Garmin's New Wearable Cameras (Yes, One Has GPS)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Remember when portable global positioning service devices were big technology news? That's when Garmin ( GRMN) was king. Today, many cars, digital cameras and especially most smartphones offer built-in GPS satellite navigation. The company's attempt at combining GPS and smartphones was a bust. (Remember the iQue or the Asus Nuvifone?). So now, Garmin is shifting gears.

The Olathe, Kansas-based company on Tuesday announced VIRB -- a line of wearable "action cameras." The devices are meant to take-on Woodman Labs' GoPro video cameras, which were immortalized in a series of action-packed TV commercials boldly showing what action cameras can do.

Garmin shares were down 0.11% to $38.03 early Tuesday in New York.

Action cameras are designed to be mounted on your body (as a helmet cam, shoulder cam, wrist cam) or on snow skis, water skis, surfboards or skate boards) to capture what you see as you experience it.

The VIRB is a full HD, 1080p video camera inside a ruggedized and waterproof (up to 30 minutes) shell. It has a 1.4-inch color display, digital image stabilization, lens distortion correction (when you;re on the go) and promises great battery life. The device can also be remote controlled. Garmin claims as much as three hours on a full charge compared to GoPro's 2-1/4 power reserve.

In addition to video, VIRB can also capture 16-megapixel stills and output everything to your computer or TV screen via a micro-HDMI connection. VIRB uses microSD cards for storage. A 64-GB card is said to be good for up to seven hours of 1080p video.

Garmin also announced a second new model, the VIRB Elite, which adds special data sensors plus Wi-Fi and GPS (it IS Garmin) connectivity. The Elite will also come with a special mobile app to remotely control the camera. There is also a free desktop computer program for both models to upload and edit what you shot.

The VIRB is set to retail for $300. The VIRB Elite model will sell for $400. Both will be available next month.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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