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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic alternative to GoPro Action Cameras with GPS
Was looking for an small camera to use on board a light aircraft and for timelapses and originally intended to purchase the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition, which many friends use. However, GoPro recently changed the lens design for the Hero 3+ and as a result the focal length is far poorer than before - fine for close up action, but not great for aviation (or anything where...
Published 10 months ago by Ross

versus
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I really want to like this device but it's riddled with bugs and I'm ...
I really want to like this device but it's riddled with bugs and I'm on the point of returning it.

The device has serious firmware issues causing frequent malfunctions. It's unreliable and unpredictable. Typically, it won't shut down or start up, it loses recordings, will not stop recording, and locks up in some undefinable state. Garmin really need to get...
Published 2 months ago by MIke


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic alternative to GoPro Action Cameras with GPS, 13 Feb 2014
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Was looking for an small camera to use on board a light aircraft and for timelapses and originally intended to purchase the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition, which many friends use. However, GoPro recently changed the lens design for the Hero 3+ and as a result the focal length is far poorer than before - fine for close up action, but not great for aviation (or anything where you want a distant image in focus) - for this and other reasons I found myself looking around and found VIRB by Garmin.

The camera itself feels every bit as well built as the competition, if not better, and even offers a degree of water-protection without any additional cases. Personally I prefer the more streamlined form factor (although there others who would argue the 'square' look of the others is better as you can fit it closer against a surface, I've not noticed that much of a difference that limits placement. On a related note, the locking mounts are feel far more robust than some of the others.

The image quality is superb, the battery life is great (over 3 hours, even with GPS) and the included VIRB Edit software that allows you to overlay GPS tracks and other sensor information (GPS speed, altitude etc) is a nice touch although a bit clunky at times - but I'm sure future versions will improve this. It also saves standard GPX files to the card along with video recordings, which can be used by any application.

It's also very handy to have a display on the camera (although the quality is no-where near that suggested by the PR images produced by Garmin it's certainly good enough to use to frame a shot or to level the camera, using a display which looks very much like an aircraft attitude indicator)

There's a few downsides worth mentioning;

The battery takes forever to charge (taking almost 6 hours next to the Go Pro's 2 hour recharge time!) so a spare battery is essential if you want to record more than 3 hours in a day. This is probably my biggest bugbear with the device.

The WiFi application is still quite limited (as of February 2014), there's no ability to download / share footage using an iPad/iPhone etc - it must be connected to the computer to retrieve video - and there's no live view whilst recording (although you can use it as a viewfinder when not recording)

It doesn't support the same range of video formats as GoPro and others, which now boast 4K video amongst other things. However, I don't own anything capable of displaying 4K video, and don't really have the storage space for it either, so I don't really consider this a negative - but it's worth mentioning.

The included mounts are two sticky backed mounts, and that's it, they're obviously not repositionable and whilst probably ideal if you want to mount one to a helmet / car / aircraft that you own it would be good to see an included suction or clip mount - rather than paying £24 for the official Garmin suction mount (which, in itself, isn't as well designed as it could be) to complement the camera - there is also an adapter to allow you to use the VIRB with most existing GoPro mounts however it's worth noting this adds over an inch to the length of the mount, and can be quite awkward with some.

I used one of the included mounts to make my own standard tripod to VIRB adapter, which I use with a Gorilla Pod with great success so far.

Overall there's a few things that could be improved, but the VIRB is a fantastic alternative to the popular action cameras, it is a bit pricey (February 2014) but comparable to the GoPro Hero 3 Black which doesn't have a display or GPS, but the VIRB loses out on the larger format video (4K etc) - so it depends what's more important to you. Personally the GPS functionality makes it ideal for my primary intended use (in light aircraft).

Finally, and I always hate reviews that review the service rather than the product (you see lots of 1* reviews from people who received damaged goods, or they were late etc - which is entirely unfair as it has no bearing on the product), I feel it's worth mentioning that Amazon customer service excelled in getting a replacement VIRB to me quickly after this order was lost in transit.
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Garmin Virb HD Elite Action Camera with GPS and Wi-Fi - White/Black - Good but certainly not perfect, 17 Jan 2014
By 
M. G. Raines (Reading England) - See all my reviews
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I have been actively using this VIRB Elite for a few months now so I feel I can write a valid review WRT using it on my cycle helmet and also in car attached to the windscreen.

