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Garmin's new flagship GPS is in… we've been tinkering with it

by Dave Atkinson   February 4, 2013  

Everyone loves a shiny new toy, right? Certainly we've been looking forward to having a go on Garmin's new Edge 810 GPS unit. It promises to be a step up from the previous range-topper, the Edge 800, with Bluetooth connectivity for live tracking, instant uploading, weather updates and more.

So, what's new? Well, the standout feature is the Bluetooth. There's a Garmin Connect app available for both iPhone and Android, and you can pair your 810 with your phone.

And why would you want to do that? Well, there's a few reasons. Firstly, the smartphone connection means that you only ever have to plug your Edge in when the battery needs charging. Logging rides on Garmin Connect happens automatically; as soon as you save a ride it gets pushed over to the portal. If you've beaten any of your presonal records, it'll let you know straight away. On the iPhone app you can drag stuff the other way too: courses created on the Garmin Connect website can be loaded into the unit. That functionality isn't there on the Android app yet, but it's coming.

And it's pretty straightforward to set up too. Here's a vid we made showing the connection process straight out of the box.

You can use that constant data connection for other stuff too. If your other half worries about you on long rides, or you're doing a charity event or sportive and you want people to see how you're getting on, you can turn on live tracking. You can invite people (via email, or post on facebook or twitter) to your live event and they can watch you flying round the course in real time. Obviously the tracking is still dependent on your having a phone signal, so it you've venturing into the less-covered areas of the UK then updates might be a bit patchy.

Another thing that gets piped in via the data feed is live weather updates. Press the power button once and you can get three hours' worth of local forecasts and any pertinent weather warnings nearby.

Obviously all the things that were good about the Edge 800 are still there on the 810. It's fully map capable: ours came bundled with Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 mapping of the whole country, which means you get great maps for on- and off-road riding. If you're only riding on the road there's a bundle with city maps and European road maps too. The Edge 810 can give you turn-by-turn directions on any course that you upload and follow on the device.

There's five customisable data screens; out of the box you can set the Edge 810 to race or train mode and have different setups for both, and you can set up other profiles for different activity types with the relevant screens enabled. You can race against a virtual partner or race against yourself on a previously recorded activity, see your altitude profile, connect ANT+ sensors for heart rate, cadence, speed and power, set up profiles for each of your bikes… all sorts of stuff. Global Cycling Network have made this vid of the 810 and 510 which is worth a watch for a quick features rundown.

Physically the 810 has had a cosmetic update over the 800 but it's the same physical size,  with the same 160x240 pixel resistive LCD touch screen that'll work without you having to take your gloves off. That's not hi-res compared to smartphones these days, but the low power consumption of the screen is one of the things that keeps the battery life of the Edge 810 nice and healthy, and that's one of the major benefits over a smartphone; Garmin claim it'll run for 17 hours on one charge. It's rated as IPX7 water resistant so the lovely British weather shouldn't be an issue.

The 810 range starts at £379.99 for the basic unit with no maps included, and the all-inclusive Ultimate Performance pack (OS maps, City maps, European road maps, speed/cadence sensor and HRM) is £514.99. We got an OutFront mount with ours which puts the GPS in a very nice position just in front of the stem. Once we've given it a thorough going-over we'll be posting our review, so stay tuned...

http://sites.garmin.com/edge/

20 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

and it's bugs are being documented on the garmin forums !

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [707 posts]
4th February 2013 - 13:57

4 Likes

therevokid wrote:
and it's bugs are being documented on the garmin forums !

yup, keeping an eye on that too. not had any issues thus far with our test unit

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7365 posts]
4th February 2013 - 14:02

4 Likes

Connectivity overload!

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [552 posts]
4th February 2013 - 15:08

3 Likes

In my mind, £500 is the point at which a bicycle computer becomes "insanely expensive".

Your views may vary.

Cool

posted by BigDummy [287 posts]
4th February 2013 - 15:21

6 Likes

As I previously wrote in the preview forum, I think that nowadays this is largely overpriced. I have a 705 and really like it, but the interface, routing and file format management are full of bugs they never seriously try to fix.

That is the deal you'll get with Garmin: a full-of-bugs device, which they will never bother to fix, expecting the user to shell another pack of cash to buy the next device. Hardware is good, software is really lacking behind, and Garmin think that for £370 they can expect their users to be beta or even alpha testers.

For a lot less money, it would be better to buy a waterproof and ant+ Android phone, such as Xperia active, and use open-source software such as osmand+, my tracks, etc. Battery life, which is the big point of the Garmin (although was told the 810 was not great in that area) can be reduced by switching off the wireless/3g/etc, only keeping GPS.

posted by zeb [46 posts]
4th February 2013 - 15:36

5 Likes

In defence of Garmin, I have a Edge 500 and it's ace. One of the best bike toys I've bought. I decided against the 800 as I didn't really want a sat nav for the bike, when I'm wedded to one in the work car all week. Nor do I want it pinging every time I pass a segment or telling me about the weather or who's just texted me. Clip in, tune out...

