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  1. #1
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Anyone using the Garmin Edge 800 while touring?

    I’m going to buy the Garmin Edge 800 or the Edge 500 soon. I like having a bike computer for fitness riding and the reviews on the Edge 500 look promising. The Garmin Edge 800 seems to be far less popular, but I’m attracted to the map and direction feature that the Edge 800 has.

    My concern is that the Garmin Edge 800 is more costly and more complex to use without the added real world benifit. While I understand that the direction function has voice prompts, is it really better than a detailed route plan and maps? I would want to carefully plan my route in advance in any case. Plus, battery life is an issue, but I could charge it while eating at a restaurant twice a day.

    I hope that a few BF touring members have used a Garmin Edge 800 and can provide guidance. Does the Garmin Edge 800 provide enough benifit over the 500 while touring?
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 03-16-12 at 10:35 AM.
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  2. #2
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    I tour with a Garmin Edge 705, the previous high-end GPS model from Garmin. I'm not sure that I'd use voice guidance, but I do like having the 705 direct me along my pre-planned route. I find it especially useful in cities where the routing tends to be a bit more complex and you also have to watch for traffic. I've also found the arrival time estimation to be fairly accurate and useful. Riding through Big Sur, I found myself stopping to take pictures around every corner. When the Garmin started predicting that I was going to end up riding after dark I knew I had to be a bit more judicious with my time. When on tour, I try to charge the Garmin once a day, but realistically it could probably go for 2+ days without needing a charge.

    I will point out that there are some limitations to the Edge 705. The screen is decent, but can be difficult to read if the sun is shining directly on it. Entering destinations on the Edge itself is a bit cumbersome due to the lack of a keyboard. It's routing is about what you'd expect from a computer: it will get you from Point A to Point B, but it won't necessarily pick the most scenic, car-free (or flat!) route; this is why I typically plan my routes in advance and upload them to the Garmin before leaving. Finally, on the Edge 705, there's no easy way to return to your starting point via the shortest available route. If you're 28 miles into a 30-mile circular route, the "Return to Start" function will have you riding the route for 28 miles in reverse. Your only options are to enter the starting address manually or to save the location before you start riding. This isn't really a problem for touring, but when I get caught by rain the middle of a training ride, I'm always annoyed that there isn't an easier way to get home!

    In the end, I'm a big fan of Garmin's GPS-based bicycle computers. Then again, I'm also a fan of disc brakes, 10-speed drive-trains, and wouldn't use a Brooks B17 for anything but a penny farthing...

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    nope. map and compass.. batteries never fail.

  4. #4
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    I also have the 705. Battery life is an issue with any of these garmin bike computers, if you're going to bring it on tour as your bike computer, have a second computer and a map.

    The mapping is useful in a city, but not perfect - I've gotten mis-routed and had to backtrack before with my 705.

    I would say, if you want one of these garmins for sure for non-touring use, the 800's mapping would be a nice added benefit both on tour and for regular rides. I'm happy to have that mapping on the 705, and I do use it for regular day-rides when I'm somewhere i don't know my way around. The 500 would be worse than useless on tour, as it doesn't have any mapping, so it's just a really expensive bike computer that needs to be charged daily. Personally, if the money wasn't an issue I would choose the 800.

    The other pseudo-problem I have with these things is that I'm a data geek, and if I have the garmin with me on tour I want to gather the data for all the rides so I can put it in my electronic logs (sport tracks, wko+) - so I end up feeling like the damn thing is a burden, that I have to keep it charged so I get my data. I would rather organize my tour around the external world than my data gathering requirements, so i have to fight a stupid little mental battle with myself about that. Obviously this is my problem, not garmin's.
    ...

  5. #5
    Bike touring webrarian
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    When I was thinking about using a bike GPS, I went to REI, bought one, played with it for a few days, and, when I decided that it wasn't for me, returned it for a full refund.

    You might try the same thing, just to make sure you like it.
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  6. #6
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    When I was thinking about using a bike GPS, I went to REI, bought one, played with it for a few days, and, when I decided that it wasn't for me, returned it for a full refund.

