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  1. #1
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Buying Garmin Edge 800-questions

    I want the Garmin Edge 800 for the cycling data as well as the map functions because I ride in unfamiliar areas rather frequently. But I have some questions:

    1. I am not very good with technology. Is the interface user friendly? Are there clear set up instructions and use instructions?

    2. I have heard that Garmin's customer support is not the best. I was thinking of buying a reconditioned unit through Amazon, which would save me a $100. But if I bought from REI and had problems I know I can return the unit easily. Thoughts on getting a reconditioned unit?

    3. I am unclear whether I need what is included in the bundled version for a couple of hundred dollars more. Can I get speed data without the speed/cadence sensor? How accurate is it? If I wanted to add a speed/cadence sensor later, how hard is it to do that? How about for multiple bikes? The heart monitor thing seems simple, provided that you have a compatible unit. Currently I do not as I use a Polar monitor. The bundle seems to include Garmin's maps for North America. Are there better choices that will work? I have long had a Garmin Nuvi in my car, the maps are only so so.

    Thanks for any thoughts you might have.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Street Pedaler's Avatar
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    1. It's pretty intuitive but you do have to move through a few menus while setting up how you want your screens to look. It's pretty easy to figure out, though.

    2. I've been fortunate in that I've not ever had to use Garmin CS. I can't answer that. However, PERSONALLY, I'm a little reluctant to by re-furbed electronics . But that's just me. If you're confident in REI, I'd maybe go that route.

    3. Yes, you can get speed data without the sensor. I can't speak to how accurate it is because I have the sensor. I don't think not having one would put you too far, if any, "off". Yes, you can add the sensor later. It's very, very easy to mount. Just put a magnet (included) on your spokes and mount the sensor to your chain stay with zip ties (also included). There's a set-up procedure involved in getting the sensor and GPS unit communicating but, again, the instructions are clear and it's very simple. The heart rate monitor is, for me, problem free. I've read complaints about the strap on some of the newer units not being very good but I have an older unit and love it. You don't have to use a Garmin heart rate monitor, though (or speed/ cadence sensor for that matter), any unit that is ANT+ compatible will work. I didn't get map packs with mine so, again, can't answer that one.

    If you get into a bind, there are a lot of people here who can talk you through. Really, though, it's not that tough a unit to learn your way around.

    Hope this helped.

  3. #3
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Thank you Street. I have bought various reconditioned products from other companies with excellent success, specifically various iPods and a computer. I figure that reconditioning gets bugs out.

  4. #4
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    I'm also considering an 800, specifically for the routing function. What I would like to know is if the 800 will accept a microSD card with European maps. Will it?

    As to the bundle, it looks like it is less expensive to purchase the heart rate strap and cadence sender separately than in the full bundle. My Edge 500 was like this, and from Amazon also. I saved quite a bit by getting the pieces separately. One word on the heart rate monitor, the deluxe heart rate strap is said to not be as good as the less expensive one. I use my old Bontrager heart rate strap because I get too many bogus readings with the Garmin one.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    1. I am not very good with technology. Is the interface user friendly? Are there clear set up instructions and use instructions?
    The User Manual is available on the Garmin website. Take a look and see what you think.

    Overall, I'd say that using the Edge 800 as a bike computer is pretty easy. Using navigation is slightly more difficult. If you were going to struggle with anything, I suspect it would be transferring data back and forth between the device and your computer. This includes creating routes on your computer and transferring them to the Edge 800 or grabbing the data from the Edge and moving it to your computer for analysis. Garmin's desktop software is terrible! Their Garmin Connect website is somewhat better, but not as full-featured as some of the 3rd-party desktop programs like Golden Cheetah or SportTracks.

    2. I have heard that Garmin's customer support is not the best. I was thinking of buying a reconditioned unit through Amazon, which would save me a $100. But if I bought from REI and had problems I know I can return the unit easily. Thoughts on getting a reconditioned unit?
    I find that Garmin Technical Support is pretty good about answering questions, based on the one call I've made to them. If you need a unit repaired or replaced, I would guess they're about as helpful as any other electronics company (read: not very). Seems like you're slightly unsure about the purchase, so buying from eBay or another vendor with a liberal return policy might not be a bad idea... I would be wary of buying a refurb that didn't have a warranty that was at least as long as a brand-new unit.

    3. I am unclear whether I need what is included in the bundled version for a couple of hundred dollars more. Can I get speed data without the speed/cadence sensor? How accurate is it? If I wanted to add a speed/cadence sensor later, how hard is it to do that? How about for multiple bikes? The heart monitor thing seems simple, provided that you have a compatible unit. Currently I do not as I use a Polar monitor. The bundle seems to include Garmin's maps for North America. Are there better choices that will work? I have long had a Garmin Nuvi in my car, the maps are only so so.
    Yes, you can get speed data without the speed/cadence sensor. It seems relatively accurate, as long as you have a good GPS signal. If you frequently ride in deep canyons, under heavy tree cover, or in areas with tall buildings you might not be able to get a reliable GPS signal. The GSC-10 can be found for around $40 online and is probably worth purchasing at some point. Personally, I think the heart rate strap is a "must purchase" accessory.

    As far as I can tell, Garmin's maps are about as good as anyones. The "base map" that comes with the unit is useless. Garmin's add-on maps seem to be as accurate as the maps in any other GPS unit that I've owned, including expensive car-based systems. The one shipped on a SD card is especially easy to use: just pop the card into the Garmin and go; no need to worry about transferring data from the computer to the device.

    If you don't want to use Garmin's maps, I believe there are ways to load the freely available Open Street Map data. No idea how accurate it is, but since it's free you can update whenever you want unlike Garmin where updates cost money.

  6. #6
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Thanks sstorkel. Maybe REI is the best because at least I get a dividend on the purchase. There isn't much if any price differential with new units.

    The bundle doesn't seem to make a lot of sense because I can buy each part separately for less than the bundle off of Amazon. And I don't have so many worries about returns with the accessories.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    I'd recommend the speed/cadence sensor. I lost my sensor before one ride on the tandem and at slow (climbing) speeds the speed jumped around quite a bit, but for navigation and almost all other functions I think you could do without. I can't speak to Garmin Connect, but with RidewithGPS they have made huge strides in the quality of the Garmin Nav files. I have been using a .tcx on the 800 and it seems to work very well. the touchscreen interface is light-years better than the buttons on the Garmin 705
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  8. #8
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    I have an Edge 500, and it is easier than most mini-electronics to use. You do need to page up/down through the menus, but it is easily mastered.

    I'd suggest going to the support forum on the Garmin site and browsing a bit. You'll quickly find where folks are having difficulty.

    For example, courses on the Edge 500 are very problematic and many, many folks are complaining about it. I have no idea if the same issue applies to the Edge 800 but by browsing the forum you'll find out.

    Lastly, many folks are reporting reliability issues with the Edge 500, and I found out first hand they weren't exaggerating when one of the buttons on mine gave up after a month of use. So now I have to send it in to garmin, which takes a couple weeks, which is really annoying for a pretty pricey gadget. I really wish I had bought mine at REI since I believe they will exchange it on the spot saving me the hassle of sending it to garmin, etc. So consider that.

    Adding the cadence/speed sensor is easy and I find the heart rate data to be VERY useful, but YMMV.

    Hope that helps.

  9. #9
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Thank you all. I have pretty much decided to buy at REI for the ease of returns if there is an issue.

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