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Initial thoughts on Garmin VIRB sports camera with ANT+ connectivity


My Full In-Depth Review of the VIRB and VIRB Elite has been published! Check it out here!

On Tuesday Garmin announced their entry into the sports action camera market – a market currently dominated by GoPro, with a slew of other companies behind it (such as Contour and many others). The introduction of the Garmin VIRB (that’s the name of the camera) serves to further diversify Garmin’s products, but more importantly, solidify relationships with existing products and investments.

Perhaps the single feature of most interest to folks here (and really, the only reason I’m interested in it) is the inclusion of an ANT+ sensor in the unit. This allows the unit to pair with your existing heart rate, speed, cadence and temperature sensors (Tempe) to then overlay that information onto the video later in post-processing.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a pretty significant rise of race videos – especially in the cycling segment – that have included such data. But the reality is getting such data onto your video is actually a bit of a pain in the butt (well, a ‘bit’ is being polite). It required merging files, using 3rd party software, and praying to the synchronization gods it all worked. For those that did it frequently, they generally got good results. But that left the other 99% of the population endlessly asking on YouTube “How’d you do that?”.

Now, before we go further into my thoughts I give you one initial thought: I typically try and avoid doing full posts on new products unless said product is in my hands. I do this primarily because I give marketing folks about as much leeway as the calipers holding the brakes next to my wheels – and I find that companies typically leave out tiny details that make the difference between an awesome product and a sucky product. Thus, the reason I’m writing about it is simply that I’ve been flooded with requests about my thoughts on it.

At present, I don’t have a unit in my hands. I’m working with Garmin to get one in my hands shortly for a review, but it’s not here today. That said, I did trade e-mails regarding a number of questions I had and have a bit better understanding of some of the details that I think do matter.

The Basics:


Looking at the device from a spec-standpoint, the device packs some solid functionality:

– 1080p@30fps, 960p@48fps, 720p@30/60fps, 848×480@120fps
– Units are waterproof to 3ft (1m) for 30 minutes (IPX7), a 50m deep dive case offered next year
– A small display for viewing the live feed on the top
– A huge number of mounts (chest, wrist, auto, tripod, head, helmet, bike, base, adjustable arm, etc…)
– 3 hours of battery life (removable/rechargeable battery)
– Photo Bursting and Timelapse capabilities
– ANT+ connectivity
– Elite Only: WiFi (bgn), Barometric Altimeter

The aspects that intrigue me the most are the waterproofing (submergible), ANT+ connectivity and barometric altimeter, plus the small screen on top. I’m impressed with the shear quantity of mounts as well – mounts can do and drive purchasing decisions of action cameras.

Looking at image quality is something that specs typically won’t tell the full story (and the story on video specs is mixed, it doesn’t have as good resolution at higher framerates). You can have great sensor specs on paper, but terrible execution can result in bad video. One area that surprised me is actually the promo video that was put together. In my opinion, this video did nothing to help the cause.

Coming from the world of extremely well executed GoPro promotional videos that make you want to go right outside and surfboard with the worlds hottest looking athletes (despite never having been on a surfboard, skateboard, or any sort of board), this made me want to close the video and move onto cat videos. Second, the video shots shown with the unit didn’t seem to scream “awesome quality”. This is likely because instead of using inspiring clips from kick-ass places, they used ones from someone’s backyard. It’s all about marketing (a lesson Contour has learned the hard way) – and in this round, Garmin seemed to lose my interest.

ANT+ Overlay:


Thankfully, I’m more of a tech person than a marketing person. So while they lose my interest in the promo video, it’s the ANT+ piece that really interests me. As noted above, lots of folks are using data overlays today with heart rate and related information – but none of it is smooth.

The VIRB works by pairing directly to your ANT+ sensors (they can still pair concurrently to your other fitness units). It then records this data in a separate and synchronized file for later consolidation and overlay. It’s not actually overlaying the data in real-time onto the video (that’s actually a good thing).

Out of the gate they’ll allow you to include these ANT+ (and internal) metrics: Speed, Distance, Elevation, G-force, Heart Rate, Temperature.

Here’s where these metrics come from:

Speed: Internal GPS
Distance: Internal GPS
Elevation: Barometric Altimeter on Elite
G-Force: Internal accelerometer
Heart Rate: ANT+ Heart Rate Strap
Temperature: ANT+ Tempe temperature pod

Now, you’ll note the lack of power meter support. I asked about that and they said it’s coming in an update, but didn’t specify a timeframe for such update. Hopefully that’ll happen soon – as I’d expect that would drive a lot of cycling criterion folks to pickup the unit.

The unit records all the data streams and then allows you to select which data streams you’d like to place on the video afterwards using the software. I’d like to see just about any ANT+ metric added though as an option. In short: If I can add the data field on the Garmin Edge 810, I want to be able to overlay that here. Given it’s done in software post-processing (using the VIRB Edit software), it could easily record the data in the FIT file anyway, so it’s really a matter of giving you the option to add it.

Recording File Details:


Given you’ve now got video mixed with GPS and sensor data, the next question is how that data is recorded from a file standpoint. While some might think it be advantageous to have a single file with all data in it, in reality that breaks many 3rd party applications. So it’s better to have synchronized files that pair up together to form the full picture. Which, is what the VIRB does.

The unit records a .FIT file for the entire duration the camera is turned on. Then, it also records a .GPX (GPS) file and a corresponding .MP4 (video) for each recording. The strength to this is that these three files are industry standard and any 3rd party app can easily consume them.

I talked with the Kinomap folks yesterday, they make software that allows you to re-ride outdoor rides indoors on a trainer using videos such as these. I covered Kinomap in the apps section of my KICKR review. The Kinomap folks are pretty excited about this because it adds another name-brand option that does the synchronization automatically. Today, the Contour GPS also does this, though without any ANT+ data.

Garmin Fitness Device Integration:


The VIRB allows you to control the camera and setup sensors from some of your Garmin devices. Initially that’ll be the Garmin Edge 810 and the Garmin Fenix (hiking/outdoor watch). Both will receive firmware updates to add the capability. Further, Garmin states that “we will look at other products” once they get beyond initial product launch (as far as other fitness products to allow control from).

The Edge 810 makes complete sense, given the cycling dominance. But, I’m not fully clear on the thinking with the Fenix – given that’s an outdoor watch focused more towards hikers and ultra runners – neither of which have a dominant YouTube space carved out for action camera footage. That said, I’m always happy to see integration.

But I’d like to see it be across the board on any new products Garmin launches down the road (i.e. running or cycling), as I think that’d drive adoption. I’d also like to see it added to at least the Edge 510. I don’t suspect it’s realistic to add it to the Edge 500/800 (though I’d love to see it), given those products won’t really see any further feature enhancements given the 510/810 additions this past January.

The control of the camera uses the standard ANT+ Remote Control device profile, which does mean that any 3rd party ANT+ device or application (i.e. phone app) could take advantage of it and control it. This is pretty cool. Now, don’t confuse however ANT+ control of the unit with some of the cell phone connectivity I talk about below. ANT+ wouldn’t be a good option for streaming video, as it’s more geared towards low-power solutions.

Cell Phone Connectivity:


The VIRB Elite includes WiFi, which in turn allows connectivity to cell phones. This is similar to what GoPro has done with WiFi in recent years. Note that it doesn’t leverage Bluetooth. This is both good and bad. Bluetooth tends to be less finicky than WiFi for creating networks between devices and cell phones. In my experience with the GoPro units, the WiFi networks you setup are great when they work, but often can act like a toddler. However the reason for using WiFi over Bluetooth is simply range – WiFi goes farther…a lot farther.

The WiFi connectivity today is focused on control of the device from your phone or computer – including a preview, but doesn’t appear to include any stream recording or sharing yet (like GoPro has recently added). I suspect in time we’ll see this feature set improve a bit.