    You might try the same thing, just to make sure you like it.
    Great idea. Performance Bike also has a liberal return policy. Both REI & Performance have competitive pricing, also.
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  7. #7
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    Disclaimer - I don't do a lot of touring, the bulk of my riding is commuting, or weekend fun rides. I have an edge 800 which I use primarily on my fast weekend bike.

    I live in San Jose, and when the NAHBS show came to Sacramento a couple of weeks ago, I decided to ride up there, which was a 2 day ride. I planned a route, balancing what I thought would be pretty with the total distance etc. Had way too much fun making all of those decisions. Anyway, on the second day, I am riding along and my route has me crossing a river on a bridge - and when I get to the bridge, it is closed - it was all wrapped up and they were removing lead paint and repainting it. The workers advised me to go back 8 miles, cross the river at the next bridge, then come up the other side of the river - which would have added 16 miles to what was already not a fun day (I was battling headwinds all day long, and was much later than I wanted to be at this point.) Long story short, just punching my destination into the Garmin 800, it recalculated the route for me with no problems. I could have done the same thing with a map, but the electronic version was definitely very easy.

    The batteries last plenty long for touring, assuming you have a way to recharge overnight - I have never had mine die during the day, and have had days where I was riding for 12+ hours.

  8. #8
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    charging

    can Garmins be recharged with a ZAGG?

  9. #9
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I use the Dakota 10, the cousin of the Edge series... No heart rate or cadence beeps though but similar software to the Edge and it routes. What I like about the Dakota is that it takes AA batteries.

  10. #10
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    I have been thinking of upgrading my Garmin Nuvi 1300. It is very nice and I like the features it gives me but I think I would like to program routes. The 1300 only allows waypoints and not routes. When you program a destination, you can either choose between the fastest route or the most direct. All of the other information is just amazing but I think the Garmin Zumo 665 is the way to go......just awsome. It is intended for Motorcycles and is waterproof. You can also buy an XM radio subscription with it and get 170 digital radio channels to listen to while you ride. The mount is already compatable with my mount for the 1300 so I should be able to switch over easily. I power my Nuvi 1300 with an external battery which is equiped with a USB port and I can power my GPS for up to 14 hours. The battery is an Energizer 8000 mA Lithium Polymer battery. They also make a 16,000 mA version. Here are some links and pictures. For now I am happy with the 1300 and haven't decided to fork out the $800 for the Zumo but it's at the back of my mind and I know its the way to go.......in style.

    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=135&pID=65203

    http://www.energizerpowerpacks.com/us/products/xp8000/
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Aushiker's Avatar
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    I cannot compare the Garmin Edge 800 against the 500 as I don't have a 500 but I do use my Garmin Edge 800 on tour. I also carry maps. My approach is to to plan out my general route using something like RidewithGPS and/or paper maps (street or topographical as appropriate) and then I load my planned route on the Edge 800. On the road I tend to use the Garmin Edge and/or the paper maps depending on the ride. Sometimes the map is sufficient but sometimes I am going into bush areas where I may have maps that are old and the roads have changed (happened recently due to mining) or I decide to change my route on the road and this is where the Garmin can come in handy to allow me to plot a new route there and then as it can pinpoint my location (handy in the middle of the bush).

    The other reason I use the Garmin is I like the numbers (data) and having a track of my ride for uploading later.

    Maps are also good for the big picture/escape routes particularly on the off-road/bush tours that I like doing.

    So for me there are pluses with both options and so I use both.

    Andrew

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    I have the Edge 705. Though I haven't really used it for turn by turn guidance for rides/tours (except to find groceries), it's invaluable to me for the map view. There have been a few times when the route I plotted on my printed maps caused me problems and the flexibility of being able to scroll through an area helped get me on another track. I'm uncertain about the battery life for the Edge 800, but a small Solio charger kept my 705 going through 2 full days with power to spare.

  13. #13
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    I have the 500 and love it, but I wish I had the 800 whenever I get lost.

