Purchasing a GPS help

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  • 11-24-2016
    siggy85
    Purchasing a GPS help
    I've been doing some research on GPS units and had my heart set on a Garmin 820, until I read about a lot of people having reliability issues. It seems there's some readability issues too. The most important features to me would be the ability to create routes and have turn by turn navigation as well as having the ability to pair with a heart rate monitor. I would like to keep the price under $400. Any suggestions?
  • 11-24-2016
    Harold
    Why not get the Edge 520 instead?

    You don't exactly sound like a power user who is requiring all of the extras offered by the Edge 820.
  • 11-24-2016
    siggy85
    I thought the 520 just had a bread crumb map, looking back I see it's more advance. It looks like from reviews, they are glitchy and have a hard to read screen though
  • 11-26-2016
    Harold
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by siggy85 View Post
    I thought the 520 just had a bread crumb map, looking back I see it's more advance. It looks like from reviews, they are glitchy and have a hard to read screen though

    I bought one this year and don't have a single complaint about it.

    There is always SOMEBODY that complains about any device's screen readability. I haven't had a problem. I've had plenty of phones over the years that wash out into nothingness in the sun. The worst Garmins I've had have been toughest to read under mottled sun/shade in the forest, but stopping to angle it to get the lighting I want has never been an issue. I don't really need to read the screen while I'm riding, anyway.

    To keep in perspective regarding the turn-by-turn navigation, and you need to be absolutely clear on this before you buy ANYTHING.

    If this is for mtb use, NO DIGITAL MAP HAS EVERY TRAIL ON IT. For maps that focus on very small areas, it's much easier to have a pretty comprehensive collection of trails. Digital maps tend to focus on large areas. To be everything for everyone. That is where they fail when it comes to trails. Trails open and close at a pace that producers of maps simply can't keep up with. That data doesn't get published like road data does (and FWIW, Garmins with lifetime road maps get updates quarterly to cover just that). So while Garmin might think it's got itself into the business of selling maps that allow you to do turn-by-turn navigation on trails, that functionality is effectively useless for mtb purposes.

    It's really only of any use for road bikes, and only of limited use at that. Garmin has new routing options on the 820 and 1000 series models built for road bikes (round trip routing), where you tell it how far you want to ride, and the device will build a route using the map data programmed into it. I've heard pretty mixed reviews of it, to be honest. Definitions of preferable roads to ride differ among cyclists (something I've been keenly aware of after being involved in a map project that built a bike suitability index for local roads). Some of those cyclists disagree vehemently on this. So this round trip routing is relying on someone else's definitions of bike friendly roads that may or may not match yours. When you're somewhere unfamiliar, this might be a useful starting point to get out and do a quick ride. And I think this is really its intended purpose. Because if you're at home, or somewhere else familiar to you, you likely have your preferred routes regardless of what any bike suitability index says.

    The other more fundamental problem is map accuracy. What I'm referring to here isn't necessarily whether the map shows the road/trail in the correct location. I'm talking about smaller details you may not see right away. I remember when the round trip routing first came out, there was quite a hubbub over the fact that it was an absolute MESS in the San Francisco area. The reason? Bridges. The round trip routing function wouldn't use them, and people were pissed. Turned out, even though the bridges looked on the map like they connected to the roads on either side, programmatically-speaking, they did not. So the routing function on the GPS didn't know that it was even an option. At least the maps Garmin used for the Edge 1000 were open-source, so folks could go into the map and make the relevant fixes. But there are little errors in the digital maps everyone uses all over the country.

    At the last house where I lived, Google Maps was downright WRONG. The street that went in front of my house was labeled as the wrong street. So when you put my address into Google Maps, it sent you to the wrong place. I submitted a fix for it when Google began offering the service. After 6 months of reviewing it, they rejected my revisions (my whole neighborhood was wrong, in fact. not just my street). So as far as I know, it's still wrong. And I haven't lived there for 4 years.

    Those little errors all over the place add up, and you may not ever run into one. But there might be a very important and fundamental error where you live that screws up the route options the GPS supplies. And you may not know about it.

    Now, with all that said, you can build a pre-programmed route that gives you turn-by-turn directions on pretty much any Garmin bike GPS using the Course functionality. The Course functionality doesn't rely on any maps that may or may not be loaded into the GPS (this functionality works on many devices with absolutely no basemap data whatsoever). You can build these for road rides or for mtb rides. Admittedly, it's more difficult to build a Course with turn cues/notifications for a mtb ride than for a road ride, because it still relies on the trails being known beforehand. You just don't have to rely on those trails being included on Garmin's maps. You can rely on other sources to get them.