Apart from making GPS navigation and fitness devices, Garmin has appeared to follow its own path in their line of action camera. They have released their latest action camera, the Garmin VIRB XE. The VIRB XE is built based on its predecessor, the VIRB Elite.
While it builds on the original, the VIRB XE is designed completely different and it has to be one of the best looking dash cams out there. Unlike the design of the VIRB Elite, the XE is more GoPro-like and is packed with many innovative features that stands it apart from the crowd.
Features & Design
Much like most action cameras, the VIRB XE is a small, compact, black matte box with the lens located on the front and features a 1-inch LCD square screen on the top-left, entirely ditching the preview screen which featured on the VIRB Elite.
On the top-right of the device is two small buttons that functions as the menu and power and on the right side are the shutter and switch-to-control video recording buttons. While on the left, is the camera’s lever that opens up the front of the camera revealing the slot for a MicroSD card and battery. And last but not least, a mount at the bottom which is compatible with many accessories.
While Garmin did not quote any IP ratings, the company claimed that the VIRB XE has no problems operating at subzero temperatures from -20C to 45C. The device can even cope with five atmospheres of pressure, which is equivalent to a depth of 50m underwater. All this is thanks to the secure latch on the front of the device that would be extremely difficult for any accidental openings.
Shooting Options & Specifications
While many would question the company’s decision to ditch the preview screen, the physical build and the design of the VIRB XE is magnificent. On paper, the shooting options and the specification of the cam are impressive as well.
|FUNCTION/FEATURE||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|PRICE||RM 1, 399||RM 1, 599|
|BLUETOOTH TO PHONE||YES||YES|
|ALTIMETER||NO (USES GPS ELEVATION)||NO (USES GPS ELEVATION)|
|ACCELLEROMETER||YES (+GYROSCOPE)||YES (+ GRYOSCOPE)|
|VIDEO PREVIEW SCREEN||NO||NO|
|BATTERY||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|RECORDING TIME||2 HOURS||2 HOURS|
|STORAGE||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|STORAGE CARD TYPE||MICRO-SD – UP TO 128GB||MICRO-SD – UP TO 128GB|
|VIDEO||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|1080P||25/30 FPS||24/25/30/48/50/60 FPS|
|960P||25/30 FPS||50/60/100 FPS|
|720P||25/30/50/60 FPS||25/30/50/60/100/120 FPS|
|WVGA||120 FPS||240 FPS|
|AUTOMATIC IMAGE ROTATION||YES||YES|
|PHOTO||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|MEGAPIXELS||12 MP||12 MP|
|TIMELAPSE MODE (INTERVAL)||YES||YES|
|BURST MODE||UP TO 10 PHOTOS/SECOND||UP TO 30 PHOTOS/SECOND|
|CONTINUOUS SHOOTING MODE||YES||YES|
|CONCURRENT W/VIDEO MODE||YES||YES|
|FEATURES||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|ANT+ PROFILE TYPES||HEART RATE, SPEED, CADENCE, TEMPERATURE, POWER (+ BLUETOOTH OBD DATA)||HEART RATE, SPEED, CADENCE, TEMPERATURE, POWER (+ BLUETOOTH OBD DATA)|
|SPORT DATA OVERLAYING||YES (VIA GARMIN APPS)||YES (VIA GARMIN APPS)|
|AUDIO||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|PHONE||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|APP PLATFORMS AVAILABLE||IOS/ANDROID/WINDOWS PHONE||IOS/ANDROID/WINDOWS PHONE|
|MULTI-CAMERA LIVE CONTROL/PREVIEW||UP TO 10 CAMERAS||UP TO 10 CAMERAS|
|SOFTWARE||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|VIRB EDIT||VIRB EDIT|
|ACCESSORY||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|REMOTE CONTROL BUTTON/KEY||YES||YES|
|DIVING CASE||NOT INCLUDED||NOT INCLUDED|
|DEVICE CONNECTIONS||GARMIN VIRB X||GARMIN VIRB XE|
|USB CONNECTOR TYPE||USB||USB|
|COMPOSITE VIDEO||ADAPTER AVAILABLE||ADAPTER AVAILABLE|
|AUDIO 3.5MM STEREO MIC||ADAPTER AVAILABLE||ADAPTER AVAILABLE|
Packed with the ability to shoot videos at a maximum of 1440p (1,920 x 1,440) at 30fps, the XE gets a significant upgrade from the VIRB Elite – though unfortunately 4K isn’t (but who would actually shoot 4K, unless you are shooting for National Geographic eh?). The VIRB XE can also shoot 1080ps up to 60fps, 960p at up to 100fps and 720p at up to 120fps. And then, there’s a slow motion mode that shoots 480p at 240fps.
For capturing images, the XE is built with a 12.4 megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that allows you to capture still images at 12 and 7 megapixels. On the other hand, the device also has a photo burst mode that can fire off 12 megapixel images at 30fps. And for the ever magnificent time lapses, the VIRB XE can be programmed to snap at intervals – up to two minutes apart. Unlike most action cams, the VIRB XE features image stabilization. Although this is mostly electronic, the XE is built with a gyro-detection to enhance its capability.
Performance & Use
Battery wise, the VIRB XE has somehow downgraded from its predecessors clocking in at 1 hour and 18 minutes of video shooting at 1080p at 30fps while majority of dash cams out there would have lasted on average about 2 hours before dying. However, you can always get additional batteries which all action camera owners always have to no matter what brand of cams they have. We also noticed that the battery on the VIRB XE would still be full of juice for longer than a day or two which is a plus. In some other action cams however, when we’re to grab it off our desk for our next time lapse only to find it completely drained. With the XE, the problem ceased to exist.
One other thing that is unique to the VIRB XE is that its interactivity with Garmin’s humongous family of ANY+ sensors makes it a joy of a camera to shoot our precious moments. We hooked up the camera with a heart rate monitor to find it more than amusing as all our recordings and heart rates are recorded quite accurately.
Shooting videos on the XE at 1080p at 30 fps, the quality is still stunning while it may not look as crisp or saturated as the GoPros, it is still a great action camera for everybody else who don’t shoot 4Ks. The VIRB XE also does well even in varying light conditions and underwater. The XE shoots impressed even in low-light conditions, capturing bright and colorful shots in poor illumination.
Even though the action camera market is becoming becoming fiercely competitive, Garmin has still managed to come out with an extreme yet stunningly designed action camera packed with unique features which could probably make it an irresistible choice.
While the absence of 4K shooting is not likable, the company’s decision to not include a preview screen could be a major let down. But otherwise, the VIRB XE compensates for the excellent resolution and various frame choice, handy manual settings, great image quality and sensor connectivity. If you are not really picky, you might wanna take the cheaper VIRB X into consideration but without the 1440p and lesser frame-rate options, it is probably worthier to get the XE for an extra of RM 300.
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