The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 takes high-quality images and is easy to control, it’s got great connectivity to your other on-bike tech and smartphones too. But its battery life is a bit short so you can’t just record and forget except on the shortest rides.
Voice control lets you start and stop recording easily while on the move
Quality 4k video
Good image stabilisation (at lower resolutions than 4k)
Lots of connectivity and stats options
Quite heavy – particularly mounted on a helmet
Short battery life
The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 will record ultra-high-definition video, with a maximum 4k/30fps, although you can drop to 1080p or lower for more memory capacity and battery life. It also includes image stabilisation (although not at 4k resolution) for less blur when you are out riding.
The standout feature of the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 is its voice control. This means that you just have to give voice commands to start and stop recording, take a still photo or highlight a video clip.
In practice I found that this worked OK when stationary and in quiet environments but not so well when moving, probably because wind and traffic noise stopped the camera from picking up commands accurately. You get buttons on the phone and on its case to let you control it manually too, though, and you can buy a separate remote control.
At the rear, there’s a 44.5mm colour touchscreen which lets you control other features. It’s small but bright enough that you can see what you’re shooting, play back recorded footage and use it to select menu options for camera set-up. The recorded footage is very crisp when downloaded to a computer or tablet.
Garmin builds in a GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter and compass so you can generate a ton of stats from the camera itself. It also has ANT+, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity so you can garner other data like heart rate and power by coupling external sensors.
Its connectivity also means that you can control and configure the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 using other Garmin devices or the mobile app. There’s the option to live stream footage from the camera by pairing it to your smartphone. The app also lets you make quick edits, share footage and overlay video with the stats you’ve captured, although you’ll need something more robust for more polished output.
The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 comes with a waterproof casing which will keep out water to 40 metres depth. To achieve this it’s slightly fiddly to open, so when you want to charge the unit or retrieve the SD card you need a bit of dexterity. But you can use the touchscreen to control the unit pretty effectively through the case.
Battery life is not the camera’s forte though, with less than a couple of hours at 1080p/30 and only just an hour at 4k/30, so you need to be judicious in deciding when to start and stop shooting: start it up on 4k when you leave home and you might just about have got out of the suburbs before the battery gives up.
In common with other Garmin devices, charging uses a Mini USB cable rather than the more common Micro USB, so you need to carry the cable with you to make sure you can recharge when away from home.
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