Who’s it for? A robust and intuitive full HD action cam, ideal for keeping in a pocket. www.garmin.com
I bought the original GoPro HERO with a waterproof housing, yet never really found it user-friendly. As a comparative HD action cam, however, this Garmin Virb XE is so much easier and more pleasant to use. Anyone, however technophobic they might be, can pick up this Virb, flick the record button and start filming HD footage.
Moreover, the Virb is fully waterproof to 50m so you don’t have to keep it in a case (which can fog up with condensation) and, without a separate housing, the Virb picks up reasonable sound too. There is a secure locking panel for accessing the removable battery – the rechargeable one supplied lasts for two hours of filming.
The compact and robust X and XE models lack the mini screen of the original Virb Elite, which is my one main negative point. Like the newer GoPro models, however, you can view the live Virb footage remotely on an app via wi-fi – and it uses similar thumbscrew-style mounting kits to GoPro cams.
I’ve used the XE with some success to shoot video from the rail at regattas or for boat tests. A one-inch display makes it simple to scroll through menu options, and a useful feature I use regularly is the dedicated photo button that takes stills at any time, even while the camera is recording video.
The main improvements over the original Elite are in picture resolution, an increased variety of mounting options and a new G-Metrix program which, using built-in GPS and accelerometer, means it can capture action data such as speed, acceleration, height and G-force.
The Virb XE is the high-end model that can shoot professional HD footage at 1440p/30fps and 1080p/60fps, and includes super slow-mo and time-lapse options as well as image stabilisation. Picture quality has proved to be reliably good, through a full range of light levels.
www.garmin.com Tested by Toby Hodges
The Virb is now one of my most constant travel companions.