Sunday, January 23, 2011

Garmin Edge 800 Mini Review

I posted recently on Facebook that I purchased a Garmin Edge 800 to replace my Edge 705. I used the 705 for two years, and wanted to see what was new in the Garmin line-up. I had briefly considered the Edge 500 about a year ago, but it didn't have the GPS navigation functions that I was used to on the 705. So, I waited and the result is the Edge 800!

First, let me highlight the things I really like about this unit (these are in no particular order)! First, I love the new mounting system. The old system was prone to breakage so much so that I actually carried an extra mount on my bike in case of emergency. Now, Garmin would always replace the broken one, but still...I'm glad to see they updated the mount.

The Edge 800 has more screens for viewing data. The 705 had two screens with up to eight pieces of data per screen. The 800 has three screens with up to 10 pieces of data per screen. Personally, I like to leave the two top pieces extra large for Power and Speed, leaving the lower screens for other data (cadence, distance, elevation, grade, etc.). With the 800, I have more than enough screens available to see everything I need at a glance! Also, they have changed the font to one that is bolder, so it is easier to read the screens! Finally, the night time screen has white letters on a black background. I assume this will use less power and is much easier to read.

The screen is larger than the 705, and in this case, bigger is definitely better!

The 800's USB cover seems more robust than the 705. Many people had problems with the 705 cover falling off...I don't perceive this as an issue on the 800. Also, since the cover faces down, it seems there is less likelihood of water contamination if the unit is used in the rain.

The touch screen is pressure sensitive, so it works even with long-fingered gloves. Very nice! No more messing with buttons...just a sweep of the finger across the screen and I can access different screens, including elevation and maps.

It was hard to find anything I didn't like about the unit, but here a few small things. The 800 features an auto-scroll feature that automatically scrolls the unit through the data screens, elevation screen and map (note, you can choose which screens are included in auto-scroll). However, even in 'slow' mode, it still moves a bit fast for my taste. I can't imagine using it in medium or fast mode.

I haven't had a chance to play with the navigation features yet, but if it is the same as the 705, it will definitely be a love/hate relationship. More to follow on this... I also haven't tried using it with a AA external battery pack...this will definitely be a deal-breaker for those of us who ride longer rides in the dark where we need back-lighting.

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