Review: Garmin Edge 820

Garmin launched their Edge 820 GPS bike computer a little over a year ago to bolster their Edge range of cycling devices.

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The Edge 820 rolled out of the gate with several new features including some previously only found on its bigger brother, the Edge 1000. All of this in a compact size and controlled by a touch screen.

 

Highlight Features

  • Lightweight and compact with 2.3-inch high-resolution, capacitive touch display
  • GroupTrack feature keeps tabs on everyone in your riding pack
  • Advanced performance monitoring includes VO2 max, recovery advisor, Strava live segments, FTP, performance condition and advanced cycling dynamics
  • Built-in incident detection included; compatible with cycling awareness accessories such as Varia Vision, Varia smart bike lights and rear view radar
  • Bike-specific navigation preloaded with Garmin Cycle Map for turn-by-turn navigation
Edge 820 Device Only
  • Edge 820
  • Mounts (standard on bar and extended out-front)
  • USB cable
  • Tether
  • Manuals
The Bundle retails for R 8,899.00 and includes:
  • Premium heart rate monitor
  • Cadence sensor
  • Speed sensor
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Battery Life


Battery life is quoted as 15 hours. This can only be achieved by using all of the many battery saving functions turned on, which include:
  • Turning on Battery Save Mode
  • Decreasing the backlight brightness or shortening the backlight timeout
  • Selecting the smart recording interval which records key points (e.g. where you change direction, speed, or heart rate). For comparison, the 1 Second option records points every second. It creates a very detailed record of your activity and increases the size of the stored activity file.
  • Turn on the Auto Sleep feature
  • Turn off the Bluetooth wireless feature
  • Select the GPS only setting. Using GPS+GLONASS reduces battery life quicker than using only GPS.
Conservative use should get you 8-10 hours of battery life with heavy use including navigation will see that drop to 4-5 hours. Fortunately, when the battery runs low, the 820 will automatically switch to power saving mode which will turn off the display, but at least continue recording data.

 

Connect IQ Store


For those not familiar with Garmin, the Connect IQ is their online store where you can download apps and widgets to customise your Garmin device. Everything is free and one can find anything from a GU Fuel Reminder to a widget that will tell you how much daylight is left or a Training Peaks app that syncs your training plan with your device.

 

Quite a few apps/ widgets simply stylise the available information into a graph or colored data field, but this can help to get the most vital information across, especially when all you have time for is a quick glance at the screen.

 

Getting Started


 

On the Bike


The Garmin Edge 820 bundle comes with Garmin's magnetless speed and cadence sensors as well as their premium heart rate monitor strap. These need to be fitted before your first ride but is thankfully an easy task that will only take a minute or two.

 

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Before you head off on your first ride these and/or other smart devices (like a Quarq power meter in my case) must be paired with the head unit. This is a relatively easy and quick task as the Edge 820 does well to identify any devices within range. Once paired, you won't have to do it again and I'm happy to report it works exactly as advertised. Once set up, it really is a case of switching the head unit on, selecting your ride or training mode, and heading off into the distance.

 

There is the same level of ease and convenience transferring data after your ride. The Edge 820 can be configured to automatically uploads to Garmin Connect and other cloud services when your head unit connects to your phone or WiFi network. Looking back at recorded activities, it was great to see that the Edge 820 does a remarkably solid job of staying connected and recording all data received from the sensors.

 

The device includes accident detection which sends out an alert to a preset contact when it detects that you have had a crash. The Edge 820 uses information from accelerometers and GPS to determine whether there has been an incident. Once activated, it gives you a 30-second timer to cancel the warning before sending a message out in order for you to avoid falls alarms and moments of panic at home.

 

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Another nifty feature is Group Track which allows you and shared contacts to follow, and potentially join, rides by tracking them real time as they or you ride along. For it to work, your friends need to have a LiveTrack-compatible Edge computer (Edge 520, Edge 820 Edge 1000) paired to their smartphone with the Garmin Connect app on, paired and running LiveTrack.

 

If you're that way inclined, you can choose to see incoming texts and calls notifications on the screen during a ride, but I had this switched off from day one. Post ride information includes Recovery Advisor, Stress Score, personal records, and information on your VO2 Max and FTP.

 

If you're that way inclined, you can choose to see incoming texts and calls notifications on the screen during a ride, but I had this switched off from day one. Post ride information includes Recovery Advisor, Stress Score, personal records, and information on your VO2 Max and FTP.

