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.

garmin-virb-xe-action-camera
Source: gearjunkie

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.

garmin-virb-xe-action-camera-screen
Source: ikennd

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.

garmin-virb-xe-action-camera-battery

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.

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FUNCTION/FEATURE GARMIN VIRB X GARMIN VIRB XE
PRICE RM 1, 399 RM 1, 599
WI-FI  YES YES
BLUETOOTH TO PHONE YES YES
RECORDING LIGHT YES YES
GPS  YES YES
ALTIMETER NO (USES GPS ELEVATION) NO (USES GPS ELEVATION)
WATER RESISTANT 50M 50M
ACCELLEROMETER YES (+GYROSCOPE) YES (+ GRYOSCOPE)
VIDEO PREVIEW SCREEN NO NO
BATTERY GARMIN VIRB X GARMIN VIRB XE
PORT USB USB
REMOVABLE BATTERY YES YES
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
4K NO NO
2.7K NO NO
1440P NO 30 FPS
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
TIMELAPSE MODE YES YES
AUTOMATIC IMAGE ROTATION YES YES
LOOPING RECORDINGS 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
COMPUTER CONTROL YES YES
ANT+ CONNECTIVITY YES YES
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
INTERNAL MICROPHONE YES YES
PHONE GARMIN VIRB X GARMIN VIRB XE
APP PLATFORMS AVAILABLE IOS/ANDROID/WINDOWS PHONE IOS/ANDROID/WINDOWS PHONE
REMOTE CONTROL YES YES
VIDEO STREAMING YES YES
VIDEO RECORDING YES YES
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
MICRO-HDMI NO NO
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.

Image Quality

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.

Conclusion

garmin-virb-xe-action-camera-conclusion
Source: garmin

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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