Garmin Edge 810 Review: Smartphone Link Enables New Features

Garmin Edge 810 Review

With the Edge 810 GPS, Garmin is introducing smartphone connectivity and utility, with features including live tracking, real-time weather, and wireless data transfers. The Edge 810 is also loaded with other capabilities, such as wireless heart rate monitor support, customizable display, and turn-by-turn directions from installed maps. If you're looking for the ultimate in bike computers, the 810 is it. Read this Garmin Edge 810 review to know more about it.

Every Feature in a Cyclecomputer

The Garmin Edge 810 is designed to be fully loaded, with every GPS cyclecomputer feature you can think of, and quite few that you probably haven't. It's also intended to work closely with your smartphone, whether it's an iPhone or an Android OS phone. The flip side of all this is that the 810 may not be for you if you prefer a simpler approach to your riding stats (there are other, less costly Garmin models for that, by the way).

But if live ride and race tracking, wireless connectivity for data transfers, social media updates, real-time weather and other services, and the ability to ride with the entire Garmin City Navigator North America map-set and POI set, including turn-by-turn direction capability on your handlebar captures your interest, read on.

The Garmin Edge 810 is an evolutionary step away from the Edge 800, sharing a very similar shape, size (3.7 x 2.0 x 1.0 inches) and screen size (2.6 inches diagonal), and weight (3.5 ounces). The Edge 810 leans more heavily on touchscreen control, and it uses resistive touchscreen technology, so it works with a gloved hand.

Like the 800 before it, the 810 uses a versatile, twist-to-lock reinforced nylon mounting base that is at home on a wide range of handlebar sizes and stems. It may also be mounted on a Garmin Edge Out-Front model bike mount that places it front-and-center ahead of the stem, and is ideal for aero-handlebar equipped bikes and triathlons. The mounting base is held in place by stout O-ring rubber bands that come included in a set of different sizes for different diameter applications, and have held up well for me with years of service.

One big advantage of wireless GPS cyclecomputers is the ability to quickly switch them between bikes, and the Edge 810 even lets you input different bike setups you can choose from a menu.

The Edge 810 has a built-in, weather-proofed microSD port, to quickly accept a wide range of Garmin optional mapsets, and a covered USB port.

Setting Up and Road Testing the Garmin Edge 810 GPS Cyclecomputer

After you've charged up your Garmin Edge's lithium-ion battery (17-hour battery charge life) with its included USB port cable, and entered your age, height, weight, and other preferences, such as heart rate zones if you've opted for the wireless heart rate monitor, you're ready to complete the setup.

The main screen includes five data fields that are completely customizable to show any of the Edge 810's many metrics. My preference is to show speed, average speed, distance, time of day, and heart rate. But if you're interested in more esoteric stats such as percent grade or total ascent, feel free to use one of the data fields for that. Simply hold down on the data field and a menu will appear to customize what appears in that field.

If you want connected services - and you probably do if you've paid the extra money for an 810 - you will download the free Garmin Connect mobile app to your smartphone, and then pair up your phone with the 810 via Bluetooth. I found the process to be easy and trouble-free. Connected services include: wireless automatic sync of ride and workout data to the free Garmin Connect service (it's terrific, if you haven't used it); live tracking (with permissions that you set up through Garmin Connect; social media sharing (tweet your location and speed); and real-time weather.

On the road, the Garmin Edge 810's touchscreen control takes a little getting used to, especially if you're trained to the light touch of a smartphone screen, but it comes naturally with practice, and does work with a gloved hand. I found that I needed to adjust the screen brightness to near its highest level to make the screen clearly visible in full sun.

Road Testing the Garmin Edge 810

The screen menu includes a folder icon, which leads to the rides, courses, workouts, personal records, locations, and totals screens. A map icon opens the GPS map, which can be zoomed and dragged for perspective. A tools icon shows setup options such as activity profiles, bike profile, bluetooth setup, and training zones. Bottom-of-the-screen arrow icons let you cycle through the main data screen, map, virtual partner (shows your position relative to a pre-set pace "rider"), and elevation profile.

During my rides, the 810 kept very accurate distance and other stats, and Garmin these days supplements the U.S. based GPS satellite system with the Russian GLONASS system to double up on satellite availability and to improve accuracy. After my rides, it was quick and easy to upload my ride data to my Garmin Connect account, where I could examine the ride in detail if I wished, and store all types of cumulative stats.

I used the 810 with Garmin's nicely made, light and comfortable wireless heart rate monitor and machine-washable strap. It was great to have heart rate displayed on the handlebar and viewable in detail in Garmin Connect.

If you're an advanced user, you can use Garmin's ANT technology to display and store data from optional power meters and other sophisticated training aids.

Overall, the Garmin Edge 810 is the right computer for the rider who wants every conceivable bit of ride and race data on the handlebar, has an interest in sharing real time location and other data, and like wireless data transfer.

Data Fields

Garmin Edge 810 data fields include:

Cadence (with optional cadence sensor): average, lap.
Calories: calories-fat.
Courses: distance, distance to destination, distance to go, distance to next, ETA to destination, ETA at next, heading, time to destination.
Distance: distance lap, distance last lap, odometer.
Elevation: percent grade, total ascent, total descent, vertical speed, vertical speed 30-second average.
GPS: accuracy, signal strength.
Sunrise, sunset, temperature, time of day.
Heart rate, %HRR, %Max, average, lap, last lap, zone.
Full turn-by-turn navigation with audible cues.
Power metrics set.
Speed: average, lap, max, zone.
Workouts: calories to go, distance to go, reps to go, time to go.

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