Ever since GoPro came along, everyone has suddenly gotten an interest in these so-called ‘action cameras’ – tough, durable cameras meant to take a beating as you undertake all manner of physical activities. The VIRB X is Garmin’s latest take on the fast-growing category, offering a product that is a far cry from its previous offering, the VIRB Elite. Has Garmin done enough to finally crack the market?
The VIRB X is a far cry from its predecessor, with a much smaller body that is more akin to a GoPro. Unfortunately, getting to that size came at a cost: the VIRB X does not come with a preview display screen, which is quite a bummer as since there isn’t even a physical viewfinder, it can be quite a challenge to properly frame your shots and viewing pictures and videos is no longer possible on the device. Though Garmin does provide an app that can act as a viewfinder, it’s rather cumbersome, and the connection is pretty iffy.
The design of the VIRB X though, is nothing to scoff at. Made out of a very tough plastic shell, the VIRB X feels like it’ll survive even the harshest environment. Even more amazing is unlike a standard GoPro, the device is waterproof out of the box, up to 50m! This means you don’t have to lug about a waterproof casing with you, which is always appreciated when packing for trips.
At the bottom of the device you’ll find a Universal Mount which is compatible with just about anything out there, though Garmin does include a mount that can be attached to a given surface using a powerful adhesive. The front cover can be opened to reveal the battery housing and the microSD card slot. There’s even a fog tray where you can insert a moist absorbing material to ensure there isn’t any condensation build up when you’re out recording epic adventures in cold climates or under the sea.
Garmin may not be the first name you think of when it comes to action cameras, but its video and picture quality is definitely worthy to be shared; recording at 1080p and 30 fps, it isn’t quite as buttery as the 60fps that the VIRB XE is capable of, but the quality is still really impressive.
Colors were vibrant and the picture is full of detail. One downside though is that the VIRB X doesn’t come with electronic image stabilisation, resulting in some shaky video footage. Still images turned out pretty good, though some of pictures did turn out slightly too sharp for my taste.
The VIRB X is a truly interesting product in a world dominated by GoPros. Its removable battery is a welcome addition in an industry that has largely gone with built-in non-removable batteries and the fact that it’s waterproof out of the box further heightens its appeal among travelers. Still, the fact that you need to use an app to act as a viewfinder does dampen its usability somewhat. If you’re in the market for an action camera, add this into the list alongside the GoPro. You might be surprised which one you go for.
Verdict: Durable and capable, the Garmin VIRB X is as capable an action camera as any on the market.
Total Score: 7.6/10
Written by Daryl Tan