  14. #14
    www.Click-Stand.com tomn's Avatar
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    I used a Garmin 705 for a cross county tour, and thought that it was often a big help. I also carried maps, which helped one time when I couldn't recharge the GPS. I now have an 800, which I think is easier to use.
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  15. #15
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I've used my 500 on short credit-card tours without any problems.

    I wouldn't use it on unsupported camping tours without a reliable source of power -- which would have to be shared with all your other electronic goodies.

    You can load courses into the 500, it just doesn't have street names. As long as you can follow simple instructions (left, right, straight) you won't get lost. If you go off course, the device lets you know what direction to get back on course, as well as your off-course route. If you ever do get seriously lost, you can either refer to a map, a smartphone, or a friendly passerby.

    To be on the safe side you might want to keep your pre-loaded courses below 50 miles each, as the 500 tends to crash with very long courses.

    With the 800, keep in mind the maps need to be updated as they would on a regular GPS. I believe nowadays Garmin is doing "lifetime updates" on their new units, so you'd get the Continental US included. That means you'd have to buy any international maps you happen to need.

  16. #16
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    I've used my Edge 800 on a tour in the Netherlands and on hundreds of shorter rides. I find it's quite useful, with some caveats. Here's a lengthy review, which I originally wrote as a post to a mailing list and that was subsequently revised for publication on sheldonbrown.com, which John S. Allen is now maintaining. He hasn't had time to post it there yet. By the way, the 800 does not have voice prompts; it beeps, but you have to glance at the screen to see turn instructions.

    Comments on the Garmin Edge 800
    by Brian Ogilvie (http://www.pobox.com/~ogilvie)
    Version 1.1, 2011-11-28

    The Garmin Edge 800 is a GPS-enabled cycle computer that also provides mapping and routing functions. It is not quite a full-fledged handheld GPS unit, lacking a digital compass and a few other features. But it comes very close and for road cyclists it can replace a GPS and a cycle computer. (Note: except for the mapping functions, I think most of these comments apply to Garmin's GPS-enabled Edge 500 cycle computer too.)

    The Edge 800 provides a wide range of information about your ride: instantaneous speed, average speed, distance, lap distance, total time, lap time, elapsed time (total time including stops), altitude, grade, total elevation climbed/descended, temperature, and probably a few things I'm forgetting. You can create (only!) 3 bike profiles [update, 2012-03-18: the most recent firmware allows 5 profiles], each of which has its own weight and odometer. With optional heart rate and speed/cadence sensors, the Edge 800 will also display your instantaneous heart rate, average heart rate, speed, and cadence. It works with ANT+ power monitors, too; unlike some of Garmin's other GPS-based exercise monitors, it can take speed-only and cadence-only sensors, as long as they are ANT+ units. If you need more data than this, you are probably on a stationary cycle in a lab.

    You can set up three different screens to display as much or as little of this information as you wish. The fewer fields you show, the larger the display is. There's also a map screen, and if you're following a course, a course time/distance screen and any turn-by-turn directions. The 800 also shows an elevation profile of where you have ridden, and if you are following a pre-programmed course that includes elevation data, it will also show you what lies ahead. It comes pre-loaded with several workouts, and you can define your own. You can use a variety of mapping programs to define courses, which you can then follow on the bike. With the right maps loaded, you can also use the unit for routing and guidance, like an automobile GPS--but no digital voice, just a soft beep alerting you to turn information on the screen.

    Pros: The Edge 800 is easy to switch between bikes, since there are no sensors to install or move (unless you use optional speed, cadence, and power sensors). The quarter-turn mount lets you attach and remove the computer quickly, but it also holds the computer securely to the bike. The screen offers large numbers, with customizable display of the fields that most interest you. You can set it to auto-start when you take off, and auto-stop when you stop moving, or if you're doing randonneuring you can set it so that its averages include stops. The deluxe heart rate monitor strap is quite comfortable (it's elastic cloth with a couple of small plastic patches; the transmitter snaps off so that the strap can be hand washed).