Firstly the product itself and the packaging it comes in is very impressive and the VIRB is a well constructed item that is overall very easy to use and get to grips with. I like the fact it has a built in screen that is used for the setup and the buttons provide good tactile responses and even more so when you set the beep to work on button presses. I really like the large record now slider button that is easy to use even with big gloves on. What you need to remember though is the screen runs off ambient light so you may need to be near a light source to get the best viewing. On the flip side, the LED for being charged or recording is to the top of the screen and when it's green it takes your focus away from the screen and is annoying. I normally put a finger over it.
The menu system works well on the screen and is easy to use but like another reviewer, if you set it to use WiFi all the setup control is taken away locally and you need to use your smartphone app. This wasn't clear until I worked out what was going on. Note the WiFi will connect to a PC but there is no software for controlling from a PC. Personally, I have found using the WiFi very problematic with my Android smartphone and I'm not impressed with that part of it. Essentially the VIRB sets itself as a WiFi hotspot that the phone connects to.

In cycling use . I mainly use the VIRB for a 10 mile round trip commute and it fits well onto the vented cycle helmet strap (extra cost item) that I use. I think it's a shame the helmet strap isn't included in the price. The VIRB is easy to clip in even wearing the helmet and using the instant record slider switch is great. It emits a reassuring beep at the start and end of recording and the LED flashes red. I have tried a number of the video settings for cycling and then imported those clips into the VIRB Edit software. What I am finding is that even at high 60fps rates it's not easy to pause the video and get a number plate recognition. I suspect that's the VIRB Edit having problems. Back to cycling the unit has been used in both dry and very wet conditions and I have not had any problems. Obviously the video quality suffers with rain drops on the lens though. To cut down on the wind noise on the microphone keep the small foam plug in place on the VIRB mount. I was hoping that the VIRB would sit closer to the helmet and it certainly is quite prominent.

In car use. I had to buy the Garmin windscreen mount and this means that due to the sloping screen the VIRB has to be mounted inverted and you need to make sure you select the inversion video option from the Advanced menu. For longer journeys I plug in a USB cable to charge the VIRB at the same time. One point here is that I was confused that if you charge the unit and record the LED may stay green instead of flashing red and this was strange. It seems to do with how you plug things together in order but it does record while charging. To improve the microphone remove the small foam plug on the VIRB mount and it will pick up all your conversations and background music/radio.

In house use: I have successfully use the time lapse functions and they make for some very amusing short clips so those functions work well.

VIRB Edit software. This is the editing software that you have to down load to import your videos into once the VIRB is connected to your PC. Overall I think it does a reasonable job and works OK and provides a range of data overlays you can select.
Garmin web site. I have previous registered another product with Garmin but their UK web site didn't seem setup to find or register the VIRB. However if you do enter the product serial number then it is recognised. I have since had both the VIRB edit and the VIRB firmware update successfully.

I have had the odd lock up or freeze of the VIRB and I hope the Edit software will perhaps improve together with the WiFi to the phone. I think it would be nice to have some control software for a PC too.
As has been mentioned this site has a good review and comments:
[...]

Overall the VIRB is a very solid piece of kit and pretty much does a good job but there is room for improvement and for that reason I think 4 stars is valid.

June 2014 - update
So, I was getting increasingly fed up with the unit just freezing where it would just lock up and not record anything. I made sure it was all up to the latest firmware and in the end called Garmin. They were brilliant and after confirming it was a registered product and up to date with firmware, I shipped mine back as just the carcass (no battery etc) and within a week they had shipped me a brand new unit all fully boxed with all the accessories too. So far this new unit has not let me down and I have just upgraded to firmware 3.70. Impressive Garmin customer support.

August 2014 - update
I have used the VIRB Elite for a week of extreme MTB in the French Alps and it worked wonderfully producing some great video coming down the mountain trails into Val d'Isere. Even on misty rainy days with plenty of mud flying it produced amazingly clear and stable footage attached to my helmet.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A credible alternative to the GoPro - especially with the GPS functionality, 21 Jun 2014
After an experience when a driver pulled out in front of me as I was cycling and suddenly stopped for no reason, I decided it was time to invest in a camera that could record any future incidents. In addition I sea-kayak so I also wanted a camera that was waterproof for filming trips.