New Section!

While here at Eurobike today (Aug 28th), I had the chance to spend some hands-on time with the unit.  Below is a full gallery from that.

Product Comparison Table:

I’ve thrown together a quick look at how the VIRB stacks up against the GoPro variants (there are three GoPro options that have some both insignificant and significant differences).

Note that you should click the ‘expand table’ to get the full table expanded out below it.

Function/FeatureGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated March 16th, 2016 @ 7:21 am New Window
WiFi BuiltinNoYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Recording LightYesYesYesYesYes
GPS builtinNoYesNoNoNo
Altimeter builtinNoYes - BarometricNoNoNo
Water ResistantIPX7 (1 meter for 30 mins), separate 50m dive case availableIPX7 (1 meter for 30 mins), separate 50m dive case available60m with included case60m with included case60m with included case
Video Preview ScreenBuiltinBuiltinAccessoryAccessoryAccessory
BatteryGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
Recharges viaMini-USBMini-USBMini-USBMini-USBMini-USB
Removable batteryYes / 2000 mAhYes / 2000 mAhYes / 1050 mAhYes / 1050 mAhYes / 1050 mAh
Recording Time3 hours3 hours2.5 hours2 hours1.5 hours
Secondary attached batteryNoNoAccessoryAccessoryAccessory
StorageGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
Storage Card TypeMicroSD CardMicro-SDMicroSD CardMicroSD CardMicroSD Card
Maximum Card Size64 GB64 GB64 GB64 GB64 GB
VideoGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
4KNoNoNoNo12/12.5/15 fps
2.7KNoNoNoNo24/25/30 fps
1440pNoNoNoNo24/25/30/48 fps
1080p30 fps30 fps25/30 fps24/25/30 fps24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
Records 360* VideoNoNoNoNoNo
Automatic Image RotationNoNoNoNoNo
Looping RecordingsYesYesYesYesYes
Timelapse Mode (constructs timelapse video)YesYesNo (requires desktop software)No (requires desktop software)No (requires desktop software)
AudioGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
Internal MicrophoneYesYesYesYesYes
PhotoGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
MegapixelsUp to 16 MP (4664*3496)Up to 16 MP (4664*3496)5 MP11 MP12 MP
Timelapse Mode (photos on interval)2,5,10,30,60s2,5,10,30,60s0.5,1,2,5,10,30,60s0.5,1,2,5,10,30,60s0.5,1,2,5,10,30,60s
Burst ModeUp to 6 photos/secondUp to 6 photos/secondUp to 3 photos/secondUp to 10 photos/secondUp to 30 photos/second
Continuous Shooting ModeNoNoNoNoYes
Concurrent w/video modeNoYesNoNoYes
Records 360* PhotoNoNoNoNoNo
SportsGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
Skiing ModeYesYesNoNoNo
Control from sport computerYesYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Sensor ConnectivityYes (Remotes only)YesNoNoNo
ANT+ Profile TypesOnly Remote ControlHeart Rate, Cadence, Temperature, PowerN/AN/AN/A
Overlays sport data on recordingYes, via included PC appsYes, via included desktop appsNoNoNo
PhoneGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
App platforms availableN/A - No WiFiIOS/ANDROID/WINDOWS PHONEiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Use as remote controlNoYesYesYesYes
Video previewNoYesYesYesYes
Transfer video-photos from cameraNoNoYesYesYes
Multi-camera live control/previewNoNoNoNoNo
SoftwareGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
App for computerVIRB EditVIRB EditGoPro StudioGoPro StudioGoPro Studio
AccessoryGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
Remote control button/keyYes - January 2014YesYesYesYes
Diving caseYes, up to 50mYes, up to 50mIncludedIncludedIncluded
Device ConnectionsGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
USB Connector TypeMini-USBMini-USBMini-USBMini-USBMini-USB
Composite VideoAdapter AvailableAdapter AvailableAdapter AvailableAdapter AvailableAdapter Available
Audio 3.5mm Stereo MicAdapter availableAdapter availableAdapter availableAdapter availableAdapter available
PurchaseGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
DCRainmakerGarmin VIRB (Normal)Garmin VIRB (Elite)GoPro Hero3 WhiteGoPro Hero3 SilverGoPro Hero3 Black
Review LinkLinkLink

The tables are dynamically updated, so as new information becomes available it’ll update automatically.

Final (and Next) Thoughts:


I’m looking forward to getting a unit in my hands here in the near future to start to see how things look in real-life. I’m optimistic that the ANT+ connectivity component will be a bit of a game changer in this market – especially for sports folks and even more so for cycling. Meaning that I don’t suspect it’ll make a difference for skateboarding videos, but I do think it’ll be a key differentiator for other sports that leverage ANT+ data.

The remote control profile being fully ANT+ standard could also open up the unit to other devices (i.e. CycleOps Joule GPS or O-Synce Navi2Coach or others) triggering the camera, which would be pretty cool. It would also open up Garmin to a bit of competition if 3rd party units got updates and cycling staples such as the Edge 500 or Edge 800 didn’t.

The one final area that will be interesting to watch is pricing. The two variants are priced at $299 (regular) and $399 (Elite).  The $399 price point is basically $200 more than the base GoPro HERO3, thus I’m not sure how well that’s going to play out given the GoPro’s these days include WiFi (the core upsell of the VIRB Elite).  On the flip side, none of the GoPro’s include ANT+ nor the ability to be controlled by sports units.

I’m looking forward to having a full review put together after I’ve had time to use the units and figure out all the quirks. As a frequent user of all generations of GoPro units (as well as some Contour units), I’m pretty familiar with the segment. It’ll be interesting to see how the Garmin units stack up.

Thanks for reading!


Wanna help support the blog? Or just want a sweet deal?

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased. You can read more about the benefits of this partnership here. You can pickup the Virb’s through Clever Training using the link below. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

Garmin Virb (Simply change drop-down for Virb Elite)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (all colors shown after clicking through to the left) or accessories (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!


  1. Steve T

    Thanks Ray,

    I mix MTB, hiking, bikepacking and do wear my fenix more often as a day to day watch. I still have my trusty 705 so the fenix is an option but it looks at first glance that the base model wont utilize the data from my watch/ANT+ device. I was hoping that this would leverage my other devices and give me a few great reasons to go get one. I don’t want to wait a year to see if they add the features I’m looking for (like the fenix).

    I’ll wait for the “first look” post, since I do value your input and it does influence my purchase decisions-are you listening Garmin?

  2. It doesn’t look like Contour is in the space any more, actually.

    link to geekwire.com

    I was an early user of the Contour cameras (for motorsports) and gave up on them about a year ago. They just didn’t seem to be able to keep pace with GoPros pricing or pace of development. It’s a shame, because I really preferred the Contour physical form factor. I replaced them all with GoPro HERO3 units when they came out and I’ve been mostly happier since the switch.

    I’m eager to see how Garmin does in the market, though. More competition is good.

  3. Have they any idea of a price for this new toy? Am looking for something I can run with, I would love to share my runs with my wife who is not into trail running!!!

  4. Does the cam have any antishaking function? The promo video looks like that, but in the up to now known feature list is nothing to be found!

    The most important function of a cam is, don’t wonder, the video. Up to now I haven’t found a action cam with a realy good and sharp picture. The difference in pricing between a GoPro and my realy cheap RD32II is too heavy and not worth 200-300€ uppricing!
    I don’t believe, that Garmin will improve this for me more important aspect of quality.

    DC, hard times what u are doing with us, now we are already waiting for two final reports of Garmin products ;)

  5. Is there any chance Garmin would add compatibility with Forerunner 910XT?

  6. Cian

    So when do we get a Google Glass review? :)

    • When they send one over. ;)

      First up would be the Recon Jet review though. Also, as it stands today Glass doesn’t appear to be handling sports terribly well.

