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GPS specialist Garmin have released two 1080p HD action cameras, one with built-in WiFi, GPS and ANT+ connectivity

Garmin have launched the VIRB, a 1080p HD action camera, signalling their intent to expand their product family into the video camera market, dominated by GoPro. They’ll offer two versions, the basic VIRB (£269.99) which just shoots video, and the VIRB Elite (£349.99) which extends the capability with built-in WiFi, GPS, accelerometer and altimeter and ANT+ connectivity.

We know what you might be thinking: this isn’t a product specifically aimed at road cyclists. And you’d be right. But we know that lots of road cyclists are increasingly using video cameras, whether to record their favourite roads or participation in events, or for the daily commute. Garmin say it makes sense to expand into the market because their customers all lead very active lifestyles. Everyone is a David Lynch these days!

All that aside, it’s worth noting that Garmin have produced GPS devices with integrated cameras in the past, but this is their first dedicated camera. The rugged case has an IPX-7 waterproof rating (so it can be immersed for up to 30 minutes in one metre of water) and houses a 1.4in Chrome colour display for setting up the camera angle and playback of recorded footage. The camera shoots in HD 1080p with digital image stabilisation and lens distortion correction.

It’s available in two versions. The VIRB just shoots video and will cost £269.99. The VIRB Elite is more feature-packed and costs £349.99. It boasts built-in WiFi, GPS, accelerometer and altimeter and ANT+ connectivity, and we think it is the more appealing of the two for its ability to not only record video of a ride, but also to record such things as speed and distance. Both have a micro HDMI port so you can plug it into your television, and a microSD slot that takes a maximum 64GB card. That’s good for over seven hours of footage. The battery will run out before then though, with a claimed three hours.

The VIRB Elite, with its connectivity features, can be controlled by an iPhone or Android-powered smartphone using a free app. The inclusion of GPS means it can record speed, elevation and location, while ANT+ lets you connect a heart rate monitor, cadence or speed sensor for extra data. All this information can be reviewed on the VIRB’s screen and embedded into the video - so you can see interesting stats like speed and altitude when playing back footage of your ride.

If you have a new Edge 810 bike computer, with a simple software update you can use it as remote for the VIRB using ANT+. So you could  have the camera on your helmet, or attached to a part of your bicycle frame, and wirelessly control it. The VIRB comes with a bundle of mounts, including a handlebar mount.

The VIRB has a ‘ski mode’ which is able to detect when you're descending a mountain, and when you're ascending. It does this to save battery and memory space. We’re awaiting reply from Garmin as to whether this could also work on the bike, so you could only record the descents, and not the climbs, when out riding, if that's your thing.

Availability is scheduled for October. More info at www.garmin.com

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

19 comments

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Harvey Wang [10 posts] 2 years ago
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Does this mean, if I have one of these gizmos with wi-fi, that I could send live footage of my ride to members of my family watching on computer or TV screen at home? Or that my missus would be able to tune in and find out whether I am getting rained on or not?

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Harvey Wang wrote:

Does this mean, if I have one of these gizmos with wi-fi, that I could send live footage of my ride to members of my family watching on computer or TV screen at home? Or that my missus would be able to tune in and find out whether I am getting rained on or not?

depends if you ride somewhere with constant uninterrupted wifi coverage - like your garage perhaps. Maybe you can tether the camera to a phone and use 3g to transmit a live feed but I suspect the wifi is just to allow wireless downloads.

I find it a bit weird how obtrusive some of the helmet mounting systems are for these camera, it seems like clamping a large lumpy sticking out thing to a helmet would pretty much invalidate it's effectiveness if you had an impact on that area, possibly make things much worse. Still, some people just love to be the star of their own movie these days.

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jimbocrimbo [49 posts] 2 years ago
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Of course the problem is you may forget to switch it off whilst sipping coffee and gorging on cake at the cafe stop. The missus may not be aware of or approve of that part of the ride

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Roberj4 [218 posts] 2 years ago
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I think GoPro has the market sewn up!