    If you're into counting calories, the Edge 800 uses several algorithms to estimate how many you've used, depending on how much data it has available. It uses your weight, your bike's weight (based on the active bike profile), distance, and speed; if you have the heart rate sensor, it also factors in your actual heart rate and your maximum and resting rates; and if you have the power sensor, it takes that into account too. If you're used to calorie estimates from simple heart rate monitors, you'll probably find that the Edge 800 gives a lower number, which is probably much more accurate!

    Cons: Accuracy varies depending on location. Garmin's GPS receivers are now accurate to within about 10 feet in ideal conditions. If you are in a city or a forest, accuracy drops somewhat. That means that the speed displayed on the computer will fluctuate. Under open skies, my 800 fluctuates about 1.5 mph up and down. In heavily wooded areas, the fluctuation can be more like 5-6 mph, depending on density of trees, the nature of the terrain, and cloud cover. The speedometer tends to read low in those conditions: I can be going along at about 15 mph and the speedometer might read 8 or 9 mph.

    Since I rarely care about my immediate speed, the fluctuations don't bother me. If they bother you, you can get an optional speed and cadence sensor from Garmin, or one of the ANT+ speed sensors from Bontrager or another company. Obviously you'd need one of the sensors for every bike you wanted it on. You then use the Edge's GPS features to calibrate the sensor (no rollouts necessary!); the Edge then uses the sensor to give you your speed, but it still uses GPS to track your ride. Note: you can't use both the speed and cadence features of the Garmin sensor on a Friday, because the cranks are too far forward of the rear wheel; it's possible to modify the sensor if you don't mind cutting it in two and soldering an extra length of wire. Or you can buy a separate ANT+ cadence sensor; the 500 and 800 work with multiple sensors. I've seen multiple complaints on bike forums that the Garmin sensor's reed switch for the speed function is prone to breaking, but those who have contacted Garmin USA report that their units have been replaced under warranty.

    Other observations: Garmin's GPS sensor locks on fairly quickly, usually within 20 seconds of being turned on, unless you're inside. It saves your last location and starts its search from that. Hence, if you travel with the unit turned off, it can take up to a couple minutes to find your location because it has to do a more thorough search for the satellites. I usually turn my Edge on before loading water bottles and verifying tire pressure and chain condition; by the time I've done that it's ready to roll. If I'm in a new city, I turn it on while getting dressed and set it on a windowsill so it can get a fix on the position.

    Some people have complained about the resolution of the Edge 800's touchscreen, which is lower than that of its predecessor, the Edge 705. Not having used a 705, I think the 800's screen is fine. The touchscreen is easy to use and can be locked with the power button (handy if you're carrying the unit in a pocket). The backlight is adequate to good. The one difficulty I've encountered is that the light blue color that the unit uses to indicate a course on the map can be hard to see, especially if you're wearing amber sunglasses.

    GPS routing is not as good as on an auto unit; my guess is that the Edge 800's microprocessor is optimized for low power use, not processing power. It works best over short distances. If you deviate from the calcuated route, it will recalculate, but not necessarily very well. And it is only as good as the maps; see the note at the bottom on mapping. If you are following a pre-programmed course that is set up as a GPX track or as a TCX file (Garmin's proprietary format), any turn directions will depend on what you programmed into the course file.

    Because GPS and backlighting use a lot more power than a simple cyclocomputer, battery life is measured in tens of hours (Garmin claims up to 15 hours, but I find that 12-14 hours is more realistic; the Edge 500 is rated for 18 hours). That means you need to remember to recharge your computer regularly. It's not like a cyclocomputer where you change batteries once or twice each season. You can buy a cheap USB battery as a backup power source. And it will charge from your computer when you connect it to download your route data; if I've been out for a short ride (under 2 hours), half an hour of being connected to the computer will recharge it fully.

    The Garmin Training Center software, into which you can download your data for storage and analysis, is fairly basic, at least on the Macintosh. I use it mostly to archive data in case my unit conks out. Garmin's free Connect website is somewhat more useful; third-party sites such as Strava, Training Peaks, MapMyRide, and (just getting started) RideWith GPS can also download and analyze data from the Edge.

