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  1. #1
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    Garmin Edge 200 and 500 comparisons

    Having used an Edge 200 for a while, then received a 500 as a present, I thought I would post my comparison between the two, for anybody who is interested in these devices.
    I got the Edge 200 first, to replace a traditional computer.

    The Edge 200 is extremely easy to set up, just turn it on and tell it your age, weight and whether your are a guy or a girl.
    Then you are good to go.
    The GPS speedometer is very accurate but can often lose signal under trees. The altimiter is GPS based and is not too accurate, often claiming I had climbed 35 feet before I set off!
    The display is easy to read and gives basic information (speed, distance, total ascent) and the bottom of the display can be set to read average speed, calories used or one other that I forgot (but not the time sadly) There is a backlight which can be set to stay on, so you can see it at night. The battery lasts at least twelve hours even with the backlight on continuously.
    If you mount the unit on the stem, the angle can make it hard to read the display if you are leaned forward on the bike.
    There is a clock but to access it you have to hold down a button for a second, to access a second screen, then press another button to return to your ride data.
    The Edge 500 looks the same, but has a display which you can set to show any function. You can select from one to eight fields, and there are three screens so you can have three different displays.
    I chose six on the first screen and four on the second, which gives a larger speed readout making it easier to see at a glance.
    The display seems better, in that you can mount the unit on the stem and still see it when leaning forward, say when climbing on the road out of the saddle.
    The backlight is the same, except it always defaults to "off" when you turn the unit on, where on the 200 it will come on, if you set it to continuous.
    On the 500 you have to press a button to turn the backlight on, even if you set it to continuous.
    The 500 has a heart rate monitor and this works well, it says you have to wet the sensor pads before you put it on, but I never do and it still works fine.
    The altimeter on the 500 is a barometric one, and is much more accurate. It always starts at zero when you turn it on.
    Both units will download data to a computer when you get home, and it is interesting to look at where you have been and how far you climbed, descended etc.
    The 500 can be set to update every second, which makes the distance more accurate. Although I have yet to do the same ride as I did with the 200, for comparison.
    It also has a clock and temperature readout which you can have on the main screen.
    When you set off it takes a while for the temperature reading to stabilize from what it was in your house!
    My 500 also came with a cadence sensor, but as yet I have not tried it out.

    In conclusion I would recommend the 500 mainly because you can tailor the display to your own preference, and you can get it to display the time on the main screen. Plus I could not fit the 200 to the stem on my Kona, due to the display being hard to read from in front (of the unit)

    But I would recommend the 200 over a traditional computer, as there is no need to install sensors, the backlight can be set to stay on at night, and the battery is rechargeable so more convenient (the battery failed on my Sigma and I lost all my data)

  2. #2
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    Some futher observations after spending more time with the Edge 500.

    Like the Edge 200, it can lose the GPS signal under trees. When this happens the unit estimates your speed until it regains a signal.

    The 500 is a bit more accurate in relation to ride distance, possibly due to the 1 second refresh rate on the GPS.

    Having said that, three of my friends have different non-GPS computers and each one of them reckons that one popular ride we do is a different distance anyway. The differences are between 1/4 and 1/2 a mile on an approx 10 mile ride.

    So who knows what the actual distance is, I would hazard a guess at around the 10 mile mark....

    I guess I could work it out on a map, but I am not sure it matters that much to me.

    My Edge 200 said it was 9.65 miles, the Edge 500 9.85, and the non-GPS computers 10.2, 10.5 and 10.7 miles!!

    The Edge 500 has a barometric altimeter. This needs to be calibrated before you use it the first time, or it can be wildly inaccurate!
    It thought my house was 1,000 feet above sea level when it is actually 500 feet.

    Once you set the altitude from the start point, it is accurate after that. This seems odd, as a "barometric" altimeter should surely know the altitude at the start point?
    But the information about setting the start altitude came from the Garmin website.....