I looked at the obvious model - GoPro - but I was concerned by the number of reviews criticising the focus being too close and making a lot of the depth blurred. Not much use if I wanted to use any film to support me in any incident or for filming the fantastic UK coastline from my sea-kayak. I'm sure they'll sort it out and its otherwise a great piece of kit based on many other reviews, just not for me at the time.

With further research I found and purchased the Garmin Virb Elite and no regrets to date.

Positives:

+ Decent quality filming. I don't profess to be an expert, but at least when I playback and pause I can make out details such as registration numbers (though not every time). Also the overall image is clear so you can get a good view of the landscape (at least on a laptop).

+ Besides video and still images, GPS allows lots more functionality to be a more versatile tool, such as:
- speedometer (current, average and maximum speed on a trip)
- distance covered
- climb/descent profile of trip
- stopwatch

+ Generally simple and intuitive to use, but haven't mastered the stopwatch. Particularly easy to record - push a large button forward and it starts recording (though there is a brief delay of up to 1-2 seconds so does not appear to be instant)

+ Waterproof (IPX7 = up to 1 metre for up to 30 minutes), though I've not tried it sea kayaking yet, so this is TBC. The rubber seal covering on the USB access point doesn't look too tight, but will double check warranty/instructions and give it a go in coming weeks/months and update accordingly

+ A fully charged battery seems to last around 3 hours in recording mode which has been plenty for me so far, but may not be enough for longer trips that you want to record in full. You can buy spare Garmin Li-ion batteries for longer trips.

+ Clear screen so you can easily set up what you're filming, rather than getting it home and finding you've been focussed on the wrong point.

+ The design looks sleek and modern. It looks/feels high quality as you would expect.

+ All the connectors I've bought (eg. for bike attachment) have been good quality and provide a secure hold.

Negatives:

- My biggest issue is that if recording, then you can't change the display screen so you have to choose what screen you want it to be set on before you start recording. Unfortunately that means you have to choose one of video, speedometer, distance covered, climb profile or stopwatch. As my main use to date has been cycling it would have been better to have a summary option with simplified speed + distance + time + climb metrics. This could easily be achieved by not having all the sub options (eg. current + average + maximum speed on a trip from the speedometer) as these can be reviewed at the end of the trip. Or simply allow the user to switch while recording. I've struggled to decide whether I should lose a star for this. Whilst this isn't the main functionality of the unit, it has proven to be an obvious miss from me as a cyclist. However, it's main competitor doesn't offer this functionality at all, so I don't believe it justifies taking a star off.

- Stills have a fishbowl effect due to the lens (though I haven't noticed it in the video I've shot). Having said that, not a major issue as I bought it for the videoing, not the stills.

Overall - for my needs - I love the product and I believe it has several advantages over the GoPro for those who see a benefit in using the GPS technology to provide additional insights, without losing the fundamentals of a robust action camera.

(For information a 64GB micro SD card seems to hold around 7 hours of filming based on my experience to date.)

SIX MONTH UPDATE:

After six months use I thought I'd add a couple of points on battery life.

On a 5 hour bike ride, just using it as a stats tracker (eg. av speed and distance) rather than as a video recorder, the battery lasted just four and a bit hours. With recording and GPS on seems to last around three hours. Really disappointing and needs improving. A spare battery doesn't help as you have to find a convenient location to switch them and lose the earlier data from the trip. I believe you can extend the life by reducing the frequency it registers your position, but I don't know the impact on data accuracy/recording so I'll try that out and feedback later

I have also found with charging that when it's plugged into the USB it switches itself on after a few seconds and you have to physically switch it off. Early on I hadn't realised this and left it charging a couple of days and came back and found it still switched on.

Almost loses a star for this, but as most of my trips are closer to three hours it just about works (with a little frustration). Overall though, still does what I need it to do (record) and more (stats) so I'll live with these niggles
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I really want to like this device but it's riddled with bugs and I'm ..., 21 Oct 2014
By 
MIke (Gloucestershire, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really want to like this device but it's riddled with bugs and I'm on the point of returning it.

The device has serious firmware issues causing frequent malfunctions. It's unreliable and unpredictable. Typically, it won't shut down or start up, it loses recordings, will not stop recording, and locks up in some undefinable state. Garmin really need to get this sorted. Looking on the forums, I'm not the only one with these problems. One more thing, the Garmins support line is dreadful - confusing menu options and interminable queues. Once you can get someone to answer your call, they're quite helpful - but still no solution to the device problems.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does the Job!, 7 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Garmin Virb HD Action Camera - Black (16MP) 1.4 inch LCD (Electronics)
I received this camera just after Christmas and have taken it out three times ski mountaineering in the Scottish highlands using the head strap mount. Conditions were generally very poor; overcast with very strong winds and frequent rain, sleet and snow showers. All of which were handled surprisingly well by the Virb.

