Garmin is jumping into action cameras with the VIRB, a compact, well-engineered unit sure to begin showing up in cockpits immediately.
Garmin takes on market leader GoPro with a few features that its rival lacks: a battery that lasts up to three hours and a viewfinder. Since the VIRB isn’t stored in a protective housing, it shouldn’t be susceptible to the same fogging problems at altitude that sometimes afflict others.
The VIRB is waterproof, and it’s tough—but not indestructible.
I took a VIRB flying at speeds up to 200 mph, and its mount was rock solid.
I liked the VIRB’s form factor, ease of use, viewfinder, and mount. The camera is nearly foolproof to turn on and off—and you can play back videos on the spot to make sure the action was recorded. Also, VIRB videos don’t begin and end with the camera operator’s squinty-face that GoPro users know so well.
Garmin is going for mass-market appeal with the VIRB and hasn’t yet customized it for aviation use. There’s no filter to eliminate prop distortion, and no audio cables with headset jacks to record cockpit communications.
But as you’d expect from Garmin, the VIRB does have an internal GPS. Look for a full review of the VIRB in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot.