In terms of cycling GPS computers, the Garmin Edge 1030 is unashamedly large at 114 mm long and 58 mm wide. That space is well utilised with a huge 3.5-inch colour touchscreen which serves as the input for most of the device's functions. There are three physical buttons: the power button on the left side with the start/stop button and lap button on the bottom edge on either side of the USB port.
The Edge 1030’s high-resolution screen (in GPS terms) is excellent. The text is clear and the finer details on graphics are crisp. Visibility remains good in various conditions with no undesirable glare in harsher light. Probably an unfair comparison but the colours are noticeably weaker than on a smartphone. Garmin does make good use of the colour to create an intuitive and friendly user experience.
Not all touchscreens are created equal. After having some trouble operating the Edge 820, I was pleased to see that Garmin had improved the experience on the Edge 1030. The screen was generally responsive. It handled full finger gloves well enough, only on the odd occasion requiring a double tap or swipe.
The touchscreen facilitates a dashboard-like home page where you can swipe to select your activity profile (the defaults are road, mountain, or trainer) and access the navigation, training options, activity history, and device settings.
The Edge 1030 supports the Connect IQ store which means that you can download third-party apps. The Edge 1030 arrives with TrainingPeaks, Strava, and Best Bike Split pre-installed.
The new Strava app was the only one of the three that I used. It allowed you to select past activities and create a navigable route with turn-by-turn instructions and facilitates Live Segments. On the Edge 1030’s big screen, Live Segments is particularly engaging as you battle your friends’ or the KOM holder’s time.
Physical dimensions: 58 x 114 x 19 mm
Weight: 123 g
Water rating: IPX7
Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
Display size: 88.9 mm diagonal
Display resolution: 282 x 470 pixels
Battery life: up to 20 hours
Getting started with the Garmin Edge 1030 requires a quick setup process. This is conducted through the Garmin mobile app and your smartphone. Rather annoyingly, the Edge 1030 treated my phone much like an EFF member in parliament: refusing to recognise it. Thankfully, it made no fuss using a colleagues phone and I was soon through the fairly simple setup process. However, with my colleagues Garmin Connect account linked to the device. Rather frustratingly, and in my case where my phone was not pairing, the setup cannot be conducted via a wifi connection over the internet.
With phone incompatibility issues aside, the setup process is simple to follow and if you already have a Garmin Connect profile, much of that data is seamlessly downloaded to the new device ready for you to go on your first ride.
The Edge 1030 uses the familiar quarter-turn mounting system. We received a standalone demo device for testing. Garmin did send the extended out front mount for the Edge 1030. The mount sits flush with the handlebars and makes provision for the extended battery pack to be mounted on the underside. I elected, however, to use the O-ring mounts on my stem (road bike) and handlebar (mountain bike).
On my road bike, the Edge 1030 fit snugly on my 110 mm stem. For shorter cockpits, the out-front mount would probably be better suited. On the mountain bike, it mounted securely on the handlebars but it did feel a bit large for that position and I feel that the out front mount would be better suited (although that does put the device in a dangerous position in a crash). The Edge 1030 is equipped with a lanyard for peace of mind on those occasions that the device does come unstuck.
The Edge 1030 supports Wi-Fi, ANT+, and Bluetooth connections. I only had the opportunity to test the device with Garmin ANT+ sensors, which all worked flawlessly. I like uploading my activities over wireless when I get home, so the inclusion of that is a one up on my own Edge 520. While Bluetooth can be used for connectivity with compatible sensors, I only used it to communicate with the Garmin Connect App on a smartphone.
The Edge 1030 supports Garmin’s GroupTrack and LiveTrack features through the Garmin Mobile App. These allow you to broadcast tracking of yourself as well as receive information about your friends on route. On top of this, the Edge 1030 has a number of preset messages that you can send to your friends who also use an Edge 1030. Helpful if you’re running a bit late. However, I clearly have the wrong friends, as I found no one with an Edge 1030 to exchange messages with.
Connecting to your smartphone with the Garmin Mobile App will also allow you to received notifications of phone calls and other messages.
The navigational ability of the Edge 1030 is the killer feature on this device. It comes loaded with proper maps which are rich in information allowing you to search for specific locations and points of interest. Thanks to the detailed base maps, you can achieve turn by turn navigation through most route building options including the new ability to simply pull an activity from Strava. The navigation experience reminds me of a standalone Garmin GPS.
Garmin has done a number of things to enhance the experience for cyclists. For instance, when creating a route on the Edge 1030, it references the mountains of data from other riders' activities on Garmin Connect to recommend routes that are frequented by cyclists.
I tested the navigation function using a previous Strava activity which I recorded using the Giant NeosTrack. This did not phase the Edge 1030 as it quickly converted the activity into a course and set me off with clear turn-by-turn directions throughout the route.
The colour navigation creates a good contrast that many black and white screens lack. On the large screen, the route ahead was clearly defined and the turns easily understood. The view can be easily zoomed into a level of detail that will dispel any doubt about which way it is you’re supposed to be heading.
Garmin still lead the pack when it comes to navigation and the Edge 1030 is the king of the castle.
The Edge 1030 lasted well over 12 hours of testing, which included a lot of tinkering and some navigation. Unfortunately, I did not have the device long enough to properly assess the real-world lifespan or check the claimed 22-hour battery life.
In the end
The Garmin Edge 1030 hits all the right notes as a flagship device from the biggest name in cycling computers. The feature filled device manages to remain intuitive to use, performing its core functions with ease, while offering advanced functions for more thorough users. The real reason to get an Edge 1030 over the other cycling computers is the comprehensive navigational abilities.