The Garmin Edge 820 has been kicking around since late 2016 with early reviews rather mixed and generally frustrated. Step forward two years, several software updates and a price drop later, and perhaps the Garmin Edge 820 deserves another look? So, here’s my first-hand 2018 Garmin Edge 820 review with tips.
The Garmin Edge 820 is nicely weighted (67.7g) and my first impression was “Wow, tiny!“. Today, I’m often reminded how well built this product is, from a manufacturer with unparalleled experience in the GPS field.
After several months of almost daily use there are no signs of wear and tear. I do look after my stuff but when I think back to where this device has been and how much weather its seen, it’s still in surprisingly good nick!
The side and bottom buttons are as fresh and crisp as the first day I fumbled with them and as a result I have given the Garmin Edge 820 a reflective rating. Garmin produce high quality GPS cycling computers, period.
TIP 1 • There’s no negative effect to protecting the screen of your Garmin with a self-adhesive protector. Fitting can be fiddly but their worth the effort, protecting the screen from false touches, weather, dust and snot.
For the hundred or so rides I’ve recorded with my Garmin Edge 820 I’m happy to report the device has been highly reliable. It’s become an invaluable tool I’ve developed strong confidence in, but it’s not without the odd hiccup!
It’s in practical use where I’ve had the hiccups, just two little ones to be precise.
Firstly, there’s no surprise when any GPS device loses a signal in difficult places (tunnels, by cliffs etc.), so those occasions I fully accept. There have however, been two occasions where my device plain froze. A simple reset resolves things but it can disrupt my ride and I lose data, hence the loss of half a star here. Fairs fair, right?
Secondly, when I return from a ride, all sweaty and delirious, I’ve occasionally had to reset the Garmin Edge 820 before I can upload my ride to Garmin Connect then Strava. It’s not frequent and I’ve never lost ride data, but it frustrates the brussles out of me when I have to fiddle before I can review my most epic ride data.
NOTE • August 2018 update may have resolved this issue. I’ve not seen it since, so perhaps add +
In fairness, I must say, I had to dig quite deep to even note these issues here. Otherwise, the Edge 820 is a high quality, durable, highly reliable product with excellent battery life, even in demanding outdoor conditions.
TIP 2 • Garmin included a really useful tether point at the base of the Edge 820. I clip-tether my Garmin to my bars for two reasons, 1) possibility of loss due to accident or mount failure, and 2) reduce the risk of it being swiped by a passing tea-leaf! You’ll find my DIY security tether products in the Amazon links down below.
Features features features.. the list is mind-blowing, you can find them here EDGE 820 SPEC for reference, but in this review I want to remain focused on the device rather than dig into feature detail. Suffice to say, there are so many features built-in to the Garmin Edge 820 it’s hard to imagine any cyclist left wanting for more.
The Garmin Edge 820 just misses a perfect Features rating, not due to any software or electronic features but for its form. Specifically the size of the active touch screen area measuring just W32 x H45mm (58.4mm diagonal).
This torments me because a quality, low profile, fully featured, reliable, light and solidly mounted GPS head unit is kind of the dream that Garmin delivers. However, there is a point where screen sizes can go sub-human, hurting some core features and with the Edge 820 I think Garmin have pushed that limit.
Bottom line is the more detailed the screen, the more difficult it is to read whilst riding. Maps at moderate scale and some custom screens can be a visual strain, but for most, this really isn’t the deal breaker it first sounds.
The vast majority of people, when riding, will only view data screens anyway. The Garmin Edge 820 delivers these handsomely and at all light levels too. So, the Garmin Edge 820 is a serious compact contender.
If you want a GPS navigator for your weekly 200km Audax then the Edge 820 may not be the perfect partner, however, if your mortal and want a bike computer that links to Strava and reliably records all your effort data, maps, routes, times and records etc. it would be a sore mistake to ignore the Garmin Edge 820 today.
TIP 3 • Set your Garmin Edge 820 to turn off the back-light at 30 seconds, saving battery. Then to move through screens first tap the display to wake the back-light and THEN swipe for a more intuitive user experience.
Very few people will ever claim to have bought a cheap Garmin anything. When we want quality we tend to find a price attached, and after prolonged use I can see and feel why the Edge 820 carries a premium.
I say it carries a premium, but today, does it? Well here’s where stepping forward two years pays dividends. When launched the Edge 820 was £329/$399 and today that has plummeted to a point around £220 here in the UK!
After prolonged use and rigorous testing I would have given the 2016 price a review of and thus advised cautious purchase. Here in 2018 with a price point around £220 my conservative rating is because for this quality and functionality, it is at a wallet opening price point very hard to ignore!
TIP 4 • Don’t be afraid to try alternative ANT+ speed, cadence and heart rate sensors. They are often cheaper than Garmin originals and in my experience work equally as well! Separate review coming soon..
The Garmin Edge 820 has proven to be a high-quality GPS cycling computer, feature rich, functional and just as capable today as it was when it first launched second half of 2016. It has a practical and pleasing aesthetic.
Setup and configuration can be complex and some people may struggle to use more than the default screen layouts and basic upload functions. No problem! because out the box the Edge 820 is setup and good to go.
Just create a Garmin Connect account, download the app or signup online and if you use Strava just link it to your Garmin Connect account for automatic ride data updates. Simple enough really…
The current price point represents extremely good value for money. It is also worth noting that we have all the benefits of two years worth of software updates, that have sharpened many functional aspects of the Edge 820.
This is the official Garmin Edge 820 Changelog It’s a wow! you might want to get grab a coffee and get comfy?
The verdict is best summed up by asking “Would I recommend this to a friend?” The answer is I already have and would do so again. I can’t suggest an alternative full-colour device this feature rich that’s so easy to carry around.
The sensors and accessories are all mature now with plenty of cheaper aftermarket options for those of us on a budget. I wouldn’t be without my Edge 820 and when I need a replacement, Garmin will be my first stop too.
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