Garmin announced the Garmin Edge 820 GPS cycling computer last month as the successor to the three year old Edge 810. Packed with new features like GroupTrack and advanced mapping in a small form factor, it’s Garmin’s most advanced cycling computer released to date.
Read on for our comprehensive review of the Garmin Edge 820 GPS cycling computer, you can click the links below to go straight to any section of the review.
The Garmin Edge 820 is available in two options, a bundle package that includes the Edge 820 device, a premium heart rate strap, cadence sensor, speed sensor, stem and front mounts as well as a USB charger plus tether and manuals. The second option is the device only package that is basically the bundle less the heart rate strap, cadence and speed sensors. If you already own ANT+ Heart rate, cadence and speed sensors then those will work fine with the device only package.
The cadence sensor and speed sensor are the magnet-less type that Garmin released in 2014.
The full Edge 820 bundle contents are pictured below.
The Garmin premium heart rate monitor.
And speed sensor, cadence sensor and out front mount.
On to the device itself the first thing you will notice is the Edge 820 is quite a bit smaller than the Garmin Edge 810 it replaces, the Edge 820 is almost identical in size to the Garmin Edge 510.
Compared to the outgoing Edge 810 the overall height of the new Edge 820 is 22% smaller than the Edge 810, while screen height size is 15 percent smaller.
And also compared to a Magellan Cyclo 505 and Polar V650, the Polar is near identical in size to a Garmin 1000.
The weight of the Garmin Edge 820 is 68 grams, exactly as per the specification.
Turning the Edge 820 on you will notice the home page user interface is completely redesigned having three big icons in the main part of the home screen to select Ride profile, Navigation or Training options, then below those three items are smaller Setting and IQ menu options in the bottom bar. The screen is a touch screen and you use it to select almost everything.
There’s also three standard buttons. The Top Left button turns the Edge 820 on and off, as well as sleep and lock screen options. The Bottom Left and Bottom Right are the start and lap buttons similar to the Edge 520.
Starting with the hardware first, the mounts included with the Edge 820 are either standard stem type mount or an out front mount. Pictured below is the Garmin front mount and also aftermarket options from K-Edge and Bar Fly. I prefer either of the Bar Fly or K-Edge aftermarket mounts as they keep the device within the front on profile of the handlebars rather than above it. You can see in the last two photos below what I mean (click thumbnails to enlarge).
If you use the stem mount it sits above the line of the handlebars anyway, so the raised out front mount may not be an issue for you.
And the K-Edge mount from side on.
The Cadence sensor and speed sensor are simple to mount, the cadence sensor has a band that wraps around the left crank arm to secure to the sensor pod. The speed sensor has a band attached that wraps around the rear hub. Pictures below of the sensors fitted.
Moving on to the device setup and like all Garmin cycling computers setup is pretty straight forward and use friendly. From the initial start you will select settings like language, metric or statute, time fomat, your personal details, then on to connect your sensors. If you bought the bundle then your sensors should be already paired with the device, for device only buyers the Edge 820 will sync to existing ANT+ sensors.
Setting up Bluetooth is next and with your phone handy select yes on the Edge 820 to setup Bluetooth then in your phones Bluetooth menu pair BT_Edge 820 first then BLE_Edge 820. Both will show in your phones Bluetooth menu as paired.
If you don’t already have a Garmin Connect account you will want to do the now then download the app, also register your device via Garmin express and setup the WiFi connection for updates. The Garmin Connect app and the Bluetooth connection to the Edge 820 enables the advanced features like GroupTrack, LiveTrack, Incident Detection and smart notifications.
GroupTrack is a pretty handy feature for meeting up with groups of friends where you’re arriving from different locations, or catching up with a bunch after taking a wrong turn or a puncture, etc. GroupTrack allows you to view on your map screen any of your Garmin Connect connections that have LiveTrack enabled. Friends don’t have to have a Garmin Edge 820 with GroupTrack, just a LiveTrack capable device.
GroupTrack is a new feature from Garmin that for now is only available on the Garmin Edge 820, early next year there will be and update for the Edge 1000 enabling GroupTrack as well.
LiveTrack has been supported on various Garmin devices for awhile and you can also do the setup for this in the Connect app, basically enter the contact names email addresses and / or Facebook or Twitter links for the LiveTrack link.
Connect IQ was enabled for Garmin Edge 520 and Edge 1000 devices in March and the Garmin Edge 820 gets the same access to Connect IQ apps, from these two links you can read the Connect IQ instructions and Edge 520 instructions, they are similar for the Edge 820.