  7. Havelaar

    In my humble opinion, Garmin (and its competitors) is (are) heading in the wrong direction.
    I really, really, really don’t want to add yet another device on my bike.
    What I would love to see is a cell phone that does it all. It’s as simple as that.

    Why adding an external temperature sensor, a smart watch, an external camera, connected helmet and glasses and I don’t know what else, if everything is already in my two year old Sony Xperia Active?

    Placing the camera at the top end of a new version of the Sony Xperia Active would also do the trick.

    And if you really want to add value, throw in a single Bluetooth ear pod that measures your heard rate in order to get rid of the chest belt and safely hear audio notifications during the ride.

    For the rest, the hardware (ant+, wifi, Bluetooth, camera, exchangeable battery, temperature sensor, pressure sensor, accelerometer, card-slot, gps, robust, waterproof and not to forget 3G connection for emergency calls and down-/up-streaming data) is already in there. It just gets outdated slowly.
    And on the software site, some very good bike computer apps exist already and their functionality is improving constantly.

    I’m convinced that there are at least a dozen of big competitors in the smartphone and sports-tech sectors out there who would be capable of bringing out a new smartphone for cyclists (Garmin included). When will we finally se someone amongst them willing to jump into the gap between mainstream smartphones and niche fitness-devices?

    • MickEa

      Love it.
      Theres a idea for kickstarter…

    • Ben

      I’ve wondered about that too. Why don’t they put everything into one unit? Why can’t they put everything into one unit?

      I used to have a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc which could record data from my Garmin pulse belt and cadence sensor.
      I was disappointed to to find out when my shiny new Sony Xperia Z arrived that it was without ANT.
      Though, of course Bluetooth sensors are an option. But I’m not going to rush out and buy new hardware.
      As of today I’d still rather use my Garmin Edge 500 for recording my data. (I’m an cyclist, amongst other things)

      As much as I like the idea of an all-in-one unit I do see some rather big obstacles that phone/camera engineers will have to overcome ….

      I believe the biggest problem would be battery drain – that is if you want to use your phone as an action camera. Better batteries and more efficient phone hardware is needed.
      There’s no way I’m going on a long trip and not having my phone, which is what would soon happen if I used it as a camera with today’s battery drain.

      Making a phone waterproof and rugged enough to have mounted on your bike, surfboard, kite, car or helmet or whatever yet compact enough to use everyday as a phone is also another problem. And of course it can’t be cumbersome or inconvenient to use either. The covered ports on my Xperia Z are on the limits of inconvenience for me.
      Being rated IP57 or IP 58 is probably enough enough for most users, I would want a device that is actually waterproof to 2 or 3 metres like the Drift HD Ghost. An IP57 rating is simply not enough!
      I’ve already found out that my Xperia Z isn’t as waterproof as Sony makes out. Took me two weeks to dry it out!

      Form factor – as far as my current phone goes then I can’t see myself mounting my phone on my bike or helmet to use as an action camera. It’s too big and as about as aerodynamic as a brick.
      If there was a camera at the top end of the phone as you propose then they wouldn’t be able to use a large sensor and have to stick to a small sensor.
      GoPro Hero 3 Black has a sensor size of 7.7 x 4.62 mm, though not exactly a large sensor it is bigger than sensors found in today’s phones. And the bigger the sensor the bigger the glass/lens.
      And with phones being as slim as they are these days then we’re going to have to accept that such a phone is going to fat by today’s standards. Or at least have a bulge at the end to encompass the lens and sensor and circuitry to/from the sensor.
      The diameter of the lens on my Xperia Z is almost the same as the thickness of the phone itself. And that’s with a smaller sensor.
      Though, I must say, the last year or so we’ve seen some huge improvements in camera phones whilst still using the same small sensors.

      I’m not trying to take a negative stance to your post, I mean, I too would like to see an all-in-one device.
      I was just pointing out some drawbacks. As I would not purchase a device that can’t do everything as good or as better than the 3 devices that I use today. (Phone, GPS and GoPro)
      I’m sure it’ll happen one day, but I think that that day is a while off yet. I don’t want and would not buy a device that comes up short in some areas.

      If I were to buy an all-in-one device then it’d have to be as convenient to use (as in I can slip it into my trouser pocket and not have to fiddle with anything more than rubber flaps, a la Xperia Z) as today’s top model smart phones, record ride data like my Garmin Edge 500, record action like a GoPro and be waterproof – not just IP57 or IP58. Or offer a waterproof case in addition to IP57/IP58.

    • Havelaar

      In two years, I never had any issue with my sony xperia active. It fell several times on the road, once even in a desente at more than 60km/h without breaking and I trained dozens of hours in rain (and even snow) without any infiltration. The battery too, is not an issue. I recently did a 200km ride (7hours) with one charge and on long tours I carry one or two spare batteries with me anyway.

      I don’t know about the size of the camera. But I really would not care, if the phone were a little bit thicker in the middle of the top. That does not interfer with the handling. The quality of the videos I shoot on my old device is not bad at all. It could be better stabelized and I’m missing a zoom. But I understand that’s also mostly missing on action cameras.

      The biggest advantage of the smartphone is the freedom on the software side. You can have apps developped for absolutely every aspect of your ride. I’m convinced that in a few years, we will receive weather, routing, eating warnings, the profil of the upcoming climb, suggestions for touristic stops or next water sources.

      As to size, I think a 4 inches display would be a good compromise. And it would of course go on the handlebar and not on the helmet.

  8. Marc Michals

    Great review as always. Looking forward to the google glass review. Have to agree with Havelarr … my bike is starting to look like my office. LOL Really need this to work with my 910. hope you could please pass on.

  9. Marty

    Would be pretty sweet if the new wahoo segments app supported video uploads of segments! Maybe in a future release!?

  10. Ron


    I have 2 questions.

    1. I have the powerbeam pro with virtual training software and I would like to know that with the VIRB if I download the video to the powerbeam will the video and gps automatically be synced perfectly and if so is this not the case with the go pro.

    2. I have not used the powerbeam much yet and am pretty new to to indoor trainers. I know the powerbeam pro automatically changes tension based on elevation, like riding outside do I shift gear accordingly.

    Thanks for your help


  11. Elizabeth

    What does ANT stand for?

  12. Juro

    If this records FIT files I am wondering if it can replace a computer completely? Too bad GPS seems to befor the Elite only.

    Btw Garmin released 3.50 fenix update with VIRB control and some sort of Virtual partner capability as well (looks like a basic “keep the pace” version)

    • Steve Knapp

      It almost seems like the outdoor/hiking team got all their devices updated and the fitness folks (Edge, Forerunner) are lagging a bit.

      As an early adopter of the Fenix I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am that they are adding more functionality without cleaning up the general quirky nature of the device that I have come to love.

  13. Juro

    Hmm, and according to Garmin only the Elite model can use ANT+ as sensors. Not sure this is advertised properly at the moment.

  14. Dominik J.

    is it possible to utilize the GPS of the control device (edge/fenix) to record the GPS data? (same question for barometric data)
    if yes, than the additional cost of the elite is too much in my opinion – as i don´t rely on the wifi.
    additionally, it would be nice to see the 910xt added!

  15. So, where is this camera supposed to be mounted? Given the location of the viewfinder, I assume it’s meant to be mounted on the handlebars. But I have found that location can be susceptible to vibration, even for road bikes when the pavement isn’t perfectly smooth. As a result, I generally prefer helmet mounting.

    Back to the competitors for a minute, I believe the other thing which lead to Contour’s demise, aside from marketing, was that their mounting options were not as diverse as the GoPro.

