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Garmin's First 4K Action Camera Takes on GoPro

Garmin has unveiled its first-ever 4K action camera, the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30, with live streaming, voice control and image stabilization, now available on Amazon for $499.99.

It's a step up from its older Garmin Virb XE Action Cam, which maxed out at 1080p video, but costs $100 more than its predecessor.

Photo Credit: Garmin

(Image credit: Photo Credit: Garmin)

The camera's sensors and GPS help it track location, distance traveled, and speed, which we'd expect from Garmin products, but it adds an LCD color touch screen that can be operated through its waterproof housing and voice control that allows users to tell the camera when to start and stop recording.

Image stabilization works on three axes, and live streaming can be activated with one touch, according to the company. The waterproof housing, which protects the camera in water up to 40 meters deep, comes free with the camera.

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In addition to recording 4K video in real time, the camera can shoot slow-motion video and 4MP still photos, and has a micro SD card slot to help you store it all. The camera also has a high-sensitivity microphone to pick up audio even through its waterproof housing, a problem we found with its likely competitor, the similarly-priced GoPro Hero4 Black 4K action camera. 

The VIRB Ultra 30 has another advantage over the GoPro in that the Hero4 Black doesn't have a touch screen. And while the lower-priced GoPro Hero4 Silver does have a touch screen, it only records 4K at 15 frames per second vs. 30 frames per second for Garmin's new camera.

Like GoPro, Garmin allows its users to operate their cameras via mobile app and offers its own video editing tools.

With all of the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30's capabilities, it looks like GoPro might have to up its game to stay on top of the action camera market.

Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.