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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The new Virb XE is one of the highest-quality action cameras presently on the market. The footage shot at 1080p at 60fps can hold its own against any of the GoPro models, with sharp detail, well saturated colour and smooth motion. However, with GoPro and TomTom offering 4K, high frame rates and the Bandit having the unique auto edit features, Garmin needs to keep support and software upgrades for the desktop and mobile app coming to retain its position in the market.

We liked

Outstanding build and video quality. Reservations over the change in design were quickly resolved in use because the change from bullet to box makes it easier to mount. The addition of a traditional style shutter butter and single lever operation make the Virb XE exceptionally easy to use and the fact that it is now waterproof without the need for an additional case is an added bonus. The GPS and motion capture are really this camera's unique selling point and being able to see the speed and G-Force achieved whilst out on a ride adds an extra element of entertainment to videos afterwards.

We disliked

Proprietary cables are a pain as they're all too easily lost or forgotten. The app and software feel a little dated and don't take full advantage of the data captured by the camera. While the camera and video quality is superb, the software side of the Virb XE really needs to improve if it's to retain its position in the top ten action cameras list.

Garmin Virb XE

Final verdict

The Virb XE will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts who want to capture the action and check out speed and other related data. Integration with other Garmin devices such as heart monitors takes a while to setup but once done the added information is of real interest.

Video quality surpasses that of many other action cameras and the one-lever operation is a real winner, especially if you're involved with an activity where you're wearing gloves and the traditional push button on/off setup is difficult to operate.

The XE is a solid performer and you won't be disappointed with the quality. Video resolution and frame rate options are limited, though, and very soon these will seem dated. The software looks nice and is functional but leaves you with the feeling that this camera has far more to offer than either the mobile app or software allow.

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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.