    I agree the biggest draw of the Garmin will be the integration of the data. My Contour +2 can only show the speed and GPS data when viewed on the Contour site.

  16. NewClydesdale

    How hard would it be to have software update that essentially let the Vibe Double as a Bike Computer?

    Seems like if it was mounted on your bars the screen would be in position you could put real time ANT+ data on the screen.

  17. Eli

    If the camera records a FIT file along with the video file are they adding something to the FIT file to be able to sync the two files together? Like a record that says the timecode in the video file that coresponds to that time in the fit file? That way you could get the video that corresponds to a lap.

    If the camera has a accelerometer can that make that camera act like a black box? So if a force above some limit is detected it saves the last x seconds along with the next x seconds? And with the Ant+ control a button that could do that would be useful to. I see the sensor used for a crash to be able to save the time right before the start of the crash and after. The button could be used for when a car passes in some bad way so you can record what happened before and after which may make reporting to police easier.

    • John S.

      Don’t Garmin devices obtain UTC time via GPS and include this in FIT files? I would assume that this is also done with this device and that a timestamp field is written into both the FIT and video files, which could then be used to sync the files later.

  18. simon

    Here’s a link to some material (my local chain gang) shot on a Contour HD 2 sync’d with some cool telemetry. This is the detail we need, and should have, from Garmin. The club is AlbaRosa CC in Leeds, UK.
    link to vimeo.com

    • Dr. D

      @Simon: Neat video and thanks for sharing – brought back memories of riding with my friends form the Macclesfield Wheelers and the 29th Wheelers. Now living in North Carolina and more of a runner. Ride Safe….

  19. James

    Great pre-view Ray, thank you.

    Just a week ago I saw for the first time the Garmin Temp sensor for sale on a website, but could not find any info on the sensor on the Garmin website. So apart from this camera, which other Garmin products is the Temp sensor compatible with?

    • Steve T

      The fenix is one. It has some advantage that it can be mounted away from the body to give ambient temp, and you can have a history graph of temp over many hours. I use mine for overnight lows and connect data for the ride, bike, hike, ski run.

  20. Ray Maker

    Yup, hate to break it to you but you did take a surfing lesson in Hawaii once when you were around 12 years old. And I think you did get up on the board. But we forgot to invent the GoPro early to post along with this breaking news.

  21. morey000

    isn’t the cool thing about the GoPro is that they go really wide angle? 127 and 170 degrees! I haven’t seen it listed how wide the Virb is, but the video doesn’t look as wide. Kinda’ think that’s the big difference.

  22. Bill

    I would be interested in this if the battery life were a little longer. I don’t really want it so I can sit at home and watch my rides. I’m more interested in using it as a dash cam if anything happens while I’m out on a ride. IIRC the go pro is also about three hours. Is there anything that would have better battery life?

  23. Tyler

    What is that round device with the 2 red and 1 white icons in the Garmin Fitness Device Integration photo?

  24. Don

    Thanks for the preview!

    With the GPS file, is there any way to use it to show an overlay on Google Maps?

    Similar to how you can see a map of where you ran/biked when looking at your data from a Forerunner in Garmin Connect?


    • Eli

      That would be kind of neat if the map could be overlayed with the video to show where you are similar to the old FPS shooter games like Doom that always had the mini map on the bottom of the screen

    • Daniel

      Yes, with the VIRB Edit software, the GPX track is (can be) displayed (in map format) on the video, along with other data acquired from the GPX file.

      Just tested it with a random video and a current Garmin workout file.

  25. RickH

    Has potential but, image quality from the demo is er, ho! hum!
    It is supposed to have digital image stabilisation but I don’t see it. Sony action cam has a much better stabilised image but poor mounting options.
    In the end if your video image is going to make you nauseous like most other action videos then it can stay in the store.

  26. Steve T

    According to the fenix update: “control” means u can start/stop video, take a still and see the video time up to 30’away.

    link to garmin.blogs.com

  27. ald eraic

    it’s weird to see that runners get no love on this one.
    there is no good camera on the market for runners (thinking OCR as well here) and when I saw the news from the garmin blog yesterday, I was expecting this camera to be the one.

    Anyway, not holding my breath on firmware updates on the forerunners, just looking at the 410 that cannot do two runs with two different sports (need to edit the uploaded files, they always have the same sport, the last one selected on the watch) unless you do workouts.

    Hopefully we will see a new set of forerunners this year, the last significant update was the 610 something like two years ago

  28. Matt

    When you do get one to test, please include the ‘can I see a moving car license plate test’ in freezeframe. Thanks!

  29. KeithS

    The challenge will be to have the battery life long enough that the HR data has corrected itself for display! How long can Garmin get away with distributing such inadequate product.

  30. Nathan

    Every new product Garmin release probably means that all their developers spend every waking hour trying to fix the bugs and existing bug ridden products get neglected. :(

  31. Todd

    The unit is useless for water sports. The water resistance rating is simply too low…

  32. Hi All – Just a heads up for those following along on comment subscriptions, I’ve added a large gallery of hands-on photos from today, as well as detailed GoPro & VIRB comparison charts (action cameras are now part of the Product Comparison Calculator tool).

  33. Marc

    Does the VIRB have an “Upside Down” recording mode, similar to the GoPro?

    Reason why, is that I’ve been mounting a GoPro with the bar clip on the underside of my aero bars. Its completely out of the way and gives a great unobstructed forward view.

    • Yup, confirmed today hands-on that the unit does indeed have an upside down mode. Also of note, that the stabilization functionality is actually adjustable (a slider in a menu). Kinda interesting.

  34. Steve Knapp

    Might add ANT+ features to the comparison table?

  35. Not sure if I’m ready to jump on this one yet. I’ll wait for your in depth review. I have a Contour +. I’m happy enough with it, but I want to run two cameras. One forward and one back as my road riding is increasing and we have sketchy roads here. I like the features of the Garmin so far. Would nice if it could replace a bike computer. Possibility of that?

  36. Juro

    Ray, are you sure the basic version has the ability to record ANT+ sensor data?

    See this:
    link to buy.garmin.com
    link to buy.garmin.com

    In the Specs section the basic says:

    Connectivity: ANT+™ compatible: Yes (remote)

    While Elite has:

    Connectivity: ANT+™ compatible: Yes (remote & sensors)

    • Very interesting, I went over and poked at the two units today, and indeed, the normal has ANT+, but can’t connect to sensors (just to other VIRB’s and to remotes).

      I’ve updated the tables. Thanks!

    • rabbit

      Good point. I missed it too.

      But I think, when you use the virb together f. e. with a fenix, you can take altitude, speed, tempe, hr from the fenix data and put it into the video file using virb edit. Or isn`t it possible?

  37. Steve Knapp

    Can use one of the powermonkey style batteries to extend the Virb’s life?

    Also safe to assume the IPX7 quality is on par with the other devices? Like the FR201 that I broke with splash from my jetski? Dive case required for anything around water I’d think.

  38. Bill L

    Thanks for the great comparison table, Ray! Question – In the General section under VIRB (NORMAL), shouldn’t the GPS BUILTIN, ALTIMETER BUILTIN and ACCELLEROMETER fields be set to NO?

  39. rabbit

    I’m excited if garmin release the programm virb edit together with the units? Garmin bascampe mobile for android was also announced but the android users are still waiting (for month)

  40. Dean Dunn

    I’m getting a SkyDrive error whilst trying to access the gallery images?

  41. Kevin

    On first read this looks alot like the GoBandit Live. Is there a real difference? Both are GPS + ANT. Did Garmin do a knockoff of the GBL, or is GBL no longer in this biz?

  42. richard

    I’ve an 810, and am interested in this part




    can I send the data to the camera from my 810 so I can save 100 bucks?

