Garmin Edge 820 Review – The Pros and Cons Of This High Tech Device

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AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS

Heart Rate Functions

99%

Fitness / Sport Features

90%

Ease of Use

90%

Battery Life

99%

Where To Get It

A Deep Dive Into The Garmin Edge 820

Garmin’s position in the market for GPS bike computers just keeps getting stronger and stronger. There are some worthy alternatives (think Polar M450), but, it has to be said, the gold standard is still the Garmin Edge range for innovation, reliability and performance.

The Garmin Edge 820 is a compact bike computer that offers a wealth of performance monitoring functions alongside competent mapping with auto-routing from it’s pre-loaded maps. This Garmin Edge 820 has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic

Review Update (November 2017) > The Garmin Edge 820 has been available for 14 months and Garmin have since brought out a couple of new models, the Edge 1000 and Edge 1030.

In my view the Edge 820 offers considerably better value for money than the new Edge 1030. The 1030 is a bigger unit (which some people prefer) and it features some great new Training Status metrics (whether you are over trained, balanced etc) HOWEVER, I do not think it’s worth the extra £250 / $300.

If you are looking for a performance monitoring bike computer that can provide an insight in to your VO2 Max and Recovery status (ANT+ HRM sensor required) it’s seriously hard to beat. Added to these innovative training features the Edge 820 also comes with some reliable navigation functions.

The Edge 820 is preloaded with Garmin maps – right down to street name & post code lookup with turn by turn navigation if required. Please check prices here with your regional Amazon store.

  • Who Is It For?

  • Video Review

  • Pros

  • Cons

  • NOTHING .... if you want BIGGER, get the Edge 1000
  • Seriously, it's the perfect GPS bike computer
  • Best Features / Innovations

    I have said it for each and every Garmin Edge unit since they started with the Edge 400 …. “what will they think of next”. If there is one thing Garmin never do it’s sit back on their laurels.

    They love to advance their products by embracing the latest generic technology and adapting it to enhance their GPS bike products. 

    The Edge 820is a combination of high tech gadgetry and usable / ride enhancing features. There are no features for the sake of features. Each and every function has been well thought out and, if relevant to your riding style, it will enhance your ride in one way or another.

    The Edge 820 has new and improved features in all areas, from performance monitoring to mapping and safety.

    Performance Monitoring Features

  • Compatible with ANT+ power meters, including Vector
  • Integrates with ANT+ electronic shifting systems (and ANT+ bike trainers)
  • Record advanced cycling dynamics – analyse where power is being applied on the pedal and throughout the stroke.
  • Determine your cycling-specific VO2 max
  • Recovery advisor – analyses training data and recommends a recovery time before next hard session.
  • Additional performance data includes FTP and watts/kg tracking
  • Supports in-ride challenges through Strava Live Segments (see video above).
  • Mapping / Navigation Feautures

  • Preloaded Garmin Cycle Map for bike-specific turn-by-turn navigation
  • Built-in Garmin Cycle Map with points of interest, bike-friendly trails
  • Round-trip Course Creator (this is brilliant, just tell it how far you want to ride, and it will give you a loop back ride)
  • Built-in GPS, GLONASS and altimeter provide accurate ride
  • Safety Features

  • GroupTrack – cyclists can keep track of each other on the live map screen
  • Compatible with Garmin’s range of Varia™ cycling awareness products
  • Built-in incident detection (for road riding use only). A message is sent to a nominated contact 
  • Quick Summary

    The Edge 820 is really an Edge 1000 that’s been compressed to fit in the case of the Edge 520. To this Garmin have added a handful of safety features like LiveTrack (so friends at home can track your position), GroupTrack (for other members of your riding group) Varia bike radar and lights support.

    As well as this significant rider safety innovations Garmin have also made significant improvements to NAVIGATION and PERFORMANCE monitoring. There’s enough training data to keep the most analytical rider / coach happy with everything from VO2 max, Recovery Adviser, FTP/Watts/kg tracking, Performance condition/lactate threshold/stress score as well as advanced cycling dynamics and connected features … Add to this Back to Home, Round Trip Routing and on device Route Planner and we have a WINNING combination.