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pepita1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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Am thinking about getting a camera for the bike so that I can record the car registration of crazy motorists and moped riders who try to knock me off my bike.

Don't know what the GoPro does but I do like the sound of what the Garmin Elite model offers. Especially is I can start/stop recording by tapping a button on the Garmin 810 bike computer.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm not sure I see any point in videoing most bike rides. I mean I enjoy riding but they are usually rather uneventful aside from the occasional moronic driver, but that is a rarity

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notfastenough [3685 posts] 2 years ago
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Agreed, that's what has put me off most of the popular models so far - the gopro makes you look like a tellytubby.

I'm thinking of the Contour Roam - far less obtrusive, although I'll probably attach to the helmet still.

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David Arthur @d... [693 posts] 2 years ago
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jarredscycling wrote:

I'm not sure I see any point in videoing most bike rides. I mean I enjoy riding but they are usually rather uneventful aside from the occasional moronic driver, but that is a rarity

Never looked on YouTube? http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=cycling+head+cam

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 2 years ago
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The most important question I'd ask is how bad the rolling shutter effect is - this is what gives footage the jelly like quality you see in recordings from cameras attached to bikes. No word on that.

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pwake [376 posts] 2 years ago
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If these could give a live feed then I'd love to see them used for race coverage, particularly with the riders data shown on-screen, that would've been really cool for the Nice TTT or the descent of the Col de Sarenne in this years Tour for example.

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dave2041 [22 posts] 2 years ago
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Too expensive, well done Garmin yet again. I'll stick to my contour ty. What is with the "camera on an arm" deals? What's so bad about bullet style cameras?

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sc129806 [43 posts] 2 years ago
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I've been using an older Contour HD 1080P camera for the last 3 years as a helmet cam. Sure it doesn't have all the GPS and WiFi features but it does catch all my various action in glorious 60 FPS at 720, even the fall I took last week while corning too sharply in the wet. Bugger!
The Contour has never let me down yet (unlike my cycling ability) and I'll struggle to justify changing brands when it finally has one-knock too many.

I'm not sure why the 'bullet-cam' hasn't been as popular as the relatively bulky 'camera-on-a-stick' option like the GoPro?

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Wookie [236 posts] 2 years ago
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sc129806 wrote:

I'm not sure why the 'bullet-cam' hasn't been as popular as the relatively bulky 'camera-on-a-stick' option like the GoPro?

Simples the GoPro is used by professional TV/film companies so what’s good for them must be excellent for the rest of us  4

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David Arthur @d... [693 posts] 2 years ago
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dave2041 wrote:

Too expensive, well done Garmin yet again. I'll stick to my contour ty. What is with the "camera on an arm" deals? What's so bad about bullet style cameras?

Looks like Contour have lost the battle with GoPro, reports are they're going out of business. Shame http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-21/three-lessons-in-the-wipeout-of-contour-cameras[\url]

There are different mounts available, it's just pictured with one of the mounts that sticks to any surface. We'll get a closer look next week at Eurobike

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David Arthur @d... [693 posts] 2 years ago
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pwake wrote:

If these could give a live feed then I'd love to see them used for race coverage, particularly with the riders data shown on-screen, that would've been really cool for the Nice TTT or the descent of the Col de Sarenne in this years Tour for example.

That would be ace, like MotoGp and F1, with brilliant onboard footage. Don't think the UCI like cameras on bikes though, but maybe they'll change their mind in the future

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armb [100 posts] 2 years ago
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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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It would be a shame if Contour do cease business, they make a good well built product.
The problem I have with the go pro is the horrible looks, the horrible case, the price and over zealous fanboys. A bit like the Iphone hype.
Good on Garmin for stepping up and giving it a go, looks like it has some unique points, but out of my toy budget  2 . The more players in the market, the more they innovate.
I have the polaroid XS100, nice and cheap but still good quality.

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mrchrispy [454 posts] 2 years ago
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Hmmmm. if I was going to spend that money on kit I'd rather it went on actual bike stuff.

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daborrelli [5 posts] 1 year ago
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great idea,and maybe could try a 4G phone,would be fine to transfer HD live feed