 

The biggest letdown is the touchscreen. I've found the screen large enough and easy to read in all conditions, but the touch side of it is not what one would expect. Regardless of whether it is wet or dry, you have gloves on or not, it is just simply not responsive enough and very inconsistent, working sometimes while at other times it takes several swipes or pushes to get the screen to respond. This is quite frustrating and distracting when trying to to get to another screen mid-ride.

 

Strava


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The Edge 820 is Strava Live Segments enabled. It involves an initial setup process which includes starring segments on your planned ride or by working your way through previous workouts on Strava and starring the segments that you are keen to tackle or keep an eye on.

 

I used this feature to track progress (and maybe feed the competitive monkey on my shoulder) and add instant goals, but found it frustrating that once a segment has started the device automatically flips to a Segment screen. In the run up to this, there is a time/distance countdown until the start of the segment which gives you time to get your head in the game. I quite like those, but would prefer for them to be overlaid at the bottom of my current data screen and not take me to a new screen that I have no real interest in keeping an eye on - especially on longer segments or on rides where PB's are at the very back of my mind.

 

Adding to the annoyance is the fact that the screen can be quite frustrating when trying to swipe back to my "default" data screen.

 

Other than that, the feature works great and as long as you can stay focused during a structured training ride, having segment notifications to aim for is a nice to have in my books.

 

Navigation


The Edge 820 offers several options to start from to make things a little bit easier. Courses, Addresses, Search Tools (POI's, Cities, etc) Saved Locations, and Recent Finds. Using a device for routing is something I hardly ever use, so I found it easiest to plot a route on Garmin Connect and copying it over rather than doing things from scratch on the unit itself - partly due to the somewhat frustrating touch screen.

 

Navigation was spot on in terms of directions, but I did find the prompts to be on the slow side, as I'd quite often pass a road I was meant to turn into as the GPS still showed 10 meters to go. In suburbs, where roads can follow each other quite quickly, this can be a bit confusing if you are not familiar with the area. Testing this a bit more, I found that the prompt was a bit on the slow side rather than wrong. In other words, going a bit slower gave it time to catch up with where I was and would then be accurate.

 


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Testing the navigation on a circuit also showed that it was very accurate with the "10 meters to turn" prompt popping up at more or less the same marker on each lap.

 

The mapping is good, but not near what we've become used to using apps like Waze or Google Maps and the additional information (like live traffic updates) they offer. Fortunately, the turn-by-turn navigation includes street names meaning you can also look out for those if the traffic and your riding allow. Navigation can be on in the background with prompts popping up at the bottom of your current data screen meaning you can use your normal data screens and still enjoy turn-by-turn navigation.

 

While navigating you will lose live Strava notifications although the feature will still run in the background to keep track of your segment times.

 

The competition


Wahoo's Elemnt range of devices are breathing down Garmin's neck. Their use of good old fashion buttons makes them easy to navigate, the menus are well laid out and intuitive to use, the devices are easy to setup and pair, and they come with all the modern day features one would expect with the only real drawback being the lack of Discovery Health integration and associated rewards.

 

Verdict


The Garmin Edge 820 continues Garmin's tradition of quality training devices, with the touch screen the only real chink in its armour. Unfortunately, this is a big part of the user experience and the frustration that goes with it distracts from the overall user experience. If they can sort that out, they will have a real winner on their hands as most of my gripes (e.g. auto change to segment screen) could be user preference or are fairly minor issues (e.g. navigation being a bit slow).

 

 




16 Comments

Allan van Heerden, Aug 29 2017 08:18

You list the "Discovery Health integration" as a "pro" but do not mention it anywhere else in the review.

 

Where can I find further information on this?

Iwan Kemp, Aug 29 2017 08:33

You list the "Discovery Health integration" as a "pro" but do not mention it anywhere else in the review.

 

Where can I find further information on this?

 

Hi Allan,

As part of Discovery's Vitality Health benefits and rewards you can get points for training with your Garmin device. This can result in weekly rewards (from Vida E or Kauai) and a jump in Status (Blue, Bronze, Silver, Gold) which will bring bigger discounts at their partners.

 

That in short with a bit more info HERE

Pieterlab1, Aug 29 2017 08:50

Do you have to fit the speed sensor? Is it not capable of measuring your speed via gps?

Thinking of upgrading from my Polar V650 to the Edge 820.

semisub, Aug 29 2017 09:48

No, you don't need the speed sensor. It will automatically measure your speed via GPS. Not sure how accurate that is. 

semisub, Aug 29 2017 09:56

I have had an 820 since February this year and initially experienced some software issue (the device froze and I had to get the software reloaded each time) but I have upgraded to the latest version of SW and it has been stable for the last 4 months. It automatically syncs with Garmin Connect after each ride via BT and uploads to Strava and Discovery. 

