The Garmin Edge 820 has been kicking around since late 2016 with early reviews rather mixed and generally frustrated. Step forward three years, several software updates and a price drop later, and perhaps the Edge 820 deserves another look? So, here’s my REVISED DOWN first-hand 2019 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 this field.
After several months of almost daily use there are few 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.
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 un-happy with the device and Garmin service. I’ve had to return my original unit due to repeated failures (various power and GPS lock issues), and despite buying retail I was offered only a refurb in return. Not good when you finance beyond 12 months!
After reporting my hiccups Garmin communication was clinical, poor and service an absolute minimum.
Since receipt of my refurb (thanks) I still have intermittent GPS locks regardless of atmosphere and environment. It’s plain and simple temperamental and I have lost confidence in this device. Sad, because I really want to like it for its features and form. Still, if it doesn’t reliably do what it says on the tin… it all means nothing!
Two rides ago my device struggled to get a GPS lock and drew a random wild pattern on my Strava map data. It rendered my entire rides data useless and returned incomplete ride stats.
One ride ago my device failed to maintain a GPS lock and therefore didn’t record sectors I actually rode. It dropped signal mind-way around a trail and caused a weird blip in my ride data. Fortunately, I had a route plotted as I also used my mobile phone, ironically that never misses a beat yet isn’t that devices prime function :/
Last ride out my cadence sensor failed. I lost all cadence data, stopped, checked for damage, replaced the battery carefully and still nothing. It took three attempts to re-seat the battery and check the metal pins inside the sensor before I luckily regained a signal… Zero confidence and once more, trash ride data again.
The Garmin 820 has literally been more trouble than its worth since the beginning on this year. I had 18 months to pay for it and Garmin seem only bothered enough to say they will honour warranty to 12 months from purchase.
In other words… they seem to want to be rid of this device nearly as much as I do and they certainly don’t make any attempt to offer fair and reasonable customer service above any more than the statutory minimum.
TIP 2 • Garmin did include 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! I may undo mine soon, I honestly wouldn’t miss it based on my recent experience.
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 promises. 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 over the EDGE (sorry..)!
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 fair data recorder (when it works).
If you want a GPS navigator for your weekly 200km Audax then the Edge 820 is not the perfect partner, however, if your mortal and want a bike computer that links to Strava and records your effort data, maps, routes, times and records etc. it might be worth consideration at today’s price point.
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 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 2019 with a price point around £220 my rating is because for this functionality, it is at a wallet opening price point hard to ignore!
Reliability is the main consideration if thinking on purchase. Would I buy again? With regret, I doubt it…
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 more reliably! Separate review coming soon..
The Garmin Edge 820 has proven to be feature rich but unreliable. My experience of Garmin service isn’t anything to shout about nor reference favourably (I’m sad to say).
The device has a strange touch screen lag which hinders predictable use while moving and the size of the screen is at the very limit of humanely practical.
It’s not all criticism though. The size of the device is a plus on the other hand, small form means light weight and easily mounted. Battery life is very good and screen brightness adjustment is adequate for 95% of outdoor environments from bright sun to dark tunnels.
Unreliability plays havoc with external data services like Strava and as a result it’s not IF you’ll lose ride data but how frequently you lose data and how much that affects your activity.
In wider research its not long before you read other users experiencing similar issue with the Edge 820 model.
My summary is this : Garmin have not done enough to support users reporting faults and appear to want to wash their hands of this as soon as possible. Say little and do only what you must, is how their service left me feeling.
It may not be the case but this is my honest first-hand review of this item and as a result I cannot recommend it.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider one though! It is only my opinion..
The price point and features make this a combination that’s hard to ignore, despite reliability issues. If you do think twice I’d simply say, invest a few bob and get an extended warranty because if your experience is similar to mine it’s likely to go back once in a while.
DO NOT buy a Garmin 820 used!
All our reviews are independent and written without prejudice or bias. If we receive sponsorship for advertisement it will never be entitled ‘Review’. Our aim is to always maintain the highest possible consumer focused standards.