One problem I encountered was with spindrift freezing onto the lens causing a blurred picture; hardly the camera's fault! The only other problem was that the video was a little underexposed. This is caused by the predominantly white (snow) scene which tended to go grey. On a good quality still camera I would normally overexpose by about one stop in snow landscapes but this is not an option with the Virb (and I suspect is not an option with any other action camera). It is, however, pretty easy to fix with video editing software with a slight lift in brightness and contrast.

The videos are sharp and are saved at a very high bit rate (over 20,000 kbps) which results in large clip sizes but this in turn means that there is no noticeable loss in quality when they are edited and resaved (at a lower bitrate). The clips were also pretty steady even when I was skiing whilst recording. How much of that is down to my good skiing style (unlikely!) and how much due to the lens stabilisation I can't really say. However, overall I am very, very impressed with this little fella!

One thing to note is that the ability to take a still photo without interrupting video recording is not quite as clever as it first appears. The still is taken at the same resolution as the video (1920 x 1080 in my case) rather than at the 4608 x 3456 resolution I was getting when not recording. In other words I suspect all it is doing is snatching a frame from the recording which can be done just as easily afterwards with most video editing software.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garmin virb, 30 Oct 2013
This review is from: Garmin Virb HD Action Camera - Black (16MP) 1.4 inch LCD (Electronics)
I bought this as an alternative to the legendary "go-pro" due to the fact that it has a view screen already built into it, rather than an added accessory that you need to buy with a go-pro, something that I feel is quite important when using a camera.
Overall I think the Garmin Virb is a good solid construction that is designed to take knocks with relative ease, a must for an action camera, it also stands up to water pretty well, but for proper underwater use,you would need a dedicated case (same as the Go-pro)
It comes with a couple of basic stick-on mounts and necessary brackets, but you soon find yourself looking for more dedicated mounts which at the time of writing take a bit of hunting down on the internet (try 'Force 4 Chandlery' they seem to stock a fair few accessories) ,
The main thing with any action camera is the quality of the picture, I won't go into spec comparisons with the go-pro here, but I think the picture on the Virb is pretty good and at 1080 hd with a 32 GB micro sd card you get over 3 1/2 hours of footage and the battery seems more than capable. I would say the picture quality is as good as a Go-pro from what I have seen but I am no expert so some may disagree, I use my camera mainly for mountain biking and the film I made when blown up on a large tv watched via YouTube was a bit pixelated and blurred in places but watched on a tablet device or computer gave an excellent picture which was very clear, I have not tried streaming the footage directly from the Virb to the tv yet but that may give a good picture that way, I'm not sure, and I have yet to experiment with all the editing programmes you can download from Garmin on to a computer.
In summary I would highly reccomend the Garmin Virb as an alternative to a Go-Pro, it is very simple to use and you just have to slide a switch to start filming anywhere, it is also quite a bit cheaper when you consider you don't have to buy a screen for it on top of all the other accessories
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars VIRB excellent, software VIRB edit not!, 3 Aug 2014
I own a VIRB elite few months now. 5 star goes for for camera, for simplicity of use and quality. Having said that, the camera is partly useful because of the VIRB edit software they provide for free. VIRB edit is necessary, oherwise you end up with huge video files that are not manageable, especially if you want to upload over social media. The firs version of VIRB edit worked fairly well for an amateur user, though a bit slow! But that's life. Recently the uploaded the 2.5.1 VIRB edit, that essentially requires to change your computer hardware!!! So, if you use a proffessional video edit software your videos will be fun to work, viw and share. If not, the VIRB is relatively useless, unless you ytake short pieces of video. But I would not pay the premium on Garmin just for that! Therefore they need to sort out their software policy and compatibility for their average customer, like me and probably you. As a matter of fact, when I bought the nice camera, I did not agree that needed a complete hardware upgrade at home, to use the product. So potential buyers, wait until the software thing is resolved, unless you end up with endless video shots that are partly enjoyable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Piece of Kit, 4 Sep 2014
By 
Mr. Roy Clark "OldFeller007" (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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Superb piece of kit, used mainly for my motorcycle trips, found the brackets easy to fit to helmet and secure with plenty of adjustment. Image quality is superb, down side is that adjusting setting on the camera is fiddly, but using the iPhone app transform all that and the phone becomes the viewing screen as well as the remote control,great for aligning the camera on the helmet.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 9oz extra weight on cycle helmet., 15 May 2014
By 
R. Castle "dilligaf" (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this as I have a Garmin Edge and can operate the device remotely.

