Garmin’s Virb Elite action camera now integrates with the Garmin Pilot iPad/iPhone app, which can not only control the camera but also displays a live view of the video being recorded by the camera. The integration with Garmin Pilot (version 6.0 or later) is available only with the Virb Elite, not with the regular Virb.
The Virb Elite, which retails for $399, and regular Virb ($299) were introduced last August and demonstrate that Garmin designers did their homework, taking lessons learned from other action cams and applying them to the new products. The Virb cameras are housed in a rugged, waterproof case that meets IPX-7 standards (one meter for up to 30 minutes), useful for skiing or watersports. A dive case is available for shooting underwater. A 1.4-inch color display on the top of the unit makes it easy to see live-view video or photos, and the display’s Chroma reflective technology delivers a clear view even in bright sunlight. It also consumes little power, so the Virb’s 2,000 mAh battery can power the device for up to three hours.
The Elite includes a GPS receiver, altimeter, accelerometer and built-in Wi-Fi for communicating with an iPad or iPhone running Garmin Pilot. Other Garmin devices with ANT+ connectivity can also remotely control both Virb cameras.
Controlling the Virb Elite with Garmin Pilot makes shooting videos and still photos much easier, because the live view on the iPad or iPhone makes it unnecessary to try to see what’s playing on the Virb’s own screen. During a flight with the Virb Elite, I was easily able to control the camera using Garmin Pilot and see exactly what was on the camera, no matter where I had the Virb positioned. The Virb imagery is displayed on a split window in Garmin Pilot.
The Virb can record up to three hours of 1080P video on a charge, and it uses microSD cards holding up to 64 GB (up to seven hours of 1080P video). Still photos can be taken at 16 megapixels while shooting video. Changing settings on the camera, including three levels of zoom, is easy using either the camera’s own controls or Garmin Pilot. The Virb also has built-in image stabilization and lens distortion correction.