Gear Talk: Garmim VIRB Elite vs GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition

  Being a bit of a gadget junky, I thought it would be fitting to put up a review of my newest toy. In short, I’m replacing the GoPro with the new Garmin VIRB. The first negative mark for the GoPro started last year. They released the Hero 3 in late 2012 and Betty had purchased one for me in June of 2013. By October, GoPro released the 3+ which had significant updates… So of course, I went back and swapped my 3 for a 3+. The 3+ did fix a bunch of known issues with the GoPro’s like freezing, poor battery life (though not significantly better) and added a few features such as 4K video and a slimmer body.

gopro 3 vs virb (from dcrainmaker)
GoPro 3 vs VIRB – from dcrainmaker

  Fast forward to the VIRB – I had been reluctantly waiting for this since I heard about it. It’s definitely bulkier than the GoPro, but it has some advantages. Specifically for cycling, the lengthwise clip on position makes it more aerodynamic and easier to fit than a brick. (See Image below from bikerumor.com)

K-Edge mount

So far, it’s been great and the VIRB Edit software has been a breeze to work on for editing and overlaying stats. I did have a small issue with the timing of the stats vs the video, but that’s easily edited as well. It’s also worth mentioning that the battery life is quite a bit better than the GoPro. For example, the GoPro 3+ Black could only do about 1:15 worth of video before crapping out, while I did over 1.5 hours on the VIRB with over 25% battery life left. That’s a significant difference. Also, recording is surefire since you slide the big switch on the side to set it to record.

VIRB
For those who are too lazy to watch the video, here’s a screencap

What’s the verdict? For my uses, I’m definitely keeping the VIRB. The heavier camera is a disadvantage, but there are many areas in which the VIRB excels over the GoPro for my uses. The main functions beingbuilt-in GPS, ANT+ and WiFi connectivity, the slide to record button, build-in viewfinder, better battery life and the VIRB edit software. The VIRB edit software takes all the GPS data and ANT+ devices connected to my bike like heart-rate, cadence and power and automatically processes that data into customized fields. It really all comes down to simplicity. I can turn on the camera, get all the data that I want in that same unit and process it simply. Now if only YouTube didn’t take 3 hours to upload an hour video…

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom says:

    Great review – making the switch myself for fishing. Will be interesting to see the differences. One thing to note about your review – I can upload a 1 hour YouTube video in about 19 minutes. The problem may not be YouTube, but either your ISP speed or the video format you are exporting to. Check into that.

    1. wongdood says:

      Thanks! It probably was the isp as subsequent upload at different hours have been much faster.

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