Garmin Edge 500 – First look and Review

by Brian Mullin on December 24, 2009

Go to http://www.gramslightbikes.com/2010/07/garmin-edge-500-review.html for the full review!

I had read about the new Garmin Edge 500 in early September, and was very fascinated by the features of the unit. It is more comparable to my Edge 305 then the Edge 705, since it doesn’t have the 705’s maps and routing capabilities. What it does have is a lot of the newer technology that has evolved from the Edge series engineering and knowledge base, and it has been rolled into a lightweight and small package.

For comparison, the Edge 500 seems to be about 2/3 the size of the Edge 305, and in fact the weight is also about 2/3 of the Edge 305 (2 oz vs 2.8 oz).
Techno Babble
The Edge 500 comes equipped with a new mounting system, has a barometric altimeter, and uses HotFix™ technology for faster satellite acquisition. The Edge 500 can synchronize wirelessly using ANT+™ network protocol with compatible third-party power meters, and it pairs wirelessly with Garmins speed/cadence sensor and heart rate monitor. With up to 18 hours of battery life, it can also display temperature readings, change time zones automatically and alert the rider if they’re moving but the timer is not running. In addition it has improved heart-rate monitoring technology which offers improved accuracy calculating calories burned.
I hope to get a ride with the new unit, depending on the whims of the local weather (currently a mini blizzard). However, I did get to play with it around the house the other day, and did actually run around the property to see how well it mapped (it did fine).
The kit comes with the Edge 500 (obviously), a USB connector, a CD, quick start manual (in a slew of languages), USB to wall power connector (with multi country plugs), and the new mount system.

Set Up
I turned the unit on, and it walked me through some basic configuration, such as language desired, age, sex, etc. The screens are very intuitive, and the 4 multi-function buttons which were easy to use and comprehend. After the initial configuration,  you can set up the data fields that appear on the screen in any layout you desire. The data fields that can be chosen run the whole gamut of information from speed, distance, time, heart rate, etc. Some of the data fields are only pertinent to the optional input devices, such as power meter, heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor. Another great new feature is having 3 pages of data screens, so you put lower priority data on the other screens, and only access them if needed. The multiple page feature prevents cluttering up the screens with too much information.The screens can easily be paged through using the buttons.
The included CD is just a user manual and doesn’t contain any software, so you need to go to the Garmin web site and download any of the required software. I downloaded and installed  their WebUpdater software, and plugged the Edge 500 in when prompted, and it loaded the latest firmware (version 2.10). I already have their Training Center software installed, so there was no need for anything additional.The USB connector is on the back of the unit, behind a small rubber cover. One thing I really liked is that there is a charging counter, so I know the percentage of charge of the unit.
Installing the new mount system was a breeze. You simply place the new mount on your stem or bar (notches parallel), clip the rubber band on the mount’s hook, wrap it around to the other side and hook it up. The industrial strength rubber band, come in 2 sizes, and there are quite a few extras in case they get old, broken or lost.
 
To install the Edge 500, push the back tab into the mount’s slot to engage it, and then rotate it 90 degrees.
 
 
 It will be interesting to see how the new system works with usage?
Usage
First off, acquiring satellites is wickedly fast in comparison to the Edge 305, it usually pulled them in around 15 seconds or less, even indoors in my house! It took just a bit for the unit to acquire my heart rate monitor, and after that it seemed to work just fine with the readings. The accuracy of the temperature display reminds me a lot of my old altimeter watch, it gets a reading that’s in the ballpark, and it’s sometimes accurate and sometimes not. The mapping around my property line was pretty much on the nose, and the altitude reading was off by 15 feet, which was right within its accuracy. The heading of the unit didn’t seem to be working very well for me, so I need some more time to test that out, it kept showing NE when it was pointing south?
Thoughts
I am looking forward to hammering out some trails with the Edge 500, since it has everything I like in a GPS unit. It tracks speed, distance, time, GPS position, elevation, ascent and descent. It has a barometric altimeter, which is paramount for elevation accuracy. I also like the speedy new HotFix™ technology for acquiring satellites, and the ability to have 3 pages of data fields. The new mounting system is very easy to use, and I am interested in how durable it is. I also use a Delorme PN-40, but I just really don’t use the map functionality, so the basic data output is all I really care about, and the Edge 500 fits the bill.

Measured Specs
Weight:
Edge 500 – 57.3 grams (2 oz)

Mount     – 7.9 grams
Total      – 65.2 grams

Size:
70mm x 48 mm (2 3/4″ x 1 7/8″)

MSRP
Edge 500 $249.99
Edge 500 $349.99 (bundled with a heart rate monitor strap and speed/cadence sensor)

Garmin Edge 500 url

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Luan March 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Hey Brian

Love your site and really value your opinions !

I ordered one of these from CRC and have been reading about a lot of issues with them.

How have you experienced it so far ?

Regards,
Luan.
South Africa.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet March 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm

No issues so far with mine, it has seen 3 day a week abuse for 3 months. I have read about people have some erratic speed readings, but I haven't experienced them or else I haven't noticed since I am usually busy watching the trail! Good luck, its a great unit.

Reply

Luan March 27, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Sweet I'm glad to hear, allot of people had lost data and freezing/ressetting issues.

Seems the newest firmware is actually worse than the old version.

Getting this as a replacement to my Suunto T3, good basic unit but after 3 years the HR and strap have gone and replacong it will cost so much here as to get it to the same level as the Edge, so I'm rather getting that.

Happy riding,
Luan.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet March 28, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Luan,

I am updating to the latest version to see what happens? I will test the next couple of days…

Reply

Luan April 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Finally got mine on friday after 2 weeks of waiting, South African Post Office is not really an efficient entity !

Really nice, impressed with the cadence and bike mount, well thought out. Love the alert timer so I can drink every 15 min !

Bit of a learning curve, but still user friendly. Firmware 2.30 seems to work fine.

Now for the serious training and a powertap in the future…

Reply

Richie April 21, 2010 at 8:36 am

Hey Brian – do you know if the edge 305 heart rate monitor and cadence sensor are compatible with the 500?

Cheers

Richie

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet April 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Richie,

Yep, all the same stuff. In fact that is what I am using for my test!

Brian

Reply

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