproof (IPX-7) housing, a 1.4-inch Chroma color video display, up to three hours of recording/playback time per charge, digital image stabilization and lens distortion correction.
The VIRB can also capture high quality still photos while the video camera is recording, the company said.
VIRB can take 16 megapixel stills with photo burst and time lapse options. A micro HDMI output is offered for video playback and a microSD slot can hold up to a 64GB card (64GB microSD card can hold over seven hours of 1080p video).
The top-end VIRB Elite ($400 suggested retail) adds built-in WiFi, data sensors, altimeter and a high-sensitivity GPS, to the base VIRB model ($300) feature set.
WiFi capabilities in the Elite edition 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) while recording.
Both VIRB and VIRB Elite feature ANT+ connectivity for remote control functionality with other Garmin products, and for data transfer with other fitness 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 worldwide sales VP. “Our customers already embrace an active lifestyle, whether they’re hikers, mountain bikers, skiers, trail runners, boaters, or pilots, so a Garmin action camera is a compelling option to them. With GPS and enhanced wireless capabilities in VIRB Elite, users can capture not only what they were doing, but also where they were and how they did it—and then share it with their friends and family.”
The cameras are said to offer a sleek, aerodynamic design and include rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, a “WideVü” wide-angle lens, 1.4-inch Chroma display that supports menu settings, set-up and playback shots, and uses reflective technology to conserve power. The IPX-7 waterproof rating (can withstand accidental immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes).
An optional dive case is available for deeper action. Garmin also offers a wide variety of other mounts to secure VIRB to handlebars, helmets, surfboards and more.
An available industry standard mounting adapter is offered for existing action camera users to get started.
The lens distortion correction feature gives users the option to automatically remove the fish-eye look that is common with action cameras. In addition to high quality video,
Additionally, in Ski Mode, the VIRB Elite can recognize the difference between going down a mountain and going up the ski lift. In this setting, VIRB Elite automatically turns on and starts recording when going down the mountain, and then goes into standby mode once on the ski lift. The feature is said to save battery and memory space, and keeps the user from forgetting to record when going down the mountain.
Using ANT+ VIRB owners can also control the camera using an optional accessory remote (available Q1 2014), as well as the Garmin Edge 810, fēnix, quatix, Oregon 600 series, and other devices.
VIRB Elite is compatible with other sensors with ANT+ connectivity such as the heart rate monitor, cadence sensor and tempe temperature sensor. This data can then be embedded into the video during the editing process, or viewed on the display of VIRB Elite.
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.
The software enables easily editing footage and embedding sensor data in the video.