I have put off buying an action camera for years now, mainly due to pricing. So when I saw a special for a Garmin VIRB Elite online I jumped at the opportunity. Here are my first impressions.
So first mistake I made was not checking to see what else I needed to order; the unit needs a microSD card to operate and this is not included. Luckily I work for a tech company and I could have one on my desk by the next morning.
The unit needs to be charged. I used the provided USB cable and my laptop. The initial charge took about 5 hours, but I believe the normal charging time is less than that. Don’t be a chop like me and forget to put the battery pack into the unit before plugging it in!
The Quickstart Manual included in the box is just that and it is worth downloading the full Owner’s Manual here: http://static.garmin.com/pumac/VIRB_OM_EN.pdf. Having said that, the unit is pretty easy to operate, and I could work the basics out without referring to a manual at all.
Of course I was dying to see what the quality of the footage was going to be like. I captured some footage from the car on the way home. As soon as I arrived home I loaded the edit suite on my laptop, connected the camera (using the same provided USB cable) and downloaded the footage. And I am pretty impressed. Admittedly I do not have anything to compare to — I would certainly like to compare the quality to that of a GoPro at some stage.
The free edit suite can be downloaded here: http://www.garmin.com/en-US/shop/downloads/virb-edit. It seems pretty straight forward. The main feature, and the selling point for the VIRB Elite, is the ability to overlay the data over your footage. That means funky dials with GPS data like speed & direction, as well as another other sensor data you may have recorded from a heart-rate monitor or temperature sensor. It simply looks extremely cool!
For loads of insight and tips into the unit, read master reviewer DC Rainmaker‘s in-depth review here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/12/garmin-depth-review.html On Garmin site: https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-trail/action-cameras/virb-elite/prod119594.html
Use Garmin Express to register and update your device. You can also upload track to your profile as you would with a Garmin Forerunner for instance.
I am super-chuffed that my Garmin tempe (bought for the Garmin fēnix review) works with the Virb giving temp data. The tempe does not work with my Forerunner so I am pleased I will finally have access to temperature data.
I suspect the reason for the massive discount is that Garmin are trying to clear stock before the launch of their newer offering, the VIRB X and VIRB XE. Again, DC Rainmaker provides the low-down: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/04/garmin-virb-x-xe-action-cams.html