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Old 06-20-12, 02:49 PM   #1
DougG
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Garmin 800 vs. 705

I need to replace my 705, which I recently lost (@#%^ mount!), so am looking at either another 705 or the newer 800. The one thing that I read in another forum that bothers me about the 800 is that the screen is supposedly dim and you have to have the backlight on much of the time, which drains the battery.

With my 705, I pretty much just used it for displaying multiple data fields and I don't recall ever needing a backlight except for a couple of early morning rides. Is the 800 that much different? I'd hate to have a screen that washes out in sunlight like my cell phone does!

The other interesting difference in shopping around is that it looks like I can get an 800 cheaper than a 705, even though the 705 is "obsolete" from Garmin's viewpoint. What's up with that? I only need the basic unit since I still have my HRM strap and cadence sensors.

One other question: can the 800 still hold 8 data fields on the screen at once?
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Old 06-20-12, 09:37 PM   #2
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I just made the move from the 705 to the 800 this past weekend. Just to be clear, the reason I upgraded was because I was having trouble navigating new routes on the 705 after I upgraded the firmware to 3.3. I tried to reformat the drive, but I ended up bricking the 705 and would have had to send it back to Garmin for a repair. So instead of paying for the repair I spent the money for the 800, and I am glad that I did.

The display is dimmer than previous devices (I've owned the 305 and 705), however while riding for a few hours today I had no problem seeing the screen. I think that if I were riding later in the day, into dusk there might be issues clearing seeing the screen, but during normal daylight no issues.

I do think the 705 is no longer being supported. You can get it repaired, but I believe the 3.3 firmware is the last update you'll see for the unit. Plus, in my experience, the navigation is fickle. While loading a 28 mile GPX route the 705 would take 10-15 minutes to finish calculating, and although it did give me turn by turn directions there were times where the alerts didn't happen. The 800 handles navigation differently. Best I can tell (I've had the 800 3 days now) is that the 800 automatically converts the .TCX and/or .GPX nav file into the Garmin .FIT file format. That seems to load much faster and the turn by turn works perfectly, alerting you to a turn .12 miles in advance. I am very pleased with the mapping and the displays.

I bought the full package, although I probably could have saved a little cash by going with the device only. But I wanted another heart strap (my old one is getting a little gnarly) and the full package came with the City Navigator NT micro SD card. The cost for the device alone is about $450 and does not come with maps. If the mapping and navigation is important to you then you will need the City Navigator, or you use open source maps which you can google search and find a link for those. I have no experience with the open source but many have reported that they work fine.

You can have up to 10 data fields per page, and I think you can have up to 5 bikes in the bike list. Again I am very happy with the upgrade. Hope this helps, good luck.
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Old 06-21-12, 08:55 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by kenmcchord View Post
The display is dimmer than previous devices (I've owned the 305 and 705), however while riding for a few hours today I had no problem seeing the screen. I think that if I were riding later in the day, into dusk there might be issues clearing seeing the screen, but during normal daylight no issues.
Thanks for a very complete and well-stated reply!

I guess my issue is whether the screen is readable in bright daylight without having to use the backlight. Some people talk about setting the backlight to go off after a time period, but that seems unworkable to me; if I'm using it to monitor my speed or cadence, I certainly don't want to have to touch the screen every time I want to read it. So does it seem good enough in daylight with the backlight off?

The other display issue could be glare on the screen, which might go along with it being a touchscreen. Have you had any glare issues? Do you have a screen-protector installed? I have an excellent non-glare protector on my smartphone and wonder if they make something like it for the Edge.
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Old 06-21-12, 10:46 AM   #4
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I've had a 705 for 2.5 years or so and have been looking at the 800 ever since it came out. For me, there is no identifiable reason to switch. It offers nothing in the way of performance of operational features that would be of value to me, and the poor screen contrast is a real negative. It's taken me a while to figure out and learn to work and live with the 705's bugs and idiosyncrasies and the 800 would simply be trading those for new ones. I plan on waiting until the next version comes out, a competitor comes out with something better, or my 705 goes TU.

Check out the Garmin's official users' forums for more info: https://forums.garmin.com/forumdisplay.php?f=20
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Old 06-22-12, 05:45 AM   #5
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FWIW, I drove down to REI yesterday and they were helpful enough to power one on and let me take it outside to see what it looked like in full daylight. It was not nearly as bad as I was expecting, so I think I'm going to go with it, but I couldn't get it from them since all they had in stock was the high-end bundle and I don't need all the sensors, etc.

