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Garmin Edge 820 first ride review

21 Sep 2016

The Garmin Edge 820 takes most of the functions of the Edge 1000, and crams them into the body of a 520. But does it add up?

Moore’s law of semiconductors is roughly translated for the common person, as ‘every two years computers will either double in power, halve in size or halve in price’. You could say something similar about Garmin units, except maybe the price bit – they’re still as expensive as ever. So what exactly has changed?

Well the Edge 820 is smaller for a start – quite a bit smaller than the 810 model it replaces. Most of the bulk is gone in the length, with the width and depth staying quite similar, which makes it about 30% smaller than the Edge 1000. The screen is smaller than the 810 but the resolution has increased considerably, enabling a similar amount of information to be presented while staying legible.

Most other changes are small: new batteries here and new processors there, with incremental gains in functional speed and a longer battery life. The one big new feature is ‘GroupTrack’, which enables you to see live information on a map about the current location of your riding buddies. 

On the road

Garmin Edge 820

It seems everyone except me loves things to be smaller, but I’ve been using an Edge 1000 for so long now that the 820 seems tiny in comparison. Unless you’ve got the eyesight of a hawk, I’d say you really max out at six data items on one page. The same goes for the maps – out in the countryside, where roads are few and far between, the maps are great but in central London it’s a little too small to make out what’s going on at times. You can change the level of detail though, so I’m going to experiment a little to see if it can be improved.

The rest of the hardware and software changes have all brought improvements: the battery life seems better than ever, the routing is fast, the Bluetooth connection is easier and more stable, and the 820 gets a GPS fix in the time it takes to lock the front door.

At the moment I’ve not had the opportunity to try the GroupTrack feature as I’ve yet to ride with someone with a compatible device, but I’ll report back as soon as I have.

With the little time I’ve spent riding with the new Edge 820, it’s so far so good. Is it worth upgrading your 810? Hard to say for now, but time will tell.


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