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Garmin Edge 810: my thoughts after 6 weeks/2,600 km and the XFL ride.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

April
9
2014

Now that I have quite a few miles on one of my newest cycling-related gizmos–the Garmin Edge 810 Computer–I wanted to post some of my thoughts and impressions.

Garmin Edge 810 mounted on my 2013 Madone 5.9

Garmin Edge 810 mounted on my 2013 Madone 5.9

As many of you know, the Garmin Edge 810 had a rocky start in life. Garmin released this unit in early 2013 before it was truly ready for prime time, and countless scathing reviews quickly followed. The Edge 810 is not an inexpensive bit of kit, and angry early adopters were very upset–and justifiably so. Those initial reviews seriously harmed the Edge 810’s image, and it still has not recovered in the minds of many.

Over the past year, however, several firmware updates have corrected the vast majority of issues present when the Garmin 810 launched. I was not personally affected by any of the early problems, as I waited until late February 2014 to pick up the Edge 810.

Over the past six weeks I’ve put nearly 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) on my Edge 810, and it has been rock solid in nearly every respect. I need to point out that the first unit I received was defective, and was replaced after just one ride. The replacement unit has been 100% trouble-free.

One of the biggest tests for the Garmin Edge 810 came over this past weekend: the 2014 Cross-Florida ride (you can find my recaps and photos of this event here: Part I & Part II). This 274 kilometer (170 mile) ride was a perfect real-world test of the Edge 810’s ability to perform over a very long ride in a stressful environment.

What do I mean by “stressful environment”?

On Sunday my Garmin Edge 810 ran non-stop for nearly 11 hours (it was not powered off during SAG stops or lunch), the hot sun was beating down on it the entire day (the Garmin recorded a max temperature of 98.6° F) and all of the Edge’s features were running: I had the 167.1 mile course loaded into memory, turn-by-turn directions were enabled, Garmin’s unique LiveTrack feature was running the entire time so that people could follow my progress in real-time, Bluetooth was enabled the entire time (Bluetooth is used to communicate Livetrack data to my Smartphone, and the Smartphone then uses its data connection to update Livetrack with fresh data) and screen backlighting was enabled with a 60-second timeout.

During the long ride I frequently swiped between the Edge 810’s various screens (all of which are fully customizable, by the way); each swipe enabled the Edge’s backlighting, which remained on for a full 60 seconds after each screen interaction (the backlighting timeout is also fully customizable).

The Edge 810 has a resistive touchscreen, and this allows the screen to work flawlessly with gloved hands, sweaty hands and/or when the screen is covered in rain drops and sweaty, energy gel smears. Resistive touchscreens, as the name implies, requires a small amount of finger pressure for them to respond. Cell phones, by comparison, have capacitive touch screens, which–as we all know–don’t perform well in any of the conditions I just mentioned.

Prior to the Cross-Florida ride, I was concerned that the Edge 810’s battery would not survive the long day–especially with all of its many features running the entire time. I’m pleased to report that when I finished the 170 mile ride the Edge 810 still had 15% battery life remaining. Again, the unit was not powered off during SAG stops or lunch, so it ran continuously for nearly 11 straight hours. Based on this information, I would feel confident that the Edge 810 would be able to handle a double century (200 mile) ride with all features running. It could certainly go even longer with a reduced backlight timeout setting, less features running and if it were powered down during SAG stops and rest breaks.

As an aside, my Galaxy S4 (Verizon) Smartphone had 49% battery life remaining at the end of the ride. That’s pretty awesome considering the phone was in constant communication (via Bluetooth) with the Edge 810, its data connection was in continuous use (for the Livetrack feature), I made several phone calls during the ride, took dozens of photographs and made lots of Facebook status updates.

Stability of the Edge 810 has been flawless. Over the past six weeks of daily use, my Edge 810 has experienced no lockups, crashes, errors or other serious problems.

There have been just two issues that caught me off-guard…

The first issue was that on a ride a couple weeks ago Livetrack stopped updating. I believe that problem was caused because I walked far away from the head unit during a rest stop. Because of this, my phone lost its Bluetooth connection with the Edge. Now I simply remove my Garmin from the bike at rest stops, and toss it in my jersey pocket (which is where my phone is). Problem solved.

The only other problem I have had with the Edge is that its turn-by-turn navigation system could use some tweaking. Don’t misunderstand: I love the turn-by-turn course feature, and for the most part it works extremely well. As many of you know, I’m terrible with directions, and the Edge 810 has allowed me to ride routes that I otherwise could never have ridden. That said, The Edge 810 gets confused sometimes when a course contains different outbound and return routes that use the same street. It’s not a huge deal, but I would love it if a future firmware update could improve on this shortcoming.

I am completely satisfied with my Garmin Edge 810, and have no regrets with my purchase. If you find the Edge 810’s list of features attractive but have put off the purchase due to some of the early reviews, based on my experience I would say those issues have been fully resolved and would recommend this cycling computer.

Finally, now’s a great time to pick up the Garmin Edge 810: through the end of May 2014 Garmin is offering a $100 rebate! This rebate is good on the Edge 810 Bundle and also just the base unit.

John Stone Fitness Comments

11 Responses to “Garmin Edge 810: my thoughts after 6 weeks/2,600 km and the XFL ride.”
    • Just because I’m a cyclist doesn’t mean that I don’t still love training with weights! One of the things I like best about machines like the X9 is the incredible variety of exercises available.

      As for the current status, the thread on the forum is probably the best place to keep up with that, as the manufacturer posts relevant updates there. I know we’re very close, but I don’t have a firm ETA on when my machine will arrive.

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  1. I’m absolutely blown away by the battery life on the S4. I’m guessing Verizon coverage there is really good, right? My general experience with smartphones, both Android and iOS, is that the batteries do about as well as advertised unless the cell signal is bad. Then it’s just a disaster.

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    • Yeah, Verizon coverage here is outstanding, and that’s a big part of why I switched from Sprint about a year ago. I’m very satisfied with the S4 and Verizon.

      We rode through some very remote areas while traveling across the state on Sunday, and I’m sure coverage was spotty in many places. For that reason, the battery life I enjoyed on Sunday is particularly impressive!

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  2. Just bought the edge 810, all working fine, but am having problems getting live track to work. It starts fine on the iphone, phone links to edge. Email is sent out (although a bit slow), the live track page opens and sometimes I even see a blue dot radiating. But then I get a yellow sign which says signal lost, trying to reconnect. I have restarted so many times in different locations, but no luck. I have opened google and done a search, opened internet radio, all to confirm that I have good internet connection on the phone. Seems that if cell network is lost, the livetrack cannot automatically reconnect and take up where it got lost. Anyone else have any suggestions. Frustrating because I really bought this gps for the live tracking.

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    • I’ve ridden through places with really poor, or even non-existent, cell service, and my 810 always picks LiveTrack back up once I get back to place with better coverage.

      I wonder if you’ve got a bad unit? What your describing is definitely atypical. I’d contact Garmin support by phone and see what they have to say.

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