The three of us here at AeroGeeks use Garmin 500s. We like them for their ease of use, their resilience in less than perfect conditions, and the absolute mountains of data they give us. Today, however, at least this member of AG has a new target for his datalust… The Garmin 510 and its bigger brother, the 810. To be sure, the update to the line is impressive, but are they worth the extra scratch?
Let’s start with the basics: both feature a resistive, color, touchscreen – the 510 a 2.2” and the 810 spans 2.6”. Both have only three buttons, power, lap and stop/start. As always, the 8-series features navigation, and the 5-series does not. Both feature smartphone (iOS and Android) integration via Bluetooth for uploading your ride data over your phone (for those of us who never remember to upload their rides when we’re done, this is a Big Deal). Still IPX7 water resistant, too, so don’t worry about dripping from the swim all over your fancy new touchscreen bike computer. The list of similarities goes on, so let’s cut to the chase: the showstopper – the real value for your tri dollar – is the 510.
(above, the 510)
It does everything the 810 does, minus Navigation, at $170 less. That isn’t to say that the 810 is somehow deficient; not hardly. But it simply does not represent the same bang for the buck as the 510 does, due in large part to having a whole swath of features shared between them. But the killer to the 810, the death-blow from the value proposition, is that the 510 uses GLONASS, which is a low-earth-orbit navigation satellite constellation and should result in much faster lock times and better GPS retention through wooded or otherwise sky-blocked routes… something the 810 doesn’t get. And that, right there, is all you need to know, really. Sure, you sacrifice navigation, but that is all you sacrifice between the two.
(above, the 810)
We here at AeroGeeks support pest-free riding, and the 510 does exactly that. Everything you need; nothing you don’t. Play with your data later, ride now. Yes, the navigation could come in handy on training rides, but you shouldn’t be without your smartphone, anyway (which fits beautifully in your bib’s radio pocket, just FYI), and you get all that interesting overlay stuff on Garmin Connect when you upload. If you’re into setting up all manner of categories for your bikes, the new Garmins will let you do that, both of them.
And this is the problem with recommending the 810 – unless you want to ride someone else’s route, the extra features just don’t add up to the cost differential. If you need nav, you aren’t going to do better than the 810. If you don’t, and you want to save a few bones, go with the 510 – if my 500 ever breaks, and I’m hoping it never does – this guy will.
Garmin’s Introduction Video
Additional Articles on the 810/510