    I like my 800 and feel like I have gotten my money's worth from it. I use the mapping feature while touring or following unfamiliar routes. It's not quite a full-fledged GPS unit, though: for example, it doesn't have a real digital compass in it. If you don't need the mapping features, the 500 would be a good choice.

    DC Rainmaker has posted in-depth reviews of these and other Garmin GPS products on his website at: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/

    The Garmin forum for the Edge 800 is also useful, keeping in mind that most people go to the forum only when they have a problem, and that the vibe therefore tends to be negative:
    https://forums.garmin.com/forumdisplay.php?f=245

    NOTE ON MAPPING: Garmin's commercially available road maps, which are designed for use by motor vehicles, lack most bicycle paths, rail trails, multi-use paths, and other facilities that are open to bikes but not to cars. In many parts of the world, free maps based on the OpenStreetMap.org project work better, though there is something of a learning curve to using the most comprehensive of them. Some people, especially in Europe, have created OSM-based maps that are optimized for cycling. The VeloMap.org maps are the most comprehensive but the last time I tried them, they took a fair amount of work to compile and load. I think their creator now allows you to subscribe to his site and get precompiled maps. Other maps are better; in particular, the FietsMap of the Benelux countries, and the OSM-based bike map of Switzerland, are both excellent, free solutions if you're cycling in those countries. If you're going to rely on OSM-based maps, I suggest that you compare the OSM map of the area where you'll be with commercially produced maps (such as Google's or Bing's maps) to see how the coverage compares. In major cities, OSM is usually great; in the countryside it can be iffy, especially in countries where national map datasets are copyrighted.

    Information on using OpenStreetMap-based maps with Garmin products is at:
    http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin

    Websites where you can upload and analyze data from your Edge include:
    http://connect.garmin.com/
    http://www.strava.com/
    http://www.trainingpeaks.com/
    http://www.mapmyride.com/
    http://ridewithgps.com/

    NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST: I have no financial interest in Garmin that I'm aware of, though it is possible that one of my mutual funds has Garmin shares. My Edge 800 was a personal purchase with my own funds.

  17. #17
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    Hi brianogilvie, thanks, this is a comprehensive look at the 800. Have you looked at the eTrex Legend HCx/Vista HCx, the 20 and the 30? if you are looking just for the mapping features on a bike? Looks like the ACA forum guys use these over the expensive 800? I am trying to find out the difference. Is it just that the 800 includes a map and in the other products you have to enter the waypoints or is there some other distinct advantage with buying the 800? sorry for the deviation, OP...

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    Many of you already have a GPS in your car and you can simply buy a mount for it at a very low cost. Powering the unit is the trick.

    http://www.mountguys.com/product_p/mfx125-gn.htm

  19. #19
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    I'd love one around home.... love my 305 and I'm sure I would enjoy an 800 even more for local training rides. As for touring, if i was really worried about getting lost I would just pull out my phone with built in Gps to get me unlost.... then back to the map. I've been very lost in the past while on longer tours. Wish I'd had something to confirm my feeling of being lost when in fact I was.... This was before I had a phone with this ability. Plus, having to worry about one more thing to keep charged would just not be worth it to me.
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  20. #20
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    Hi Indianashawn, thanks for the link - very useful for my 2595. But like you said w/o power a car GPS has a short life, mine lasts only 4 hours. If you have a magical product, maybe a battery pack that can keep it powered let me know. It was too late to install a powered hub and the USB output.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFGary View Post
    Hi Indianashawn, thanks for the link - very useful for my 2595. But like you said w/o power a car GPS has a short life, mine lasts only 4 hours. If you have a magical product, maybe a battery pack that can keep it powered let me know. It was too late to install a powered hub and the USB output.
    I use this..........http://www.energizerpowerpacks.com/us/products/xp8000/

    It powers my GPS for about 14 hours.