Garmin has released a device that is trying to please as many people as possible. It has longer battery life and lots of GPS functions and data information.

I have tried this camera on my bike, on the handlebars and mounted on the helmet. All I can say is that it really does not matter what features this camera has, it is not very comfortable mounted to my bike helmet, it is a extra 260 grams in weight and depending on the position can make the helmet feel unbalanced.

So if you purchase this item just for cycle helmets, I would investigate the competition more in terms of size and weight. The camera weighs 180 gram and the helmet mount and cradle is 80 gram. I would suggest comfort over weight and if you had to go for a competitor which is a lot lighter and less battery life.

What i like about the camera is that is has a good amount of protection all round the body and it has lots of features, that will show lots of information when watching the videos. The camera is fairly easy to use.

This is my first video Camera and the fisheye lens takes some interesting pictures, but i think detail is lost due the compactness of the camera and the size of the sensor.

The camera on the handlebar mount is brilliant and I like the fact, I am carrying no extra weight on my body.

the camera does come with a plastic bracket that allows you to mount the camera onto gopro mounts, which can be very handy if there isn't a garmin mount out there for the job.

I recommend when you buy one of these cameras you add another £100 to your budget for the accessories, memory card, charger, bike mount, extra cradle, another battery(useful for weekends away), screen protectors.

If you have several cradles, you can quickly remove the camera whilst riding and attach it to another position in seconds, rather than unscrewing the bracket to change its position. There has been times where the screws holding the camera has worked loose.

Having looked/played around with the gopro camera for 5 minutes, I think the real pluses on this camera is the ease of use and how easily and quickly you can navigate through the menus, with 4 buttons to operate and a screen to read, it makes life a lot easier to operate, it also has a slider to turn on the film mode and off. I found just setting it up was easier, because it is GPS it will automatically detect the time zone you are in the sync the time. The camera has several different zoom modes, depending on the setting between 2 and 5 from ultra wide to ultra zoom. From my experience ultra zoom is still pretty compared to a normal camera.

I did find it a bit tricky to connect the camera to my Garmin Edge cycle computer, it might take a while to figure out how to sync the two up, but this is one of the plus points, but edge cycle computer needs to have a firmware update before doing this. I have found when operating the camera via the edge the camera can lose signal at times and you may need to switch on and off for a re-connection.

The camera does allow you to take photos whilst riding, but I have discovered whilst filming it is only at the resolution of the video and not at your photo resolution. If you want to take pictures you are better off turning off the video mode.

Garmin have updated there camera firmware, so after downloading the camera is capable of both ntsc and pal, but pal seems to record at a slower frame rate to the other.

The GPS function of this camera is the main selling point in my opinion, the added bonus is it is like a second cycle computer on the bike. The data which can be collected, is speed, direction, altitude, cadence, heart rate, power and possibly temperature.

Overall I give 3 stars, because of it being too bulky for a cycle helmet. If you are not waring it, then I suggest 4 stars.
I think it would be nicer if the memory card was more accessible and not behind the battery unit and the device came with its own battery charger

I have not had a chance to compare the camera with another brand on film/ picture quality yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent video camera with added bonus of in-built Garmin GPS device (Edge 200/500 or similar), 4 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Amazing sale price and happy with it because it it is also a GPS device in it's own right so you do not really need a Garmin Edge 100/200/500 as well. I didn't see this mentioned in any reviews and thought this was just a video camera that could import data from a GPS device.
I love the video output options - there are many overlay options allowing you to select what data you want to display on the video.
The only downside so far is that the battery can't cope with more than 2 hours of recording if you have the Viewfinder showing the road ahead. If I avoid the live viewfinder, it appears to be a little better but for long rides of 3 hrs plus, I think you either need a spare battery or the excellent Garmin external battery pack - fortunately I already had the latter for use with my Garmin 800 on very long rides (100 miles plus).
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