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Garmin launches game-changing HD action sports camera

New VIRB line offers ANT+ and WiFi connectivity, as well as a host of editing and social capabilities

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Garmin is jumping into the action camera market with two new offerings dubbed the Virb and Virb Elite, the Kansas City-based maker of global positioning systems announced on Tuesday.

The rugged, weatherproofed cameras are the company’s first true HD cameras, and the more expensive Elite version will come equipped with a suite of unique features born of Wifi and ANT+ connectivity as well as an array of internal sensors.

Both the Virb and Virb Elite models are based off the same structure: a 1080p, HD-quality, digitally image-stabilized video camera with an energy-efficient Chroma color display for control and playback. Both will provide three hours of record time on a single battery charge. The camera body is water resistant, capable of being submerged to three feet for 30 minutes, and is available with a wide variety of mounts, as well as an “industry standard” (read: GoPro) mount adapter for those who already have action camera hardware.

Both Virb models are able to take 16-megapixel still images and include both a burst mode and time-lapse options. The WideVü lens is matched up with digital image stabilization and distortion correction features, helping to minimize camera shake and remove the fisheye look common with many action cameras.

The Virb Elite adds a host of unique connectivity features to the Virb’s solid package, allowing users to take advantage of an impressive ecosystem of apps, head units, internal sensors, and desktop software. The Elite features high-sensitivity GPS, an accelerometer, an altimeter, and both WiFi and ANT+ connectivity.

The location, speed, and elevation data from the GPS and other sensors, as well as data pulled in through the ANT+ protocol from a heart rate monitor or power meter, can be added into videos during the edit process.

WiFi allows users to connect the Elite to a free iOS or Android mobile app, which will provide preview, playback, and remote functionality. Garmin will also provide a desktop software that will allow users to edit footage, including adding the aforementioned sensor data, and share on sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

The accelerometer and altimeter sensors provide another handy feature: in Ski Mode, the VIRB Elite is able to recognize the difference between going up and down the mountain, turning on automatically for the way down and off for the way up; a handy feature for any lift-access mountain bikers.

A firmware update to Garmin’s Edge 810 cycling computers will enable it, along with a host of other Garmin GPS units, to act as a remote for the Virb. Users will be able to start and stop recording and take stills using the touch screen on their cycling computer. A standalone accessory remote will be available as well.

Both the Virb and Virb Elite will be widely available in early September. The Virb will retail for $300 and the Virb Elite for $400.

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