Garmin Launches New VIRB Ultra 30 Action Camera

Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 action camera

The tech world may be looking at IFA for mobile-phone and computer news this week, but Garmin has given outdoors lovers some compelling news too. Garmin announced Wednesday that its VIRB Ultra 30 action camera is now available for purchase on Amazon only. It’s not immediately clear whether Garmin plans to make its new cameras available at retail.

At $500, the VIRB Ultra 30 isn’t an inexpensive piece of kit. But with all the bells and whistles it includes, it may very well be worth the investment. If you’re really into documenting your adventures with advanced video features, that is.

The VIRB Ultra 30 is waterproof up to 40 meters when in its protective case. Garmin says the camera’s color LCD touchscreen is fully functional through that case as well. The action camera shoots 4K HD footage at 30fps, and a bevy of sensors and GPS allow it to gather data about how far, high and fast users were going while filming.

Those are impressive features, but three others may be more exciting.

First is a voice-control mechanism that lets users start/stop recording, snap a photo or tell their VIRB Ultra 30 to “remember that” just by speaking. This has nice implications for outdoorists, as your fingers aren’t always available to press a button while adventuring. Second is the ability to do one-touch live streaming to YouTube, though it presumably supports Periscope and Facebook Live as well (those weren’t specified in the announcement).

Third, and perhaps most useful, the VIRB Ultra 30 has built-in three-axis image stabilization that keeps your footage from resembling something shot on a shaky early-1990s Handycam. Here’s a promotional video Garmin released to showcase these features.

One of the things I’m personally intrigued by is Garmin’s decision to point-out the audio quality. Many action cameras do a poor job capturing audio, especially through a waterproof case. The fact that Garmin specifically calls attention to its sensitive microphone has me a bit giddy. Here’s hoping I have the opportunity to test that audio for myself.

Garmin also released a VIRB app that lets smartphones or tablets become WiFi remotes for the VIRB Ultra 30. Meanwhile, “VIRB Edit” software lets users create videos of their best moments using preloaded music and animated G-Metrix data gauges that show off all that distance/speed data they captured with the camera.

Garmin’s VIRB Ultra 30 is the company’s third action camera in the VIRB line. The first two, the VIRB X and VIRB XE, are available for $300 and $400, respectively. Both of those models are available to purchase on Garmin’s website, so Amazon’s exclusivity for the VIRB Ultra 30 may be temporary.

Jonas Allen

Jonas spent 17 years covering travel, technology and entertainment for regional and international media. He now writes about gear, clothes and tips to stay warm. He hopes his lessons will help other people who get cold (re)discover the great outdoors.

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