Garmin Virb XE review

Garmin's GPS enabled action camera has evolved to capture every nuance of those blood pumping moments

Garmin Virb XE

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Garmin's unique selling point is the GPS, and when the original Virb was released it was the only company on the market with this feature. However, with the arrival of the TomTom Bandit, Garmin now really has to up its game if it wants to stand out as a viable GoPro alternative. There's a good selection of sensors including GPS and a gyroscope and the data from these is processed through Garmin's G-Matrix technology to show speed and G-Force in animated overlays when viewing data back through the desktop software. One sensor that makes a departure however is the altimeter, this was a feature of the original Virb Elite.

Information that is captured in camera can then be displayed in the footage when editing using the Virb Edit software. This is available for both Mac and PC users and is relatively easy to use both when editing and exporting your footage. Unfortunately, at present there are no auto edit features in this software which, with the amount of data that's captured during the recording, seems a real shame.

The software does have some great features and will enable you to overlay the GPS and sensor data quickly with a good selection of pre designed overlays. However the edit features really are limited. For example, if you film continuously without stopping or starting the recording but adjust the position or angle of the camera, there is no way to simply rotate part of that footage. Instead, you must split the clip that you want out from the rest of the footage, export and then re-import.

Garmin Virb XE

Garmin Virb XE

The flat lens on the case makes it easy to keep clean, the design details on the other hand are perfect for capturing flying mud.

The app is functional and like the desktop software works well enough but has none of the additional features or fineness that we're starting to expect. The live view stream is of a good quality but does suffer from lag and is noticeably slower when compared with the connection speed and reliability of the TomTom and GoPro cameras.

When it comes to reviewing footage through the iOS app on an iPhone 6 the video playback is a little slow and there are no built in features to edit – instead, footage must be download and then edited in your app of choice.

At present, every action camera needs a must-have feature to make it stand out. Some, like the shake to edit feature of the TomTom or 4K video at 30fps on the GoPro Hero4 Black are obvious, but Garmin has my personal top-ranking feature – it enables you to locate your camera when you lose it, or at least shows you the last known GPS location. This location is shown on a map through the mobile app, so if a mount does fail and your Virb drops to the ground without you noticing, then you have at least some chance of relocating it.

Imaging Lab Manager

Ali Jennings is the imaging lab manager for Future Publishing's Photography portfolio. Using Imatest Master and DxO Analyser he produces the image quality tests for all new cameras and lenses review in TechRadar's cameras channel. Ali has been shooting digital since the early nineties and joined Future's Photography portfolio back in 2003.