Strava Live Segments also feature on the Edge 820, like the Edge 520 and Edge 1000 you get various visual and audio alerts and pages pop up as you near a segment then start a segment. I only use four segments in total and turn all the local popular segments off, it’s just too annoying for me. One thing I noticed before turning all the popular segments off is it was very hard to get out of the segment page, there’s two issues. The first was there doesn’t currently seem to be a dismiss button, and two, to try and swipe out of the screen you run into the screen sensitivity issue. More on that in the next section.
Like pretty much every Garmin I have ever bought the Edge 820 did what it was supposed to from the first ride, no GPS drop outs, no sensor or power drop outs and start, lap stop and all the menu options were well laid out. Most of my riding is done with the Edge 520 and with the Edge 820 being exactly the same size and the page data fields set up exactly the same you won’t really notice the difference between the two until you touch or swipe the touchscreen options of the Edge 820, instead of pressing buttons on the Edge 520.
Text and call notifications worked perfectly with an alert popping up on screen until you dismiss it, it would be great if Garmin could add WhatsApp and email notifications at some point, this was one of the features of the Wahoo Elemnt I liked.
The mapping is a major update from the Edge 520 and Edge 810 and in simple terms the mapping capabilities of the Edge 1000 have been compressed into this unit, the map screen is really easy to read and you can zoom in or out to suit. I will come back and update this section with some of the turn by turn navigation features.
Battery life is a claimed 15 hours and I managed to run mine all the way to about 14 hours and 20 minutes ride time but there was also some playing around with data screens and Garmin Connect setup that would have taken the battery life up to near 16 hours. There’s also a battery save mode that will extend battery life by up to 50%, it turns off the screen to save power.
The Edge 820 also gets the incident detection features of the Edge 1000 meaning if your device detects an accident it can send emergency messages to pre-programmed emergency contacts, I didn’t have an accident to test it out but set up all the contacts and information within the Garmin Connect app.
Rides updated to Garmin Connect within seconds of finishing a ride then on to any third party platform you have enabled like Strava, Ride with GPS, Training Peaks, etc. when using a power meter the Garmin will calculate a VO2 max score for you which you can track your progress in the Garmin Connect app
Which brings us to the touch screen, when i reviewed the Edge 520 I said it wasn’t a downgrade going back to buttons after the shockingly bad touchscreen of the Edge 510 (still a nice computer though). The Edge 820 is not there yet either and these are the issues.
You can activate menu options by hovering your finger as far away as 8mm from the screen, certainly as easily as 3-4mm away. That’s not ideal while riding and trying to select menu options.
Water drops can activate the menu items, it has to be reasonably heavy rain but the drops will activate the screen.
Surprisingly with the two over-sensitive issues with the screen it can be under-sensitive when wanting to get from one page to another or selecting menu options, quite often swipes wouldn’t or presses wouldn’t register.
I’m awaiting an email reply from Garmin on those issues and will update this section if there is a firmware update. I’m sure the issues can be resolved and it’s important to keep in mind this is still a very new device. It’s normal for all manufacturers models to get several early firmware updates.
There is no doubt for me that this is Garmin’s best GPS cycling computer to date, I’m a fan of the form factor of 5xx series computers so getting all the technology of the Edge 1000 and more is fantastic.
I was a little surprised with Garmin moving the Edge 820 down to the size of the Edge 520, I’ve shown the new Garmin Edge 820 to a few current Edge 810 owners and they didn’t like the new size. I wonder if a future update of the Edge 1000 will bring it back to around the old Edge 810 size, for me that’s a better ‘large’ size computer. Again, not an issue with me a I’ve always used the 5xx series sized computers and my eyesight is good.
GroupTrack, LiveTrack, Connect IQ, incident detection and Strava Live Segments all work well and show Garmin is continually innovating by adding performance and safety features, the Garmin Connect app has had welcome updates as well.
The touchscreen is not quite there yet and I’m hoping the issues can be resolved with a firmware update. That’s about the only thing I could fault with the device right now.
The Garmin Edge 820 is priced at USD $399 sitting exactly half way between the Edge 520 at USD $299 and Edge 1000 at USD $499, in Australia the Garmin Edge 820 is AUD $609 with the Edge 520 at AUD $449 and Edge 1000 at AUD $749.
After 3-4 weeks of riding with the Edge 820 there is not much I could fault, pretty much everything works as it should and confirms the Garmin Edge 820 as the most advanced GPS cycling computer on the market right now. Garmin sent me out the Edge 820 bundle to review, I’m sending that back shortly but I have also bought my own Edge 820. I can highly recommend the Edge 820.
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