Garmin Edge 800 Overview and Review
Meet the Garmin Edge 800, the world’s first touch screen bicycle computer with amazing functions. If you are looking for the most advanced bicycle computer on the market with a ton of functions and outputs then this may be for you.
Made by Garmin and sporting a carbon fiber look, this multifunction touch color screen computer pushes the edge of technology in the bicycle computer world. While concentrating on functionality, this simple to use device is easy to use for the tech savvy people as well as those not so much.
One of the greatest features is its ‘plug n play’ capabilities. Its intuitive and easy to setup and can be readily moved from bike to bike without any reprogramming and calibrating necessary. I have to say, we were quite impressed with this unit. We will discuss the pros and cons of owning a Garmin Edge 800 in the paragraphs to follow.
The Garmin Edge 800 comes two different ways
- The basic unit with no add-ons, for most, this is plenty
- The bundled unit which includes a heart rate monitor, a speed/sensor kit, and data card pre-loaded with maps to further it’s capabilities.
Overview of the Garmin Edge 800
The Garmin Edge 800 is a GPS touch screen bike computer that allows the user to track, monitor, and record all sorts of ride data. It has all the features of a typical bicycle computer (distance, odometer, current speed, max. speed, avg. speed, etc.) as well as many more. The non-bundled unit can track all sorts of ride data using the built in GPS. I will talk more about this later. And the bundled version has a heart-rate monitor, and speed/sensor cadence kit, as well as built in maps. Otherwise the units are the same. There is just increased functionality allowing the user to finely tune the ride analysis with the bundled version.
One of the greatest features of this unit is the ability to use the touch screen while wearing a glove. This has been tested by many and works great. The screen has been fine tined to be sunlight-readable in all lighting conditions. The unit is waterproof as well as shock resistant, as like many other Garmin devices.
The Garmin Edge 800 also features a unique mount design that allows the head to be twisted off with a quarter turn and be easily moved to another bicycle. Have a look at the picture to the right. There are no reports of this mounting bracket coming loose.
Some unique features that can be coupled with the use of other products are its ability to work with a compatible power meter (in our case it is a Power Tap hub). It works great both displaying the current output as well as recording all the data for later analysis. The Garmin Edge 800 also work with the Tanita BC-1000 to track weight, body fat, body water and six other measurements. Quite cool.
This powerful PC and MAC friendly unit comes with a built-in basemap that tracks your distance, speed, location and ascent/descent as well as shows major road ways and cities. Like I mentioned earlier additional data cards can be purchased separately or with the bundle to guarantee all your secondary roads are visible on your unit. The transmissions from the power meter and heart rate strap are wireless, so no extra brackets or wiring there if you buy the bundled package.
Important Specifications of the Garmin Edge 800
- PC or MAC compatible
- rechargeable Li-Ion battery
- batter life up to 15 hours
- 3.5 ozs.
- includes bike mount, battery charger, USB cable, and manual
What we Like about the Garmin Edge 800
Well, let me start by saying setup was a cinch. No rocket science here. When the unit was booted up for the first time it took us through a series of setup questions to create a rider profile. One important difference compared to most computers is that no calibration is required for the bike or the ANT+ devices, pretty cool feature for those of us who are technology impaired. We also loved the ability to use this with gloves on. We tested it with real thick winter gloves and were pleased to find out that it worked just fine. We found the color screen to be surprisingly vibrant and easy to read at a glance while riding along.
The unit is slightly smaller than our Garmin Edge 705, measuring 2 x 3.7 x 1. It has just two external buttons, all the rest are touch screen. Charge time was incredibly fast, renderings loaded very quickly. With swipes of the finger, the incredibly responsive screen can move from one display to another. One of the coolest features is that the software allows you to pick a bike that you are riding, leaving a separate odometer for each bike. Nifty!
The Garmin Edge 800 has six total screens, three of which are customizable with up to 10 different data points per screen. The remaining three screens are a map screen, an altitude graph, and a pacer screen. We found the pacer screen to be pretty useful, allowing you to ‘chase’ a pace guy that you set up before hand. The altitude screen is quite cool too, not incredibly useful but a nice addition. All the data you see (very small) on the altitude screen can be pulled up later. We didn’t find it to be a ‘must have’.
For training purposes, we tried to customize our riding dashboard according to what we like to see. On the first customizable screen, we tried to include important data that we would like to see real time while riding, this included power, time elapsed, cadence, distance, HR, speed, etc. On the second customizable screen we laid out all the possible power related detail, and on the third screen we filled it up with data points that are not completely necessary, but they are fun to see, like temperature, time, elevation, cumulative feet climbed, vertical speed (which is basically your climbing rate). You can customize your data however you like as well as change as often as you like.
If you plan to use your Garmin Edge 800 often for turn by turn directions, budget yourself an extra $80 for the data card filled with detailed maps. If you buy the bundled version, you do not have to worry about this.
The Garmin Edge 800 has a automatic time zone adjustment, which again, is another ‘nice to have’ function. Also, the barometric altimeter provides extra-precise climb and descent data and records temperature changes, which is also kind of cool. Again, much of this data capture is not necessary, but it sure is a nice feature in retrieving ride data.
Things to Point out about the Garmin Edge 800
- we had to adjust the setting on the background light while we were riding to make the screen more visible, once we did this, we did not have any problems seeing the screen
- we also own a Garmin Edge 705 and the alarm sounds on that device are noticeably louder, no big deal, but if you are doing intervals and need to hear the beeping, this is something to consider
- purchasing a screen protector is a good idea, our screen scratched slightly while riding through thick brush in the woods. Once we put the screen protector on, we had no more problems.
- the screen does not completely lock, again not a big deal
- like other Garmin devices that I have owned, you must remember to start and stop your timer, there is no autostart
- the mount is not ideal for real short stems
Honestly, I love Garmin Connect. For such a valuable tool in and of its own, any Garmin product is worth the purchase.
Explore the Garmin Connect™ site and choose from millions of rides uploaded by other users. Or share your ride with others. Its very easy to use, I have been using it since I got my first Edge 705.
Garmin Connect is a online tool that Garmin provides (free) that you can track your rides. We LOVE it. We don’t download every time we ride, we tend to do it once a week. It records all your data and every point along your route. So, at any one time you can see all your stats (ie. speed, cadence (if you have the cadence sensor), heart rate, power output, percent grade, etc. The ability to see instantaneous data is an invaluable training too and pushed us to push harder.
You can also “play” back your ride using the Player, which is very slick. the ride route is laid over an interactive Google Maps view. The website allows us to save our rides, name them, as well as share them with others. How cool is that!!
Overall, we found the Garmin Edge 800 to be an excellent product in the market of data capture devices/cyclometers for cycling. It has some powerful features that are friendly for everyone to use. You do not have to be a computer genius to operate one of these. We love the fact that this product can be used with others, as mentioned earlier, to maximize the possible data potential. Garmin has spent the last 20 years developing technologies and innovations to enhance users’ lives. Garmin has become a household name when it comes to GPS technology in the automotive, aviation, marine, wireless, outdoor and fitness industries. They are a trusted name that will be around for a long time.
The Garmin Edge 800 combines the most popular aspects of the Edge 500 and the industry-leading Edge 705 while adding an intuitive touchscreen interface to the user. We think this will become a popular ‘must have’ for cycling enthusiasts.