Gear

Tech Update: Garmin releases new touchscreen Edge 800 GPS

Garmin's new Edge 800 cycling GPS unit offers more features — including a color touchscreen — than the minimalist Edge 500. But it's not much bigger.

Edge800maptilt2

Garmin has a new cycling GPS computer with a feature set somewhere between the minimalist Edge 500 and the feature-packed but much larger Edge 705. The 800 has some things neither of the others offer, too: a color touchscreen and new mapping options.

In initial VeloNews testing, the Edge 800 has performed well.

Set up is quite easy — including integration with a ANT+ power meter (not included) and a heart-rate strap (included in the higher priced model). To operate for the first time, simply turn it on, and toggle through a few quick questions of which features you’d like turned on. It automatically senses the included heart-rate strap, and in testing with a PowerTap wheel, quickly found a power signal, too. It takes a few moments to hunt down a satellite signal, and it uses that information to then track speed and distance.

The Edge 800’s 2.6-inch screen is larger than its predecessors.

Pressing on-screen arrows advances the computer through a few screens, each of which is easily configurable to your preference in terms of what information shows up where, and how large.

The altitude and corresponding gradient measurement readouts were jerky on the pre-production sample VeloNews received, but a Garmin spokesman said this issue has since been resolved.

Installation on the bike is super easy. The Edge 800 comes with cradles for two bikes and a pile of rubber straps. One strap holds the cradle in place, and the computer twists securely on to the cradle. Since there is no calibration required, the 800 can switch seamlessly between bikes regardless of wheel size.

Riders can upload data from the Edge 800 to the GarminConnect Web site for basic analysis.

Battery life is claimed at 15 hours. It charges via USB cable and an included AC adapter.

In price, the 800 is somewhere between the 500 and the 705. The black and white Edge 800 has a suggested retail of $450.  A black and blue model with a “Performance and Navigation” bundle is $650 (the bundle includes a heart-rate strap, speed/cadence sensor and City Navigator mapping on a microSD card).

Pick up the November issue of VeloNews late next month for a complete review of the Edge 800.