    No. If you don’t want the mapping and can live without the safety features then consider either the Edge 520 or the Polar M450. If ALL you want it essential performance mapping with route follow (no mapping) then take a look at the Edge 25

    Garmin GroupTrack explained

    Differences? – Edge 1000, 1000 Explore, 820 & 820 Explore

    In 2017 there are two main models between £300 to £500, the Edge 820 and Edge 1000. They are BOTH fully functional GPS mapping devices that come with preloaded basemaps and the ability to add further maps. These two models are then split in to two variants, the Edge 820 Explore and the Edge 1000 Explore.

    Top Alternatives

    Next Model UP

    Please consider the Garmin Edge 1030 reviewed here. Everything that the Edge 820 does … plus more.

    Next Model DOWN

    This is easier, the next model down is the Garmin Edge 520. The Edge 520 does NOT feature the auto-routing / course following functionality of the 820.

    Nor does include the new safety feature > GroupTrack, although it does support LiveTrack and compatibility with the Varia Radar system.

    They both provide up to 15 hours battery life (the Edge 820 a battery saving mode that can give an extra 50%) and they are both the same size 1.9” x 2.9” x 0.8” (49.0 x 73.0 x 21.0 mm)

    If budget is NOT an issue, get the Edge 820. If you’re being careful with budget, and you don’t need the auto-routing functions, then go for the Edge 520

    Comparison Table – Edge 820 & 1000 variants

    The comparison table below gives more details on the main differences in functionality and features of the Edge 820 & Edge 1000. The regular (non Explore) models drop the Virtual Partner, Intervals and advanced Workouts, plus other performance monitoring features like VO2 Max and Recovery analysis. If in doubt, and budget allows, I’d personally recommend the NON Explore version for the performance cyclist and the Explore version for the touring / adventure rider.

    Additional Functions
    It’s clear from the information in this table that the Edge 820 is the best option for the serious performance focused cyclist with Vo2 Max, FTP, stress score and lactate threshold predictions.

    Smartphone & WiFi Connectivity

    The 820 seamlessly connects to your smartphone providing what we now consider quite “standard” functions like smartphone notifications and data upload. With it’s own internal WiFi chipset it’s also possible to connect your 820 to your home WiFi network making data upload even quicker and easier (no phone required)

    Battery Life

    Garmin have developed a system called UtraTrac. In Garmin’s own words “UltraTrac mode is a GPS setting that periodically turns off GPS to save battery power.” What this means in the realworld is that you could expect to get 20 hours+ from your Edge 820 in UltraTrac mode. The standard battery life expectancy is a commendable 15 hours.

    Compact Design and Full Colour Display

    It comes with a bright, full colour, touchscreen display that works well in all light conditions. It’s a mid-sized “compact” design which, in my view, is the perfect size for most recreational cyclists. the Edge 1000 has a slightly longer display but it’s actually quite narrower.

    Barometric Pressure sensor

    The Edge 820 features a barometric pressure sensor to give the most accurate altitude data possible. Computers that rely solely on the GPS for altitude data are “OK” but no way near as sensitive as the barometric sensors. Every inch/cm that you climb or descend will be recorded for later review on Strava/Garmin Connect or in the pub with your biking buddies.

    Click the image below for a detailed review of a ride me and my mate Andy Green did while holidaying in Spain. This data was taken from Andy’s Edge 520 (not 820) but it displays all the same data you’d get from an 820 (they both have barometric pressure sensors)

    Garmin Connect IQ

    As with the wrist based Garmin Forerunner range, the latest Garmin Edge devices, including this Edge 820, support Garmin Connect IQ. Connect IQ is Garmin’s version of PlayStore and iOs APP store. Garmin themselves and other third party developers can add applications to the Connect IQ that users with compatible devices like this Edge 820 and the Edge 520, Forerunner 235 and Vivoactive HR can download via Garmin Connect to their device. Here’s a list of all the applications currently available for the Edge 820 on Connect IQ

    Some popular Connect IQ applications compatible with the Edge 820 include:

    • Strava Suffer Score
    • Find my Car
    • Visual Heart Rate Zone
    • VO2

    Image Gallery

    Full Features

    Physical & Performance

    • Physical dimensions 1.9” x 2.9” x 0.8” (49.0 x 73.0 x 21.0 mm)
    • Display size, WxH 2.3” (58.4 mm)
    • Display resolution, WxH 200 x 265 pixels
    • Touchscreen
    • Color display
    • Weight – 2.4 oz (67.7 g)
    • Battery – rechargeable lithium-ion
    • Battery life – up to 15 hours GPS training mode
    • Water rating – IPX7
    • GPS-enabled
    • GLONASS
    • High-sensitivity receiver
    • Barometric altimeter
    • Unit-to-unit transfer (shares data wirelessly with similar units)
    • Smart notifications (displays email, text and other alerts when paired with your compatible phone)
    • VIRB® control

    Maps & Memory

    • Basemap
    • Ability to add maps
    • Waypoints/favorites/locations   –  200
    • Routes   –  100 Courses
    • History   –  up to 200 hours

    Cycling Features

    • Compatible with Vector™
    • Bike speed/cadence sensor   –  Yes (Some versions)

    Performance Features

    • Heart rate monitor   –  Yes (optional)
    • Virtual Partner® (train against a digital person)
    • Courses (compete against previous activities)
    • Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed)
    • Auto Lap® (automatically starts a new lap)
    • Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during workout)
    • Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts)
    • Time/distance alert (triggers alarm when you reach goal)
    • Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals)
    • Heart rate-based calorie computation
    • Calculates calories burned
    • Customizable screen(s)
    • Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible 3rd party ANT+™-enabled power meters, records data approx. 1 per second)
    • Provides Normalised Power – a useful metric for those performing intervals and other non-linear training
    • Temperature (displays and records temperature while you ride)
    • Shock Resistant

    Garmin Connect™

    • Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data)
    • Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer)

    Additional Features

    • Smart notifications displays texts and calls only
    • Internal memory: 16 GB
    • Personal cycling records: yes
    • Compatible with Varia™ bike radar and lights: yes
    • Edge® remote compatibility: yes
    • LiveTrack: yes
    • GroupTrack: yes
    • Advanced performance and power analysis, including VO2 max, Recovery Adviser, FTP/Watts/kg tracking, Performance condition/lactate threshold/stress score as well as advanced cycling dynamics and connected features
    • Bike trainer profile for compatible Turbo trainer data display and control
    • On-device segment compatibility for dynamic and engaging in-ride competition: yes
    • Operating temperature: -20°C to +55°C
    • Connected features via a smartphone: yes
    • Compatible with Garmin Connect™ and Garmin Connect™ Mobile: yes
    • Integration with Shimano Di2 electronic shifting: yes
    • Weather alerts: yes
    • Wi-Fi® compatible: yes
    • Ambient light: yes
    • Round-trip routing: yes
    • Route planner: yes
    • Incident detection: yes
    • Training plans/workouts: yes
    • Connect IQ™ compatible: yes
    • Audio prompts: yes
    • Auto start (timer starts automatically at custom speed): yes
    • ANT+™ electronic shifting compatibility: yes
    • ANT+ bike trainer compatible: yes
    • Strava Segments compatible: yes
    • Stress score: yes
    • Battery save mode: Extends battery life up to 50 percent while still tracking ride detail

    REVIEW SUMMARY

    There is absolutely no questioning that the Garmin Edge 820 is one of the best GPS bike computers on the market. It’s suitable for everyone from performance cyclists to commuters and even long distance tour riders.

    The Edge 820 supports heart rate, cadence and power meters using Garmin’s ANT+. It features detailed mapping of Europe that provides A>B auto-routing at street level or post code. I could simply recall all the wonderful and innovative features found on this brilliant bike computer but there’s no need. The bottom line is this, I have awarded the Edge 820 top marks with a rating of 5/5 stars.

    Update March 2018 > Please also consider the Garmin Edge 1030 reviewed here. It does everything that the Edge 820 does and some.

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    Last Updated on June 23, 2019

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