    I had bought the Charging kit a few years ago and it included this USB adapter. This is the tricky part. When you plug it in to the computer, it goes into a computer mode as if you are updating it or loading waypoints via the Garmin software. If you use this little 90 degree adapter first then it goes into a regular mode as if you plugged it into your cigerette lighter 12 volt power supply. I don't understand the complete reason for this but it is needed for the bicycle setup. Plus it gives me a good angle to plug it in. I have looked for the same kit and I don't even know if its offered anymore. Again, I don't understand why.


    UPDATE: I found the kit with the adapter.........here ya go............ http://www.scosche.com/consumer-tech/product/2170
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by IndianaShawn; 03-18-12 at 06:08 PM. Reason: Update found the kit

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaShawn View Post
    I use this..........http://www.energizerpowerpacks.com/us/products/xp8000/

    It powers my GPS for about 14 hours.

    I had bought the Charging kit a few years ago and it included this USB adapter. This is the tricky part. When you plug it in to the computer, it goes into a computer mode as if you are updating it or loading waypoints via the Garmin software. If you use this little 90 degree adapter first then it goes into a regular mode as if you plugged it into your cigerette lighter 12 volt power supply. I don't understand the complete reason for this but it is needed for the bicycle setup. Plus it gives me a good angle to plug it in. I have looked for the same kit and I don't even know if its offered anymore. Again, I don't understand why.


    UPDATE: I found the kit with the adapter.........here ya go............ http://www.scosche.com/consumer-tech/product/2170

    That's strange. From the pic that right angle connector looks either like a male (small) and female (large) mini USB connector. Maybe I am wrong? Also if we just look at a car cigarette lighter charger like all GPS units have, all it does is provide power but with a mini USB connector and more importantly the GPS still works. If we duplicate that with an external battery pack with a mini USB output it should do the same, I'll hasten to add that I am not an electronics guru, nor do I want to fry the GPS. There's no harm in getting an external battery pack and trying it out if I can use my Car GPS then I can save $650 for the Edge800... in any case I'll check out the Scosche product as well. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by SFGary View Post
    That's strange. From the pic that right angle connector looks either like a male (small) and female (large) mini USB connector. Maybe I am wrong? Also if we just look at a car cigarette lighter charger like all GPS units have, all it does is provide power but with a mini USB connector and more importantly the GPS still works. If we duplicate that with an external battery pack with a mini USB output it should do the same, I'll hasten to add that I am not an electronics guru, nor do I want to fry the GPS. There's no harm in getting an external battery pack and trying it out if I can use my Car GPS then I can save $650 for the Edge800... in any case I'll check out the Scosche product as well. Thanks

    The adapter has a female to male MINI USB 90 degree angle. Both are mini including the female part of the adapter. And yes, the car power cord with the male mini USB that plugs into the back only provides power but the USB to mini cord provides data transfer AND power. With the little adapter it allows you to plug the GPS into a USB source and power the unit without it going into data transfer mode and allowing you to charge or power it directly. I don't use my computer with the GPS very often and I haven't updated the maps since mine didn't come with a lifetime update package. I also haven't managed waypoints for a long long time either. If this Garmin model 1300 had programable routes, I would be hooking it up to my computer all the time and downloading routes/GPS cordinates off of the web.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I wouldn't use it on unsupported camping tours without a reliable source of power -- which would have to be shared with all your other electronic goodies.
    SON 28 dynamo and a PedalPower Super-i-Cable resolve that issue



    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakdiver View Post
    I'd love one around home.... love my 305 and I'm sure I would enjoy an 800 even more for local training rides. As for touring, if i was really worried about getting lost I would just pull out my phone with built in Gps to get me unlost.... then back to the map. I've been very lost in the past while on longer tours. Wish I'd had something to confirm my feeling of being lost when in fact I was.... This was before I had a phone with this ability. Plus, having to worry about one more thing to keep charged would just not be worth it to me.
    The nice thing about a GPS unit is that the maps are pre-loaded. Often when I'm lost and want to check my phone, I'm in an area where cell coverage is bad and it's impossible to download map data or it takes so long that you wouldn't want to wait for the process to complete...

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