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Monday, May 21, 2018

First Impressions: Garmin Edge 25

My brother's wife Kim gave Bowen her 3 year old Vivoactive. It was in amazing condition. with almost perfect battery life, but it took all of 3 months for Bowen to destroy it. When asked, he didn't even know how he'd managed to crack the screen so hard that the waterproofing failed. I sadly came to the conclusion that if Bowen were to have a bike computer, it should have been one that stayed on his bike, and not on his wrist.

The Edge 25 on an eBay sale came down to $95. At that price, it would have been cheaper to have bought one and moved it from bike to bike rather than the old-style wired bike computers that I'd been buying and installing, and it would have been less hassle too.

The unit is very very cute, and simple to run. Unfortunately, it comes with a charging cradle instead of a micro-USB or mini-USB charging cable, meaning one more thing to carry (and lose) while touring. One feature that it had that I didn't expect was that it actually allows you to download routes to it for club rides! The usual instructions didn't work, but someone had figured out that if you converted a GPX/TCX file to a FIT file it would work. The UI is confusing, though, since you can start a course, but the unit wouldn't record a GPS track unless you also started the GPS recording manually. Of course, it wouldn't reroute if you got off-course, nor is it actually useful for touring.

The battery life is a claimed 8 hours, and we did a 7 hour ride on Saturday with no problems. The big difference between the Edge 25 and the cheaper Edge 20 is that the Edge 25 will pair with the Garmin speed and cadence sensors, which I have a nice collection of but unless you already own those you should probably go for the cheaper unit, since neither has a barometric altimeter, resulting in Bowen recording significantly more climbing than I did, despite the two of us being on the same bike. Though again, for a little kid, the cadence sensor might actually be useful in telling him when to shift.

Unlike the higher end units, the Edge 25 will not automatically resume a ride if you turn the unit off without saving. It will boot with no memory of previous rides and might even lose rides if you just turn the unit off without saving the ride.

The charging interface is strange, since if I plugged the device into a wall charger, it would power the device on (useful for pairing with a tablet and uploading tracks), but then there's no way to view the device's charge status to see if it's finished charging.

I'm of 2 minds about the unit. First of all, I'm well bought into the Garmin ecosystem, so it was unthinkable to even switch brands for my son's GPS. And this is the cheapest Garmin unit you can find, short of a used/refurbished Vivoactive, which would have the problem of being wrist mounted and getting killed by Bowen. On the other hand, it's a very limited device. On the other hand, by the time the battery dies, Bowen would probably have moved on, and an 8 hour ride is probably as much as you can expect a kid to ever do. But if you weren't already bought into the Garmin ecosystem I suspect that there are cheaper devices (though probably not nearly as polished) for your kid to play with. Now you might be tempted to buy a more expensive unit, such as the Wahoo or the Edge 520 Mapping Plus, but those come with their own problems, and batteries in these units should be treated as consumables, so there's probably no longevity when it comes to getting something that your kid will grow into anyway.

Ultimately, the unit is a good compromise, and I should probably have gotten one years ago when I first started installing computers on Bowen's bikes instead of buying a wired computer for every one of those things.

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