    • rabbit

      I think with the garmin pc programm “virb edit” it would be possible to implantade the datas into the virb film file. We have to wait and see, if garmin releases this programm together with the virb and what it really can…

    • rabbit

      In the garmin Forum FALAGAR said:

      VIRB Edit 2.0 supports speed, elevation, heart-rate and cadence.

      VIRB Edit 2.1 (to be released very soon) will add support for G-force and power (from the Vector).

      VIRB Edit 2.2 will support temperature.

    • That’s awesome, great to hear.

  43. David

    Waiting to see the hands on test by you before pulling the trigger thanks.

  44. David

    Thanks maker of rain:-) Need some out here (rain)in Cali btw.

  45. rabbit

    The virb/virb elite manual and virb edit pc program (windows 7 or higher required) are now available on the garmin homepage

  46. Kenn

    Very disappointed that Garmin decided the basic model wouldn’t record ANT+ data, and even less impressed that my 12 month old Edge 800 won’t get an upgrade to remote control the VIRB. These are Garmins’ only real sales advantages! For $400, the GoPro Hero3 Black is a much better product, and for an extra $50 I can buy Dashware to add/synchronise all my data including power meter to video from any camera.

    It also occurs to me, with a Bluetooth bridge like the 4iiii Viiiiva, or Wahoo Fitness RFLK+, it would be relatively easy for an enterprising programmer to add the ANT+ data to live video recorded on a BLE smartphone. There are apps like Optrix VideoPro that already do this with GPS data, speed, acceleration, etc & can bring in car engine data via a Bluetooth ODB dongle.

  47. Scott Buchanan

    Ray any ETA for a hands on review if the Elite?

  48. Scott Buchanan

    Ray, Any more news on the Virb Elite?

  49. Srdan

    What will be the difference between vanilla and Elite model for user who is already in possession of Edge 510? Will vanilla model be able to get speed, alti… data from my Edge which would make for me Elite features needless?

  50. Eli

    The Garmin D2 (their new aviation watch based on the fenix) can control the VIRB too. (I’m sure there is at least one person on this site who may use that watch, probably not more then one though ;) )

  51. MattyB

    G’day from Australia. I am in need of a unit that will show the gps position of the footage or stills taken and be able to control this via external means ie tablet or PC then transfer it to web whilst on the go. Is that asking too much or is it already and option from this garmin or go pro with some add ons?

    Great reviews thanks


  52. marc steingrand

    great review as usal lets see the full review befor buying it

  53. Philip

    we need a remote display system for this virb, so all the speed, cadence, power data etc can be displayed on the handle bars.
    i can’t justify paying out twice for all the same features, eg. ant+, gps cycle computer and ant+, gps camera when they record 90% of same data.

    • Philip

      oh, and that “remote display” device would have a start/stop function for the camera.

    • Philip

      or as previously mentioned in forum a way to merge video file to .fit file so those who already have a garmin device (me and a lot of other people it seems) do not need to spunk out for the virb elite model.

    • Philip

      from: link to garmin.com

      “If you collect GPS data with VIRB Elite or a compatible Garmin device, VIRB Edit can use that data to create an overlay that indicates speed and elevation in sync with your video. ”

      so it seems that the merge function is already available, I will seriously start looking at a Virb basic model.
      I would appreciate if anyone could feeback on the merging process in the “virb edit” software if they own a virb device and have in fact merged virb with another garmin device.

    • Marc Tanguay

      Using VIRB edit, you can add in a GPS file. I’ve used a .GPX file, and it also appears to accept a .FIT as well (though I haven’t tested with .FIT yet).

      The overlay automatically includes the sensor tracks that I had in my GPX:
      – Heart Rate
      – Speed
      – Elevation
      – GPS Map

      As far as I can tell, the GPS and sensor data is not editable, nor is it possible to choose whether to include or exclude the separate sensor tracks.

      This brings up an interesting question about how a GPX track would then be synced with video. My Garmin 810 auto pauses during a bike ride, but the video recording on the VIRB does not stop. So, do they sync? I do not know yet, but will test on my next ride.

      The video footage also includes a GarminVIRB watermark in the lower right corner. Again, not a toggled on/off item. Its just always on.

      So that may be one major reason to purchase the VIRB Elite, as the GPS track would be in sync with the recorded video, even during pauses (it would just record the same coordinates, show zero speed, constant elevation, and current heart/power, etc).

      Other note, there is a different behavior in the way that you import your video files using VIRB Edit. If you import using VIRB Edit, the video shows up as a single, continuous file. If you import the .MP4 files from the Micro SD card to your PC or Mac first, then you may have multiple video files to add in. This is not unique to Garmin VIRB. It is the same behavior if you are using a GoPro, as the MicroSD card is formatted in FAT (or xFAT). FAT establishes a 4GB file size limitation, and then will split your video files into separate, sequenced files. You then have to add the individual files from the Clip Library to the editing timeline to be included in your video.

    • Marc Tanguay

      By the way…for you GoPro users looking for sensor or map overlay, you can use your GoPro video footage inside of VIRB Edit and then add a .GPX track. VIRB Edit allows you import a standard H.264 (.mp4 or .m4v) file.

      The only issue that you may have is that the GarminVIRB watermark will appear with no way to remove it.

      Dashware is still the cleanest and most complete video overlay software for PC.

      For Mac OS X, the VIRB edit is far and away the best editor that I’ve come across so far.

    • That’s funny on the watermark. But interesting, as I had tried a version back a month ago, and it wouldn’t import the GoPro file. Funny way of solving that problem. ;)

    • Marc Tanguay

      Update & Corrections to my earlier post:

      There is an adjustment to GPS track sync and displaying overlay data.

      On the GPS track, under edit, VIRB Edit then opens a GPS Track adjustment, replacement or removal option. With adjust, you can manually “Tag” the start of the video segment to match up with the GPS map.

      So while it looks like Garmin has given us a good way to sync video and GPS, it still may be easier and automatic with the VIRB Elite. Again, this may be worth the additional spend for many.

      There is also a Data Overlay toggle, which turns EVERYTHING On or Off. Not field/track selectable. Just on or off, including the GarminVIRB watermark.

    • Philip

      after installing windows 7, i had a play around with virb edit. i could edit gopro footage but could not export it. i thought maybe because this is footage not from a virb? can anyone confirm?

      regards syncing footage with fit file, it’s really not easy. would virb (standard model) have a time sync stamp (i imagine this would only be via some network time protocol service, read gps, therefore not available on standard model) that aligns with fit file.

      all in all, i now think data overlay is not so important for me and if it is… fit file can be exported into a csv file and then read in via an “after effects” type video editing program.

      Mr Rainmaker, Thanks for the great site!

    • Tom

      You can also check out SUFFERvision (suffervision.appspot.com) as a free alternative for video overlay.

      It has some rough edges (just me working on it in limited spare time), but I think it’s easy to use and powerful once you get used to it. It’s particularly well suited to understanding an athlete’s performance if you have power data.

      Rather than statically encoding your video+data and then uploading to Youtube, instead you upload the raw video to Youtube and SUFFERvision overlays data from Strava, Garmin Connect, or Training Peaks dynamically on playback (so you can use any video or data format these services support).

      The dynamic overlay allows the viewer to interact with the map, select what data they want to see, change units, etc.

      It can also display multiple athletes as dots on the map resulting in a decent representation of the peloton in cases where many participants upload to Strava.

    • That’s pretty cool.