    Anyway, once you download the ride to Garmin Connect you can correct the data, whether or not you set the altitude at the start point.

  3. #3
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    barometric altimeters cannot, by default, know the exact elevation when they start. There are a number of reasons why. First, air pressure varies not only by elevation, but also between weather systems. Barometric pressure differences cause a lot of our weather. Second, our planet is not a perfect shape of any kind, nor are the "sea levels" of different oceans the same between each other, at all times. The moon's gravity pulls at the water on our planet, which is what causes tides.

    It's all a very dynamic system so any measurement of elevation makes a certain set of assumptions about the planet. A single calibration won't cut it, either. The more frequently a barometric altimeter is calibrated, the more accurately it will report elevation. Obviously, there comes a point where the work required to reach a given level of accuracy becomes burdensome.

    Also, with regards to accuracy of linear measurements, a GPS will ALWAYS under-report distance compared to a properly calibrated computer with a wheel sensor. This is because every time the GPS drops a point, it assumes a straight line between points, rather than a curve. This is why more frequent point recording results in a more accurate track for mountain biking on twisty trails. The underestimation between each two points on a curve is very small, but when summed across a track of a couple hours, becomes a measurable difference. Reducing the amount of the underestimation by increasing the number of recorded points is the best you can do when measuring distances with a GPS.

    A bike computer with a wheel sensor is continuously measuring curves. Its accuracy will depend on how precisely it is calibrated. Which is why if you want the most accurate distance measurement with your Garmin, you should use a speed/cadence sensor with it. The data screen will preferentially report the data from the sensor when it is available, and save it to the data file. Some websites will ignore that data when reporting distance and instead favor calculating distance based on the GPS points, but it will be available for those sites and programs that will use it for reporting.

  4. #4
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    Yes, I guess the ideal would be a GPS with a wheel sensor.

    I am not that concerned about total accuracy, but others will be I am sure. The only problem with wheel sensors is you cannot be sure of the exact size of the wheel, as it depends on tyre size and pressure.

    I guess this is why my friend's computers all give different readings for our ride, despite the fact that we took care to set the wheel size correctly.

    Going back to the altimeter, even if not calibrated to your current position, it still gives an accurate reading of how far you have climbed/descended and your current gradient.

    It is just that it will say you climbed (say) 400 feet and descended 300 from a start altitude of 1,000 feet instead of 600 feet.

    I don't set the unit to display altitude anyway, just metres ascended and descended.

  5. #5
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    Good write up. I wonder how long the 500 can record @ 1 sec. My forerunner 305 can only record @ 1 sec. for 3.5 hrs, which isn't quite enough. I tried to look it up on the garmin site but couldn't find it.

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    You mean how long on one ride, or the total memory capacity of the unit?
    I do not know either, but l guess l will find out soon enough.
    With the refresh rate set at 1 second it is a little more accurate. This does not really matter to me, so l would not mind changing it back to automatic.

    I may fit a wheel sensor, just to see what it does for the accuracy.
    For this l will have to find out exactly how far my regular ride is.
    At the moment we have readings between 9.6 and 10.7 miles from various devices.

  7. #7
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    Yes, for each ride. I discovered if you go over the limit on a ride it will write over the track starting at the beginning.
    The wheel sensor sounds pretty good, except they tend to get knocked about every now and then. It must be wireless, those tend to be big and clunky compared to the wired ones.
    The 500 does sound like a good step up from the 200.

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    Yes, the older fitness models would overwrite once you filled the track memory. I had an Edge 705 that did that, too. Newer ones do not. I think the Edge 500 was one of the first to make the track memory limit based on the number of laps, instead of the number of track points. Either way, I did a 7hr ride with my Forerunner 310XT this year on 1sec recording and it recorded all of it.

