While we all wait to see if GoPro can find a new hero with its upcoming flagship, and remain king of the action camera, it's time for other manufacturers to show us what they've got to offer. Garmin has used IFA to do this with the Virb Ultra 30, its 4K-shooting flagship which is packed with sensors, and can be controlled by your voice.
The Virb Ultra 30 is the most GoPro-looking action camera we've seen from Garmin. The firm started out with bullet-shaped action-cameras, before moving to a rectangular form. But the new Virb Ultra 30 could almost be mistaken for a GoPro. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and not something uncommon in the action camera market.
In terms of recording options, the new Virb makes the jump to 4K, which it can record at 30 fps (frames per second). It can do 2.7K video at 60 fps too, along with Full HD 1080p at up to 120 fps, HD 720p at 240 fps, and 480p at 300 fps, for really slow motion action. 3-axis image stabilization is also said to keep otherwise shaky footage looking smooth.
Another new feature is voice control. This allows hands-free control over the Virb Ultra 30 by saying commands such as "OK Garmin, start recording," or "OK Garmin, remember that," to tag specific moments from recordings. This could be particularly useful given that the times you're most likely to want to do those things – such as when you're hurtling down a mountain, or pulling a stunt – are the exact times you don't want to be fiddling with the camera.
That said, the rear 1.75-inch touchscreen is said to be easy to operate, even when inside the waterproof case, which is good up to depths of 40 m (130 ft). A newly designed high-sensitivity microphone delivers clear audio in the case, which normally results in muffled sounds. The mounts on the bottom on the cases look suspiciously like they'll also be compatible with existing GoPro accessories.
Garmin has continued to pack the new action camera full of sensors which include an accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, and compass. This allows you to overlay proof of just how fast you were going, or how high you jumped, on top of the video footage. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ANT+ give plenty of connectivity options, including pairing with other sensors, such as a heart rate monitor.
The companion Virb app for Android or iOS lets users control the camera remotely, add those data overlays, and make use of an assisted video editor which uses the sensors to predict your best bits. The app can also be used to share recorded videos, or steam footage live to YouTube. Battery life is up to 135 minutes at 1080p 30 fps, or 75 minutes if shooting 4K.
The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 is available now, priced at US$500.
You can check out a promo video for the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 below.
Source: Garmin Virb Ultra 30
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