  54. ihategopro

    Good pre review because it sounds like you are not already sold out on the units – can you PLEASE let us know the field of view that it records in and compare it to the gopro so we have a reference point ( unless I missed it somewhere). I hope they can eliminate a lot of the Gopro problems like bad batteries, cameras that chew up memory cards and the worst is the propensity to overheat after 17 minutes and randomly shut off. Go Pro has one thing going for them that the others cant seem to replicate – MARKETING – thats really GP’s genius. I own $2,500 worth of their cameras and another $1500 in extra stuff ( mounts, video screens, batteries…) I use the cameras every day and I still struggle to get results that are consistent and repetitive. Everyday its something new with GP and I only get about 60% of the footage that Im working for because of the massive amount of issues with the cameras! – Come on Garmin the door is open for anyone who can actually deliver reliability and quality at a semi reasonable price point. Caution dont get so carried away with making the camera do everything while loosing the need to keep it simple enough to use. Beyond that just tell the truth about your product because GP has no problem lying to their customers and that s why Im shopping for a new line of product! Regards, ihategopro

  55. Fabio

    I am looking at getting my first camera for some sports, cycling, target shooting and motor sports, it would also be great to do time laps photography after you arrive to the northern lights by snowmobile (my next holiday). I do love Garmin products but where my concern is the specs. GoPro can shoot higher resolution at 120fps and also a lot more stills per second (ideal for target shooting) From the YouTube videos the sound on the Garmin is bad when it comes to wind. But the Garmin has image stabilisation and can connect to my edge 810 and sensors. I am totally cough between the two! Any advice would be much appreciated.

  56. Claude

    Just received the virb elite. Only used once though. Do you know what is the app for smartphone to control the virb? I could only find maketing stuff on the web. Just in case, tks! The screen is definitively very small but the camera looks very solid

  57. rabbit

    Does the digital stabilization feature only work in the ultra-zoom mode? For example, if I choose the wide mode, I can not use the digital stabilization, when I turn it on, my virb change automatically in the ultra-zoom mode?

    Is this normal / a fw-bug, operator error? Any ideas?

  58. rabbit

    I have tested the virb with a several times fully charged battery (from a 3 month old garmin montana) with the follwing settings:

    1080p / wide / camera light off.

    After 2:17:15; 2: 17:45 , 2:20:04 hours the battery was empty and the camera switched off. I tested it for 3 times so far; 2:20:04 was the best time of battery life.

    What are your battery times?

    Garmin speaks about 3 hours with 1080p. How do they do it?

    And what about the virb elite with additional gps on, tracking on and ant+ sensors switched on???

  59. AdeptJR

    Received my elite the other day, seems pretty good. The big issue I have is they advertise the iPhone APP, but it is not available. When I called Garmin, they said it should be available by the time you have the camera in your hand, if not then call them back. I called them back and Garmin now says they don’t know when it will be released. With out a remote control system, this makes things more difficult operate.

  60. Marc

    New Garmin Edge 810 firmware has been released. It includes remote control for the VIRB.

    Allows you to turn recording on/off, and take a photograph. Works well enough.

    Doesn’t seem to do much else, like change settings. But I’m still hoping that is what the smartphone app will do along with live view (which is what GoPro app offers).

    Still, this remote control is very useful with my setup. I have the Edge 810 mounted in the K-Edge TT adapter on the right side TT bar. I just mounted a K-Edge GoPro adapter on the underside of my left TT bar.

    K-Edge doesn’t yet make a TT bar GoPro adapter. So this is the little adapter with two screw holes on it. Took a leap of faith (and middle-school wood shop skill from 30 years ago) and actually drilled and screwed it in to the bar. Mounted my VIRB upside down, using the provided GoPro-to-VIRB industry mount.

    The result is a fairly aero, very forward camera position, which misses the TT bars in the video pic. Mount is rock solid. Accepts GoPro natively, or VIRB with the small adapter. I like it better than using the Garmin Large pole mount (Small pole mount was too small, even for a 22.0mm bar).

    With the camera upside down, and clustered next to the Edge 810 in between the aero bar, the remote is the easiest way to start recording. Just takes a little nerve and some accuracy to drill into your bike!

  61. Misfit of Science

    Has anyone encountered issues with trying to charge the lithium-ion battery that comes with the VIRB Elite. I just received my two days ago from REI, put it on a wall charger, after 14 hours the screen still read that battery was not charged (had X symbol over battery symbol on screen). Contacted Garmin Support, they asked me to try to charge it from my universal battery smart charger (delivers 500mAh charge, so should charge this battery in 4 hours or so), no luck. Would not stay on or charge from USB port to my laptop computer. So, they told me to return it to REI and pick up a whole new unit. I did so yesterday, left the new battery charging overnight, still the same issue. Any help? Does it take 24 hours for initial battery charge?

    • I know this will sound bad, but nonetheless, I figured I’d ask since you’ve gone through two batteries/units…

      Any chance you’re putting in the battery the wrong way?

  62. Misfit of Science

    Rainmaker, thanks for the response. I’m not insulted, that would be my first response to such a question.

    I cannot see how its in the wrong way. To describe it– 4 gold “plates” on battery face and contact the 4 gold “prongs” inside the battery case. No other contact points for the battery terminals. When battery is placed inside, can read the Garmin info writing on the plastic battery case (3.7V, 2000mAh, 7.4Wh, made in Korea, finished in China, etc, etc) on the “top” of the battery case. Neither battery or unit looked damaged/unfinished in any way.

    Am I doing it wrong? I cannot charge it without using the USB cable provided. I believe my wall outlet is indeed provided proper current and voltage as I can plug in any other appliance and it operates perfectly. The USB wall charger has been used to charge/operate other Garmin products I own without issue.

    Rainmaker, since you have engineering background, can you guide me on how to test the voltage using a digital multimeter. My multimeter has a battery testing setting and uses the red and black pinpoint-style testing leads. Where on the gold “plates” should I place my leads. When I tried, I used the red lead on the edge-most plate and the black lead on the 4th/innermost plate and got a reading of 11.4. Is this how to test it? Am I doing it right?

    Any other recommendations? If I might ask you and other members on this forum, how long did it take to charge your VIRB the first time?

    • Marc

      Initial charge took a LONG time, probably 10 hours.

      Subsequent re-charges are still taking 4+.

      As for battery life, I’m seeing about 2:30 in 1080p mode, with most of the settings “turned-down”. Very similar to GoPro H3 with the extended battery — though was hoping for better from Garmin.

  63. Misfit of Science

    Thanks for the feedback, Marc. I also noticed I may not be using a compatible microSD card. I will report back on this as I am now headed to the store to pick up a SanDisk Class 10 (32 or 64Gb) microSD. It doesn’t seem to read the one I took from my Garmin GPSmap 62s (which had no trouble storing it, but was a complete cheapo offbrand from China, got it on eBay). If its strictly an issue of reading an error because of an incompatible SD card, then I wasted a trip and return-of-item to REI for nothing. Poop…

    I wonder if SD card compatibility is the real Garmin support issue…

  64. Misfit of Science

    OK, yep, it was entirely due to the quality of microSD card I put in. Just put in a 32 Gb SanDisk (not Ultra, just regular) and it immediately indicated full charge on the battery, light when from orange/red to green and it allowed me to go to home screen.

    So, this Garmin does NOT like cheapo microSD cards.

  65. FYI/FWIW: Garmin released an update for the Edge 800 (yes, the 800) adding in VIRB support. Very nice to see a change of heart there. link to www8.garmin.com

    • Thomas

      Wohoo! Then maybe maybe we’ll see an update for Edge 500 too. The staff in the booth at the cycle fair in Stockholm last weekend told me on my specific question that the “older 500 and 800 will also work as a remote with a fw update”. Not giving up hope just yet =)

  66. Lennart Christianson

    When can we hope to read a full review of Garmin Virb (elite)?

    Lennart Christianson

    • Koen Killemaes

      Hi, I’m also interested to read a review after you’ve been testing it.
      Virb Elite
      Thx, Koen

    • I haven’t quite decided. I’m trying to see what my weekend looks like next weekend, along with what some of the Alps look like. If the Alps look promising, I may make a quick run down there for a slew of action cams and get some skiing to add to all my existing content on the cameras (with swim/bike/run/etc…).