Allan van Heerden, Aug 29 2017 12:53

Hi Allan,

As part of Discovery's Vitality Health benefits and rewards you can get points for training with your Garmin device. This can result in weekly rewards (from Vida E or Kauai) and a jump in Status (Blue, Bronze, Silver, Gold) which will bring bigger discounts at their partners.

 

That in short with a bit more info HERE

Thanks for your response. Sorry, I understood that it was an Edge 820 specific feature opposed to a generic Garmin function

FCH, Aug 29 2017 01:03

any time line on reviewing the Giant Neo?

 

at a 1/4 of the price and X3 battery life, with basically the exact same features.....

The Commuter, Aug 29 2017 01:50

I get calls and SMS's on my Edge 820, but not What's Ups.  What is the story here, or am I missing something with my setup?

Mongoose!, Aug 29 2017 03:25

I get calls and SMS's on my Edge 820, but not What's Ups.  What is the story here, or am I missing something with my setup?

 

No Whatsapp while riding is actually a plus point :ph34r:

Headshot, Aug 30 2017 11:47

any time line on reviewing the Giant Neo?

 

at a 1/4 of the price and X3 battery life, with basically the exact same features.....

When my cracked Polar 650 packs up, that will be my next bike device. Discovery can get lost. Pricing on Garmin is redonculous. Maybe you pay upfront for the discounted unit they offer you when the screen breaks ...

Pierre_1608, Mar 07 2018 05:29

My screen cracked after a bad fall, unit is 100% functional. What is the process to replace the screen? Bought it from Cape Union Mart.

Iwan Kemp, Mar 07 2018 08:24

My screen cracked after a bad fall, unit is 100% functional. What is the process to replace the screen? Bought it from Cape Union Mart.

 

Hi Pierre,

 

Welcome to Bike Hub. You can take the unit to Garmin's offices, they have a repair centre there

 

https://support.garmin.com/en-ZA/

 

 The Mall Offices 
  Office 802 - 8th Floor 
  11 Cradock Avenue
  Rosebank, Johannesburg 
  2196 
 
  Phone: +27 11 251 9999 
  Fax: +27 011 251 9799
  e-mail: info@garmin.co.za

Pierre_1608, Mar 13 2018 05:16

Thanks. When I bought the unit I was told that any Navworld will be able to service the unit for example screen repairs, new battery, etc. Now that I have the unit, the only place that are able to do repairs is head office in Rosebank, and they are open during office hours. It is impossible for me to get there during office hours. When I phoned them after they did not reply to my emails, they told me they will offer me a replacement unit based on the condition of my unit. Then they told me that they will destroy my unit in an environmentally friendly manner. I asked them for an estimate. The consultant told me that it would not be more than 50% of a new unit (according to them it is R9000, but from easybike the price is R6500). I asked for a better estimate but they could not give that. I also told them what does the condition of the unit matter if they are going to destroy it anyway. The consultant could not answer me on that. I told him that I can buy a replacement screen via Aliexpress: https://www.aliexpre...iceBeautifyAB=0

for 41$

He wished me good luck and tried to hold me to ransom by saying if I do that the unit might not work, will loose its guarantee, etc. 

Garmin is clearly trying to create a Monopoly by using 1 service center, charge ridiculous prices for repairs and use your unit probably for other repairs. I do not buy the nonsense of destroying the unit. 

I am regretting it that I bought a Garmin product, and will probably never buy any Garmin product again, and will advertise to everyone I know not to buy a Garmin product. If this is your attitude, your business will not succeed. The reason for buying a Garmin costing more than your competitors was because of backup service. Now there is no reason to justify the prices of your products because of your lack of backup service.

Pierre_1608, Apr 11 2018 05:52

Was quoted R2280 for the screen repair. Paid it, was told the unit will be replaced within 48 hours. Phoned Garmin today after 96 hours, they could not even tell me the status of my unit. Garmin product support is simply just non existent! Rather buy something else a lot cheaper that also have no product support.

Lapierre, Jun 04 2018 11:35

My Garmin packed up ( again ) Previously dealt with Nav World - superefficient.
Garmin JHB - what a let down -shocking customer support.

jimmysquirrel, Oct 14 2018 09:54

Was quoted R2280 for the screen repair. Paid it, was told the unit will be replaced within 48 hours. Phoned Garmin today after 96 hours, they could not even tell me the status of my unit. Garmin product support is simply just non existent! Rather buy something else a lot cheaper that also have no product support.

Hi Pierre.How long did they take to repair it? Seems very pricey for a screen replacement.