    Actually, elevation change can be inaccurate, also, with infrequent calibration. If a weather system is moving in and pressure is increasing or decreasing over the course of your ride, not only will you be changing altitude, but the pressure will be changing because of the weather, also. Depending on what you're doing, it could increase measured change, or decrease measured change. The longer you go between calibrations, the larger this difference could be. I've seen it happen on rides before. It's especially noticeable when I'm out all day, and I "pause" GPS recording at a rest stop where I hang out for half an hour or more. When I start again, the elevation is sometimes SIGNIFICANTLY different than it was when I stopped in that location, even though I did not change elevation, the GPS thought I did.

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    Fortunately when you download the ride data to Garmin Connect (or similar) on your PC, you can correct the errors, as there is an option to reset the elevations based on known figures.

  10. #10
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    For me, the best computer would be a 200 with a clock on the main display. I like the simplicity of this unit, but whoever the moron at Garmin is that decided that people don't need a clock during rides needs to be punched in the junk. Most of my riding doesn't allow me enough chances to hold a button down with one hand for a few seconds and do so safely.

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    I am with you on that.

    It is obvious that they COULD put the clock on the main display, as an option with the three others for the bottom part of the screen.

    I think it is because that would make the Edge 200 too good, and take sales away from the 500.

    I bet that is why Garmin never changed it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobretti View Post
    Good write up. I wonder how long the 500 can record @ 1 sec. My forerunner 305 can only record @ 1 sec. for 3.5 hrs, which isn't quite enough. I tried to look it up on the garmin site but couldn't find it.
    Haven't seen a definite answer for this yet, but my longest ride at 1-second logging was about 10 hours. I don't know of anyone who has run out of track points.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lotusdriver View Post
    I am with you on that.

    It is obvious that they COULD put the clock on the main display, as an option with the three others for the bottom part of the screen.

    I think it is because that would make the Edge 200 too good, and take sales away from the 500.

    I bet that is why Garmin never changed it.
    The Edge 200 was intended to be a super basic unit with minimal options and customization. Garmin had to draw the line somewhere. Want more options? Then the 200 is not for you. Simply enough.

  14. #14
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    Garmin Edge 200 and 500 comparisons

    A clock is a pretty basic function.


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    Quote Originally Posted by friz View Post
    A clock is a pretty basic function.
    What is even more annoying is the 200 has a clock that you can access while riding, but not that you can put on the main display. One of my little quarrels with the 200, which let to me taking it back and getting a 510.

    I liked the form and basic functionality of the 200. Small, basic data, enough for me on a ride. The biggest problem was the auto recording -- it led to lots of z-shaped tracks on curvy roads and bike paths, not to mention a single-track trail. That was my biggest issue. The elevation gains displayed were also wildly inaccurate. Overall, I decided it would probably bug me enough long-term to take the hit and get the 510. The 510 seems better in these regards, but I did like the size of the 200.
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    Why did you not go for the 500? It is the same size as the 200 but addresses all the issues you had (with the 200)
    That is what l ended up doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lotusdriver View Post
    Why did you not go for the 500? It is the same size as the 200 but addresses all the issues you had (with the 200)
    That is what l ended up doing.
    I was headed toward the 500, but I found the 510 on sale for ~ $265 on Cyber Monday. I figured that an extra $65 was worth it for the new tricks (live tracking, bluetooth connectivity), the touch screen, GLONASS capability, and mostly, just to have the 'latest' unit in case I keep it for a long time and need any tech support down the road, as the 500 is about 4 years old now. At msrp ($330 vs $199), or if the coupon could have been applied the 500 for a screaming deal (it could not, as the coupon was for regular priced items, and the 500 was 'on sale' everywhere for $199, which is now the regular price, apparently), I probably would have gone with the 500, as it does everything I want. But for $65, I figured why not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tystevens View Post
    What is even more annoying is the 200 has a clock that you can access while riding, but not that you can put on the main display.
    And that's the rub. the clock as a function is there. It's core to the way the GPS works (the satellites only send time signals, nothing else. the head unit does all the rest). It's just such a basic unit that the customization of data fields is extremely limited.