  67. Rob Arena

    I have been using the latest version of Verb Edit. It works well and the overlay is easy using a GPX file but the program has a bug that will not let you export the video just created. I called Garmin last week. They were not aware of the problem but said they will fix it. I’m still waiting. Anyone else notice this problem? This is the PC version of the software.

  68. Neil Bartlett

    Does anyone know when the smartphone Garmin Virb Elite apps that control the camera from either the phone or computer are going to be released? As they state in the advertising blurb and the manuals that there are!

    • They were saying a week or two ago, that it would be 1-2 weeks.

    • AdeptJR

      Like most cases, Garmin is full of false promises. They said it would be out in time of the release of the VIRB, then beginning of November, then end of November. I am still waiting on the side lines for some one to take legal action for falsely advertising, as there is not a singe piece of advertising that doesn’t say that there is an APP to use a smart phone as a remote control. Even the flyers they have at the stores. GoPro is using this frustration to campaign against the VIRB.

  69. Mark

    So, if I want to overlay speed on a bike ride video from the Virb, I’d have to have the Elite because the speed is from the unit itself but I could see the HR from my Garmin HR monitor?

  70. Simon

    The problems exporting on VIRB edit look to be fairly common. The Garmin forum has plenty on it. Looking like a fairly typical buggy first release from Garmin. tbh, the inability to export is pretty annoying. Needs to get fixed soon.

  71. Joe

    Noticed a firmware update for the Edge 800, includes VIRB control.

  72. I’m looking between the top Hero and Virb models. Your chart seems a little off though. As far as I understand, the Hero3+ comes with a lighter case that is only dive resistant up to 30m. The older, bigger case for the larger basic model or older models still is resistant up to 60m and compatible with the best model, but if you are a new purchaser it is something to think about.

    Not sure if the extra features of ANT, GPS, etc are worth sacrificing the quality and FPS that gopro offers. I tend to prefer the best quality solution, but the Virb sure does have a better battery life! That is one of the biggest gripes of my current Hero.

    • The Hero3+ isn’t in the above charts. ;)

      I generally only put a unit in the charts once I have my hands on it. In any event, you are correct that going forward they reduced the water resistance to 30m. I’d argue for the vast majority (99.998%) of users, it won’t matter. Most recreational divers (PADI OW certificate or equiv) are going to bottom out at 30-35m.

    • Oh, and ‘Hello’, from just up the street based on your profile. Currently up Engelberg testing half a dozen action cams. :)

  73. Touché! Ok… I read the charts way too fast. :) Next question is when are you updating about that? Hah.

    Very cool you are up Engelberg already. Ski season is starting again and I’m still traumatized from my first mountain skiing experience 5 years ago. Praying to get through another winter with just snowshoe walking and sledding… not so easy around here!

    Wanted to also say you two probably did well to choose France, based on the holidays alone. If it were based on local, you’d only get 20 days minimum in Switzerland. They are one of the stingiest countries for holiday time and a longer work week. If only there weren’t all those French people in Paris. ;)

    • As soon as a Hero3+ arrives in my hands. ;) I think one hit my US forwarding box this week, and I’ll probably send over on Monday or Tuesday.

      From a skiing standpoint, the single biggest thing I’m loving about the Hero3 Virb is the giganto button to know whether it’s on or off. All the other units I’m testing you play a game of either listening to beeps (if you can hear them above the wind), or memorizing the button order and hoping you didn’t just turn it off instead of on. The battery is solid too. I went from 12:45ish today (when I got to the resort) till around 4:15PM today with it on in standby and recording on and off a lot. It’s great.

      Now, the biggest downside is the oblong shape. You get lots of stares compared to a GoPro.

      And indeed, selecting France with holidays wasn’t an accident. ;)

    • Mark

      I was looking at the water proof level of the Garmin Virb and noticed that unless you do buy the case it is only one meter. If you look at the Go Pro or the Sony AS30, they come with cases already. The Go Pro seems to be able to go much deeper but the AS30 can do five meters with the standard case and has a larger case for deeper dives.
      When I add all the costs the Garmin is not the cheaper option. ANT+ is very interesting but the actual1080p @ 60FPS seems better for the AS30 and GoPro than the Garmin @ 30FPS.
      The AS30 also has a wrist monitor and control that are making me lean towards that device but I’m still not sure.

    • True. Though, I’ve had no problems taking the Virb into the pool for deeper than recommended. For me, the part I like about that waterproofing level is that I don’t have to worry about it (versus needing a case with others).

      Having the AS30, I’m not impressed. Someone asked me last night on a conference what I thought of it, and I noted that: “I find it annoying most of the time”.

      Here’s why (AS30):
      – The battery life is bad.
      – The UW case doesn’t seem to focus at all underwater (though, I just found a (new?) setting last night for UW mode, so I’ll try that on Wednesday)
      – The user interface is rather poor

      Things that I’m indifferent on:
      – The mounts are sorta a pain, but the K-Edge one for it is sweet
      – The mobile app is kinda neat. A bit slow, but it does the trick

      Things I like:
      – The desktop app while ugly to install, is actually not too bad

      Fwiw, here’s the full roundup of cameras that I’m testing with upcoming reviews:
      – Garmin Virb
      – Garmin Virb Elite
      – Sony AS-30
      – JVC GC-XA2
      – Pyle HD Action Cam*

      Inbound are three more:
      – GoPro Hero3+ Black
      – TBA Action Cam
      – Geonaute 360-Degree cam

      *Spoiler alert: Don’t buy it

  74. AdeptJR

    Hi Ray,
    As simple as it may be, I am not happy they have not yet released the iPhone APP. Having the VIRB elite mounted on a helmet, it would make things so much simpler to control via APP. Here is a loaded question, based on what you do know, which do you prefer GoPro Hero3+ or Garmin VIRB Elite

    • I haven’t played with the Hero3+ yet (in the mail), but honestly, the functionality is the same as the Hero3 from a features standpoint (changes are in size, battery, etc…).

      That said, for sports where sensor data is relevant I really like the Virb. For either super-high end, or in applications where that data isn’t relavent, then check out the GoPro’s.

  75. rich

    can I overlay gps data and so on over a gopro data file with the garmin software?

  76. George

    Love your reviews…

    In post #134 you stated “single biggest thing I’m loving about the Hero3 is the giganto button” snip.

    I’m guessing you meant the Garmin Virb?

    I have two GoPro2’s and was going to upgrade to GoPro3’s this winter but held off when I saw the Virb announcement. I have used a separate program to overlay gps data on my GoPro video’s in the past but have to sync the video to the Ant+ data by clapping on video, etc. I think using the Virb Elite’s Ant+ sensor data to get the overlay will be easier.

    Does the Garmin computer software support using multiple cameras to get alternate viewpoints? Also, I see the Edge 800 update allows remote control of the Virb Elite, can it control multiple cameras?

    For Mountain Bike video I like to mount a camera facing forward (either helmet or handlebars) and one on my seat post facing to the rear. My daughter is 13 and skinny, but she still exhibits a repulsion for seeing her rear end on video. She much prefers following me and seeing her face on the videos.

    • Thomas

      George. I can’t answer the question about alternate viewpoints support in the Virb Edit software. But when it comes to remote controlling multiple cameras, that works.

      According to the user manual, you set the first camera to be the “main Virb” and the others to be slaves. Then you control the first camera, either directly with its button, or via a remote control such as the Edge 800. The main unit will then relay the signals to the slave cameras.

    • Sorry, good catch, yes, meant Virb.

      The Garmin Editing software does not (my chief complaint) support it. It’s a mess. The Edge 800 and other remotes do support it.

