Garmin’s GPS-enabled Virb action cam is back, bad, rad, mad, ready to take on GoPro

The Virb X and XE are also smaller, lighter and tougher than the original Virb

Garmin has announced two new Virb action cameras, the X and XE, to take on GoPro's market-leading GoPro Hero 4 with enhanced features and a complete redesign in terms of both looks and control.

The X and XE look identical but the XE (Elite) version has a higher maximum resolution, frame rate and price. Both new models feature Wi-Fi, GPS, an accelerometer and Full ANT+ sensor capabilities – to enable the cameras to gather data from other devices such as heart rate monitors and bicycle power meters.

The new design is also different to the previous generation. The original bullet-style body has been replaced with a more rectangular design, and there’s no need for a waterproof housing any more because both models can be used down to a depth of 50m as they are – that’s 10m deeper than a GoPro.

Garmin’s unique selling point is GPS, but these cameras go further. There’s now a gyroscope built in, and Garmin’s G-Metrix technology uses this built in sensor to show speed and G-Force in animated overlays when viewing data back through software. ‘Without data, it’s just video,” says Garmin.

The new design also sees a new mounting system, which uses a tight quick release mechanism, and a the moment it looks that it will retain full compatibility with the GoPro mounting system.

Resolution and frame rates are key specs for an action camera, and the X and XE can both shot 1080p full HD at 25/30fps, but the XE offers a wider choice of frame rates, going up to 50/60p. It can also go beyond full HD to record 1440p footage at 30fps. And where the X model can shoot 720p video at 60fps for half-speed slow motion playback, the XE can go up to 120fps

Pro video options are starting to become important for action cams and Garmin follows the trend by enabling a Pro mode for adjusting white balance, ISO, sharpness, exposure, and colour profile. Garmin has also added a GPS timestamp feature to synchronise multiple cameras via its Virb Edit software.

The Garmin X goes on sale at US$299.99/£239, while the XE will cost US$399.99/£TBC.