Garmin is a company that’s probably best-known for its satellite navigation devices, but yesterday it announced that it’s venturing into a new product category: actioncams. Its first two camcorders, the VIRB and VIRB Elite, definitely sound like they could give the GoPro HERO a run for its money.

The base VIRB model shoots at either 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps. It features a 1.4-inch color viewfinder/playback screen that’s illuminated with reflected ambient light, thus saving the power that would otherwise go into illuminating a back light. Other features include IPX7 waterproofing (meaning that it can withstand being submerged to one meter/3.3 ft for 30 minutes), two-way ANT+ wireless connectivity with other Garmin devices (which can be used as remote controls), video enhancement options such as digital image stabilization and lens distortion correction, and the ability to shoot 16-megapixel stills even while simultaneously recording video.

It can reportedly run for three hours on one charge of its 2,000-mAh lithium-ion battery, and can record up to seven hours of 1080p video, if a user-supplied 64GB microSD card is utilized. Recording is started and stopped simply by sliding one prominent switch on the side – a feature that users of the harder-to-figure-out GoPro should appreciate.

Options include a dive housing that allows it to be taken down as far as 50 meters (164 ft), plus the various mounts that we’ve come to expect with most actioncams.

Garmin hasn’t stated the exact field of view of the VIRB’s glass lens, although it can apparently shoot in three modes – wide, medium and narrow.

The VIRB Elite’s additional features include GPS, an accelerometer and an altimeter, which allow location, speed and altitude data to be embedded within the footage. It also has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, so it can be be remotely controlled using an iOS or Android smartphone app. Additionally, in Ski Mode, it automatically starts recording when you’re heading down the slopes, but pauses as you’re taking the lift back up.

The VIRB will sell for US$299.99, with the VIRB Elite going for $399.99. Both cameras should be available as of next month.

Footage shot using them can be seen in the video below.

Source: Garmin via BikeRadar

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