Over the years, I have transitioned from various cycle computers - a Garmin Edge 305, to an Edge 500, then to an Edge 510; I did have a brief dalliance with an Edge 1000, but found it too large for racing; most recently I have settled on the Edge 520. For me, the Edge 500 series is ideal in terms of size, and to be honest the lure of full directional mapping (previously only available in the Edge 1000), was never enough to warrant the larger unit size.
The Garmin Edge 820 has finally allowed me to have my cake and eat it, along with the starter and main course...
Straight out of the box
The Edge 820 is instantly familiar.. It still has the Start/Stop and Lap buttons at the base, and a power button on the side; however, the other buttons have gone! Touchscreen is back on the "500 size! It previously existed on the Edge 510; but it was a little unreliable. The new Edge 820 brings touch to the small screen computer, faultlessly.
Touch-capability helps from the moment you begin to set up the Array. The menu is the same intuitive design as on other Garmin units, but the touch screen makes it a lot faster to navigate than on the button-function Edge 520. As a long-time Garmin user, I was up and running in minutes; and had the unit mounted on the bike (using the well-known quarter-turn mount) within minutes.
Pairing your phone with the Garmin Edge 820 (via Bluetooth) allows you to upload activities, and also receive call and text notifications. You can also use either Bluetooth or ANT+ accessories; such as a heart rate strap, power meter or cadence sensor; or the new Varia range. One pairing upgrade on from the Edge 520, is that the also has WiFi capabilities; so your rides are instantly uploaded to Garmin Connect once you get home, even without pairing to your phone.
The unit has all the regular Garmin features - customisable screens, data fields, units and everything else; plus, a whole load of new ones!
The main highlight is that the is a full directional navigation device; so you can enter a destination, and it will guide you with perfectly visible and clear maps and turn-by-turn instructions. You can zoom in and out, and it tells you in good time when a turn is coming up.
You can of course upload a course you've created in Garmin Connect, or Strava, and it will guide you round your route. Or alternatively, if you're riding in a strange land, you can use the route feature to plan a ride for you, once you've selected your desired length.
The unit also has new features such as Group Track, which allows you to track your pals when out riding. I've not used this yet, but the chance to see where your riding mates are ahead of a rendezvous should be interesting!
The unit also develops the professional style performance monitoring features. Adding to Recovery Check, the unit now has an in-depth power analysis screen for use with Ant+ devices. If you're also using a HR strap, then the unit will also measure your VO2 max. All this data could help your fitness and riding progression, it is certainly a motivator!
The satellite connection is very fast, and uses GPS and Glonass to give you an accurate and swift location. No longer do you need to leave the unit in the middle of the patio while you have breakfast, to get a satellite fix!
So a couple of rides in, and the Edge 820 is both a familiar friend and a new buddy. I've taken in some new routes, emboldened to explore by the directional navigation; and I have stepped up the training some more, with the aid of better data analysis.
The only trouble I've had so far, was when the MOD closed one of the roads I was going to use… for Tank Practice! Come on Garmin, surely you can do something to sort that out!
All in all, the Edge 820 is the ideal trade up. All the simplicity you need, and every feature you can think of; all in a small sleek design. Sign up!