  19. #19
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    The Edge 510 is a nice unit, but I had to stop somewhere!

    I started with the Edge 200 then ended up with the 500 (including HRM etc) having spent twice as much money!

    The 500 does all I want. But I can see why people would go for the 510.

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    Sure, but they designed the 200 so you could flip between a few different data readouts, including a couple pretty pointless ones. I mean, they programmed a metric to calculate calories burned (which seemed wildly off, by the way), which could be monitored in real time? Who monitors that on an real time basis? Meanwhile, the unit is already keeping track of the time of day, so it isn't like they needed to add additional electronics to the unit to do that. It just doesn't seem like a stretch for them to have included time of day as a 4th readout you could select, you know, like my $19 Sigma did. Wasn't a huge deal for me, but kinda made me scratch my head that Garmin would go out of its way to make sure I could monitor my calories burned, but wouldn't provide the time of day which was always there in the first place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tystevens View Post
    Sure, but they designed the 200 so you could flip between a few different data readouts, including a couple pretty pointless ones. I mean, they programmed a metric to calculate calories burned (which seemed wildly off, by the way), which could be monitored in real time? Who monitors that on an real time basis? Meanwhile, the unit is already keeping track of the time of day, so it isn't like they needed to add additional electronics to the unit to do that. It just doesn't seem like a stretch for them to have included time of day as a 4th readout you could select, you know, like my $19 Sigma did. Wasn't a huge deal for me, but kinda made me scratch my head that Garmin would go out of its way to make sure I could monitor my calories burned, but wouldn't provide the time of day which was always there in the first place.
    They were trying to hit a market, and I think that live calorie readout hints at the market they were trying to hit. The Edge 200 is not for serious cyclists of any type, really. It's not for people who are serious about real fitness goals (performance goals). It's not for people who are serious about mapping or navigation. The shortest way I can think to explain it would be that it's made for the "New Year's Resolution" crowd who would watch that bogus calorie readout, take it literally, and think they burned off last night's margaritas or something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    They were trying to hit a market, and I think that live calorie readout hints at the market they were trying to hit. The Edge 200 is not for serious cyclists of any type, really. It's not for people who are serious about real fitness goals (performance goals). It's not for people who are serious about mapping or navigation. The shortest way I can think to explain it would be that it's made for the "New Year's Resolution" crowd who would watch that bogus calorie readout, take it literally, and think they burned off last night's margaritas or something.
    I just recently bought a edge 200. This is my first experience with a gps computer. I am a serious cyclist (i suppose) and I wanted something relatively inexpensive that I could use as a bike computer and upload my rides to strava. I don't care if doesn't ping every second and my ride distance is off by 2%. This unit was perfect for my expectations and budget. And, for monitoring performance gains I use a HRM.
    -It's time to shred some mild to moderate gnar!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by texasnavy05 View Post
    This is my first experience with a gps computer.
    bingo.

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    But if all you want to know is your speed, and how far you have gone on your ride, plus how much climbing you have done, then the Edge 200 is fine.

    Sure, it's not totally accurate. But then again neither is a traditional bike computer.
    Three of my friends have these, and their distance measurements differed by 5% on a ten mile ride. That was despite taking care to set the wheel size correctly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lotusdriver View Post
    But if all you want to know is your speed, and how far you have gone on your ride, plus how much climbing you have done, then the Edge 200 is fine.

    Sure, it's not totally accurate. But then again neither is a traditional bike computer.
    Three of my friends have these, and their distance measurements differed by 5% on a ten mile ride. That was despite taking care to set the wheel size correctly.
    It's a little deeper than that. It's not just the numbers that the device reports on the odometer screen. If that's all you want, why bother with a GPS computer? The reason for buying a GPS computer - even a basic one - is that you can download the data. The Edge 200 is so basic that the downloaded data is actually worse than what gets reported on the odometer screen on the device itself. That is what makes this device not worth it.

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