REI of course sells them at full retail ($449 for the basic unit), but I'm actually getting ~10% off that with next year's member dividend payout. Also, it's covered under their 100% satisfaction guarantee, so I could use it on an upcoming multi-day tour and if I decide I don't like it, I can return it and look for a used 705.
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Old 06-22-12, 10:22 AM   #6
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Use the REI credit card and get 15% back. You get 5% back on sales items that don't get the normal 10% dividend. And you can return anything at any time for any reason, only your conscience being the limiting factor.
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Old 06-23-12, 06:30 AM   #7
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I was an early adopter of the 705, and have lusted over the 800 since it came out. I upgraded Mrs.T's garmin from 305 to 800 when my LBS put them on sale, so now I have serious lust. For me, the big reasons are screen (bigger is better, I'm a numbers guy: more fields per page and more pages, yum) and mount (I'd like to be able to SWAP garmins with her on our tandem so I can see what she's doing and she can see what I'm doing, can't do that with 705/800).
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Old 06-23-12, 07:39 AM   #8
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I was an early adopter of the 705, and have lusted over the 800 since it came out. I upgraded Mrs.T's garmin from 305 to 800 when my LBS put them on sale, so now I have serious lust. For me, the big reasons are screen (bigger is better, I'm a numbers guy: more fields per page and more pages, yum) and mount (I'd like to be able to SWAP garmins with her on our tandem so I can see what she's doing and she can see what I'm doing, can't do that with 705/800).
Are you saying that you're using two Garmins at the same time on your tandem? I would hope that they are reading the same for speed & cadence. :-)
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Old 06-23-12, 08:41 AM   #9
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My friend has a tandem and he and his wife have two 800s that they use. Seems like a bit of over kill, but to each their own.

Just rode a late afternoon hill ride yesterday in Philadelphia, we managed to beat the thunderstorms. On the ride back to the Art Museum it was getting nasty dark with a few lightning strikes flashing behind us. I had on script sunglasses and it was after 6:30, yet I had no problem seeing and reading the screen. Many of the data fields use much larger fonts and it will completely readable, add to that I don't have the best eyesight going.

The navigation worked perfectly. Our ride was one that we mapped out on ridewithgps and we had yet to have ever rode the course before. We had no issues with the navigation. The 800 is a clear winner for me.
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Old 06-23-12, 11:17 PM   #10
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Are you saying that you're using two Garmins at the same time on your tandem? I would hope that they are reading the same for speed & cadence. :-)
We ride a da Vinci, so cadence isn't always the same. More importantly, HR is rarely the same, and power is essentially never the same. Going up a hill, I might be too busy steering to look down, but she could tell me my power is beyond a level that I can sustain for the hill, and/or that my HR has pegged. Cruising along, I might hear heavy breathing over the intercom, and would like to know what her HR/effort is. We have "matching" CycleOps Joule computers as well, so we aren't losing a view of our own actions if we want; I prefer the power data displays that it offers, but for now I've decided to swap the Joules instead of the Garmins.

Back to the model differences, I do also lust for the higher performance of the 800 when asking it to navigate. I've seen my 705 bomb out and do a complete restart after hanging during a route calculation. Her 800 was happily guiding us, and always has.

Edit: my intention of saying cadence isn't always the same was situations where I decide to coast but she's still pedaling. If I have a reading of her cadence, I can make intelligent shifting decisions without having to wait for her to request them.

Last edited by p2templin; 06-23-12 at 11:18 PM. Reason: Clarification on cadence differences.
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Old 06-24-12, 11:10 PM   #11
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I have a Garmin Edge 800, or rather Garmin has it. Second unit in 18 months and it has gone back to them. Anyway during the day commuting I tend to ride with the backlight set to about three bars but on tour or on Audax rides where I need to last longer I turn the backlight off. It is okay with the backlight off but better with a couple bars of backlight. If you plan to do long rides (say over 12 to 15 hours between charges) I guess it would be advantageous to go with the backlight off.

Oh BTW I understand that the 2012 Christmas in Garmin land will be a special one. You might want to hold on the buy decision

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Old 06-25-12, 06:41 AM   #12
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Oh BTW I understand that the 2012 Christmas in Garmin land will be a special one. You might want to hold on the buy decision
Spill it, or it didn't happen.
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Old 06-25-12, 06:46 AM   #13
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Spill it, or it didn't happen.
Well it is not Christmas yet. That is all I know. The retailer who passed on this tidbit is locked up by a MOU.

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Old 06-26-12, 03:13 AM   #14
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Garmin 800 vs. 705

I upgraded my Garmin 305 to the 800 and I have no problem reading it with no backlight on. The contrast is adjustable, so change it to your liking. My Stoker now uses the 305.
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Old 06-26-12, 06:52 PM   #15
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I may be able to finally contribute something useful to a discussion.....

I've had an Edge 800 since last October. I often ride in the very early morning hours (I'm talking 4 or 5 am). With no light you need the backlight to see anything. I have the 800 set up to go dim after two minutes. A simple tap on the screen brings on the backlight and everything is very clear. During the day, the screen is VERY readable and I don't worry about the backlight at all. I'm very happy with the unit and highly reccomend it to anyone who asks.
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