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [552 posts]
4th February 2013 - 15:57

4 Likes

The fact that the battery life is better than a phone seems slightly moot when you're expected to have a phone tethered to it to make the clever stuff work Thinking

(I know that turning GPS off will help a phone last longer, but will smartphones manage 17 hours of live tracking updates?)

posted by David Portland [89 posts]
4th February 2013 - 17:02

5 Likes

Got the Garmin 200 (budget/entry level device). It's not the most advanced, but it records the data I want and does provide some (breadcrumb) navigation. It's never missed a beat, the battery life is ace and the interface (Garmin Connect) is good too.

mingmong's picture

posted by mingmong [194 posts]
4th February 2013 - 18:32

3 Likes

Can anyone tell me if they also have problems connecting their 800 to a Mac? I have no problems with a work PC, but it just disconnects the drive from the Mac the minute you try to do something useful with it.

It's a great device for mapping a route, and saves me loads of time if want to explore a new area. I guess the iPhone connectivity gets rid of the Mac problem.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1131 posts]
4th February 2013 - 18:45

4 Likes

just unboxed my new and already outdated 500 today, v. nice - thanks CRC january sale! I was tempted by the enhanced gadgetation and shininess of the newer #10 models but really the phone connectivity isn't all that useful as far as I can see.
Look fwd to your assessment of the 'outfront' mount although I prefer the look of the sram one.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [811 posts]
4th February 2013 - 18:57

4 Likes

No problems at all with my 800 and Mac OS X.

posted by pjay [225 posts]
4th February 2013 - 19:48

4 Likes

David Portland wrote:
The fact that the battery life is better than a phone seems slightly moot when you're expected to have a phone tethered to it to make the clever stuff work Thinking

(I know that turning GPS off will help a phone last longer, but will smartphones manage 17 hours of live tracking updates?)

mine certainly won't i'm guessing. be interesting to see how long it does last when you're not using the gps and screen though. so far my longest ride has only been a couple of hours. got some all-dayers coming up tho

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7365 posts]
4th February 2013 - 20:35

3 Likes

no problems with the 810 and os x thus far, btw

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7365 posts]
4th February 2013 - 20:36

2 Likes

What version of connect etc. are you running? Did you have a problems? I'm confounded by mine.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1131 posts]
4th February 2013 - 23:18

4 Likes

zeb wrote:
As I previously wrote in the preview forum, I think that nowadays this is largely overpriced. I have a 705 and really like it, but the interface, routing and file format management are full of bugs they never seriously try to fix.

That is the deal you'll get with Garmin: a full-of-bugs device, which they will never bother to fix, expecting the user to shell another pack of cash to buy the next device. Hardware is good, software is really lacking behind, and Garmin think that for £370 they can expect their users to be beta or even alpha testers.

For a lot less money, it would be better to buy a waterproof and ant+ Android phone, such as Xperia active, and use open-source software such as osmand+, my tracks, etc. Battery life, which is the big point of the Garmin (although was told the 810 was not great in that area) can be reduced by switching off the wireless/3g/etc, only keeping GPS.

Maybe it depends on your expectations, but I have had my Edge 800 for well over a year now with (almost) zero issues. Great bit of kit. The only issue I had was a faulty HR strap; excellent customer service when this happened and it was replaced free of charge.

posted by pwake [293 posts]
5th February 2013 - 4:20

4 Likes

joemmo wrote:
just unboxed my new and already outdated 500 today, v. nice - thanks CRC january sale! I was tempted by the enhanced gadgetation and shininess of the newer #10 models but really the phone connectivity isn't all that useful as far as I can see.
Look fwd to your assessment of the 'outfront' mount although I prefer the look of the sram one.

Got the Bar Fly mount for mine; good stuff, it puts the unit in a far, far more readable position.

posted by pwake [293 posts]
5th February 2013 - 4:23

3 Likes

Does connectivity apply to New BlackBerry?

Pepita rides again!

posted by pepita1 [177 posts]
5th February 2013 - 10:26

5 Likes

pepita1 wrote:
Does connectivity apply to New BlackBerry?

not yet. just iphone and android atm, and the android app isn't quite all there yet

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7365 posts]
5th February 2013 - 11:39

4 Likes

The out front mounts are indeed brilliant. Here's my mate Dave doing a video review of his:
http://www.scarletfire.co.uk/2012/10/the-k-edge-out-front-bar-mount-for-...

deadhead1971's picture

posted by deadhead1971 [24 posts]
5th February 2013 - 20:41

2 Likes

Love gadgets. Mainly love Garmin gadgets. But they have this badly wrong. Reason to upgrade from generally robust, feature-packed 800? A much better display. Nope. There isn't one of those.

Reason to upgrade - get the weather. Stupid idea. I know the weather, I'm on my bike. No forecast, taken from a distant station, is gonna be of the slightest use.

Be connected? Ill thought-through bollox. And anyway if you really want this, use your phone and a free or cheap app. There are tons. Or tonnes.

Wireless sync? Well, fine. But to Garmin Connect. Which is shit.

There is no low energy BlueTooth which is baffling and forces another upgrade 12 months later. And it is very expensive.

Not Garmin's finest hour.

posted by RouleurTwo [21 posts]
5th February 2013 - 21:48

2 Likes