Garmin is attempting to give cyclists the best of both the cyclecomputer and smartphone worlds with the introduction of its Edge 810 ($499) and Edge 510 ($329) models. The new models build on the legacy of the well-liked and successful Edge 800 and 500 models, with a bold step into complete connectivity.
Stated simply, the 810 and 510 connect to a user's smartphone (iPhone or Android OS phones) via Bluetooth and a free, dedicated Garmin Connect Mobile app, and the smartphone, in turn, connects to the world via the cellular network. Connecting your on-the-road location and performance data (including heart rate and power output, if you have those options, and opt to show them) opens up a whole new range of features and possibilities.
Connectivity Features: LiveTrack and More
Let's start with the new connectivity features, and then get back to what's new in the computer hardware and software. First up is LiveTrack: "The LiveTrack feature allows cyclists’ friends and family to follow their races and training rides in real-time," states Garmin. "Invite followers using email or social media, so they can view live data on a Garmin Connect tracking page on a smartphone, desktop or tablet. Once they receive an email invite, they can click to follow and see cyclists’ stats like speed and distance, heart rate (optional), cadence and power (optional), and location on the map.... The Garmin-Sharp professional cycling team, for which we have been a title sponsor since 2008, will be using this LiveTrack feature during its training rides—giving team management and coaches a real-time look at their efforts."
Garmin 810 & 510 Wireless Data Transfers
The cyclecomputer-to-smartphone connection also enables wireless data transfers. For example, You may set your Garmin Edge 810 or Edge 510 to automatically upload your completed workout data to the Garmin Connect online training log service as soon as you finish a ride and stop your route. No need to connect to a PC. Conversely, you may also search workouts and courses stored online at Garmin Connect, and download them to your Garmin cyclecomputer for use on the road or trail.
In addition to uploads, downloads, and real-time tracking, you may also set up a real-time weather screen on the 810 and 510, which pulls its information from your smartphone connection. It will be handy to have temperature, wind speed and other real-time data on the handlebar.
Garmin 810 & 510 Hardware
The outer dimensions and screen sizes of the Garmin 810 and the original 800 model are exactly the same, at 2.0 inches wide x 3.7 inches long, by 1 inch wide. The 510 sees more of a change, and is a little larger than the 500 at 2.0 inches wide x 3.4 inches long, by 0.9 inches wide.
The biggest differences between the 810 and the 510 are overall physical size and screen size; the 810's ability to accept an SD card with Garmin maps, and the Garmin Virtual Racer on the 810 (compete against other rides). The 810's mapping capability is impressive: you can put the entire Garmin North America map set, for example, including POIs and turn-by-turn directions, into the computer on an SD card. "The 810 is compatible with optional detailed street or TOPO maps including BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, so it can guide cyclists for touring, commuting or extended activities where they might need onboard maps and navigation," states Garmin.
I've used the Edge 800 extensively, and it has proven to be durable, waterproof, and I have to say, I'm still amazed at all of the data it easily captures, and at its mapping and navigation capability. The 810 and 510 are taking all of this to an even higher level with real-time connectivity that will add a lot of capability to share data, before, during, and after our rides.