      Yesterday for example I did a ride, and I had a forward and rear facing VIRB. Both were controlled by the Edge in concert. The challenge is that post-processing in video it’s clunky, as it can’t handle two camera angles as at once.

  77. rabbit

    I just read your battery test on facebook. I wonder that the virb elite battery reached with enabeled gps about 2:21/2:24 and the normal virb only 2:36. I thought, the enabled gps would take more battery life…

    But far away from the 3 hrs, that garmin promotes.

  78. Thomas

    Wrt the battery test. Does anyone have the time for 720p recording, or say 30sec timelapse? How much longer will the battery last? (hopefully I get my Elite today so I can test myself ;)

    • Hmm, I’ll do some tests there this weekend. I use the 30sec timelapse feature a lot, but I’ve been mostly using it either for short time periods, or really long (up to 5 days thus far), and thus in that case I’m keeping it plugged in.

    • Thomas

      Right. I thinking of documenting my next 300k nonstop bikeride with timelapse, and would like as little external battery pack (or extension cords) as possible on the bike ;)

  79. pat

    is the virb elite a good camera for snowboarding?!

  80. For those curious, I asked about where on earth the Virb phone app was (iPhone). They noted that it was actually submitted to Apple a few weeks ago, but that they were still waiting. Obviously, I have no way to confirm that, but, fwiw, there ya go.

    They were optimistic it’d show up “any hour or day now”.

  81. Lennart Christianson

    I would like to read a review of the Garmin Virb elite. Does anyone know where you can find a reliable review?

    Best regards

    Lennart Christianson

  82. Mark


    I’m waiting for DC Rainmakers’ review but here is one that is more negative than positive. I think it is good to see all angles.

    link to webbikeworld.com

    I went and purchased a Sony AS30v and I am pretty happy with it. The one thing that got me worried about the Garmin was that it seems like it is a unit that is water ready but the first thing I saw when I downloaded the manual was that it specifically tells you NOT to submerge it at all. They immediately point out there is an underwater case and that you are likely to ruin your new 300-400 purchase if you do.
    I can tell you the rubber cover on the top is more than enough for rain but if you stick it in your swim pocket it could easily flood.
    This article also points out that the weight may be detrimental to a comfortable side helmet mount.

    However, I’m still open to it because of ANT+

    I will say that the GPS on the Sony has not impressed me. It seemed to lag. If the Garmin is more accurate I may still buy it for my bike.

    • I’ve submerged the units many times. The electronics area that the rubber cap covers is IPX7. So you can open it up and let water in, no problems (done that too).

      I find the GPS pretty solid on the VIRB, no obvious issues that I can see there. And ANT+ works well. I think that review may have missed the little tripod mount adapter (no different than GoPro), which solves their complaint.

      My chief complaint on the VIRB hardware is the number of 0KB files it generates (failed video attempts). It’s frustrating to lose video files. This is across three units I purchased in three separate countries.

    • Lennart Christianson

      Thanks Mark and rainmaker,

      I am also I’m waiting for DC Rainmakers’ review.

      Lennart Christianson

    • I’m hoping for later this week. My single blocker right now is issues exporting from VIRB Edit suite.

  83. Mark

    CD Rainmaker,
    That is very interesting. I’m still happy to buy a Garmin if the water issue and GPS are solid. Thanks for posting.
    I’m looking forward to your review.
    Do you know if the ANT+ feature allows me to impose my HR, speed, etc. from my Garmin 800 to the lower cost VIRB or am I going to need the 400 dollar one?

    Thanks again

  84. AdeptJR

    These recent posting make rethink if is worth keeping the Garmin VIRB elite. I have only used it twice, and the good thing is I have a year to return it without any questions asked. The more postings I read, the more it seems Garmin has a ways to go. The quality of the videos need major corrections, that most say can be done with a firmware update. I was original unhappy that they did not have the iPhone APP as promised in their ads. They claim it is being held up by Apple, that is getting old, as they been saying that since the beginning of November. And there are a few other things out there also. One thing I have noticed over the past 20 years with Garmin products is that Garmin is not quick to admitting or fixing issues. Of course this is just my perspective.

  85. Simon

    Got a VIRB Elite, with Garmin’s 30% discount for UK, it felt a good deal. Here are my first thoughts. On the positive, it’s a good solid unit with an excellent build quality. Heavier than I thought. Picture quality (on the basis of one ride) looks great. The setting for removal of wide lens distortion is very welcome. The viewfinder is a bit dim, but useful and use-able. Menu is fine and can be scrolled through with relative ease on-bike. It helps, I guess, if you are a Garmin veteran as that makes the sequences and the place they put stuff familiar. I have high hopes that the picture quality will be as good, if not better, than other premium action cams. It did well today, against a low winter sun.
    The mounting system, however, is a major disappointment. So clunky and big and messy and just yuk. I’m coming off a Contour Roam HD, which had an exemplary simple, no-fuss mount system. Garmin’s should be a whole lot better than it is. Too much cheap platsic, awakward thumb screws and a whole lot of unnessary, it seems to me at least, articulation. Not nice. Let’s hope the CNC manu’s come up with some slick hacks to simplify the whole thing.
    Here’s what I’d like to see Garmin address – mainly on the very thin offering that is VIRB edit. Please give us configurable overlays. I can’t believe that’s hard. The templates at present never seem to be just right for a sequence with one or two or three key metrics missing. No HR Max setting anywhere. wtf? There are lots of power options – trying to sell some more Vectors, are we Garmin? We should be able to cherry pick which metrics we want and tick box them to form custom overlays.
    Please give us a reliable Export function. It is better on VIRB generated stuff, as you may expect, but really rubbish if you import material not generated by the VIRB. Exports fail at a high rate. I’d say one if five is successful. iF they offer import and processing of non VIRB material, the Export should be robust.
    The edit s/w itself is way way too basic. Can’t import jpegs. No transitions of any kind. Really really basic functionality.
    The VIRB seems to talk to my 510 and ANT peripherals OK, but dropped out on cadence – sometimes there, sometimes not. I cannot find, and suspect there isn’t, an option to set record on/off as a data field, which would be really useful. Currently if you want to remote control record on/off from the 510, there’s a whole lot of menu scrolling.

    Very early thoughts. More to follow with more use.

  86. rabbit

    Virb/Virb elite FW Update 3.00 (17.12.2013) via webupdater

    Changes made from version 2.80 to 3.00:

    Enables support for smartphone app – available now on the App Store and Google Play Store
    Fixes potential lockup during video playback
    Fixes potential crash when inserting HDMI cable
    Elite Only: Adds support for more ANT cadence sensors
    Elite Only: Fixes bug in accelerometer recordings when set to ‘This Side Down’

    link to www8.garmin.com…ls.jsp?id=6565

  87. AdeptJR

    What that the remote APP? What is the name of it for the iphone?

    • AdeptJR

      The APP is now in the Apple iTunes store. I did not see a feature to review record video / photos, did I miss something or is this not one of the feature of the APP? If not, they should add that and the ability to save onto the smartphone (iPhone/iPad)

    • Thomas

      The name of the app is Garmin Virb, at least on Android so I’d suspect it is the same on iPhone. I don’t think reviewing recorded video or photos in the app is one of the announced features, but I agree it would be a nice one to have.

      I’m also missing the ability to take photos from the app. I can start/stop video recording but not snap a photo. Not while recording and not otherwise. There’s just nu photo button. At least not in the Android version. *That* is a feature they announced would be part of the app though.

  88. Hi All-

    Just a quick heads up that since I posted the full in-depth review of the Garmin VIRB & VIRB Elite a few days ago, I’m going to go ahead and close this post to comments – simply to keep things tidy. Fear not, all new comments can be placed on the In-Depth Review…for ever and ever.

    It’s here: link to dcrainmaker.com