Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

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mikeymo
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Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby mikeymo » 5 Feb 2020, 6:45pm

I'm a casual cyclist. Some light "fitness" cycling (definitely NOT a sports cyclist). Some nipping into town and exploring my area cycling. And some exploring the Outer Hebrides on a bike. No "hardcore" touring. Yet. The bike is a heavy touring bike.

So I bought the Garmin Edge Explore. "It's like the 1030 without all the fitness stuff" they said. Which would work for me.

I'm 61, I need glasses for reading but not for driving or riding, distance vision is fine. The screen is barely readable, for me. I don't need specs to cycle, I don't want to wear them on the bike. Though I've usually got a cheap pair in a pocket so I can read cake menus.

I've got buyers remorse (so haven't taken it out on the bike, as I may return it). Also, you can't use it while it's charging it seems, which is a real negative for hard core remote tourers who would want to charge from a dynamo.

I've used my iphone 6s as a bike satnav/strava/polar recorder (I've got an H7 heart monitor). All fine, except for the usual caveats about battery life, and having my valuable, and important, phone strapped to the handlebars.

So, first question - is there anything better about Garmin maps that come "with" the device that you can't get with smartphone maps?

My thinking is that I'd be better with a "rugged" Android (£100 ish?) and apps. There are some with 5500mAH batteries now. 4 times more than my iphone.

Pros and Cons:

A dedicated smartphone+apps is probably cheaper.
Battery life on smartphone not as good as Garmin, but careful use can increase it significantly (download maps, turn off GSM, set apps to notify only on junctions etc.)
I have a phone as well as sat nav/cycle computer (and I can always swap my SIM out of my "real" phone if I want).
Smartphone bigger and heavier. Though bigger (screen) is what I want.
Garmin has lots of cycle specific "extras" - mounts and so on.
New Garmin has their "trendline" maps - are these proving useful?

Jdsk
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby Jdsk » 5 Feb 2020, 7:00pm

I like the ruggedness and battery life of a dedicated device, and the built-in maps of my Edge 1000. And it not affecting the storage or battery life of my iPhone.
mikeymo wrote:Also, you can't use it while it's charging it seems, which is a real negative for hard core remote tourers who would want to charge from a dynamo.

Reports aren't totally consistent. I found that my Edge 1000 didn't like the charging stopping and starting. So I run it off a USB battery pack which is charged by the hub dynamo. Or would be if my second B + M charging headlamp hadn't failed.

Jonathan

mikeymo
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby mikeymo » 5 Feb 2020, 8:49pm

Jdsk wrote:I like the ruggedness and battery life of a dedicated device, and the built-in maps of my Edge 1000. And it not affecting the storage or battery life of my iPhone.
mikeymo wrote:Also, you can't use it while it's charging it seems, which is a real negative for hard core remote tourers who would want to charge from a dynamo.

Reports aren't totally consistent. I found that my Edge 1000 didn't like the charging stopping and starting. So I run it off a USB battery pack which is charged by the hub dynamo. Or would be if my second B + M charging headlamp hadn't failed.

Jonathan


When the Edge Explore was charging (from my laptop) it wouldn't even turn "on", in other words go into normal usage mode. But as I said, that's probably only an issue to serious camping tourists in the wilds.

I've thought of a plus for the Garmin which is lights and rear "radar" integration. It's probably not a massive plus, though for my Outer Hebrides usage it could be handy. Those are single track roads up there, and with the (always blowing) wind you sometimes don't realise there's a car behind.

And sure enough, this review:

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2018/04/garmin-varia-rtl510-radar-cycling-light-in-depth-review.html

seems to support my thought that it might be useful in exactly the place I like to cycle.
Last edited by mikeymo on 5 Feb 2020, 8:58pm, edited 1 time in total.

Psamathe
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby Psamathe » 5 Feb 2020, 8:55pm

I also need glasses for reading but distance vision is perfect without any glasses ... what distance are you trying to ready your Gamin from? When holding a device people often hold it far closer to their eyes than the eyes to handlebar distance it would be at when cycling.

I do have an issue about glasses when eg I get an e-mail or phone call when cycling and need to read my phone screen. I've taken to carrying a pair of these https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01L3R8WVC. They are not comfortable but they are small and flat which makes them easy to carry, they slip into and out of the case in no time, they don't have arms so just push on your nose (quick, one handed) and they make quickly reading the screen really easy.

Ian

Psamathe
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby Psamathe » 5 Feb 2020, 8:58pm

Re: Battery & Charging
On my 1030 the battery would happily last more than a day so charging whilst in use is not an issue (and that is with bluetooth running, trach recording, ANT+ running to wheel speed and cadence sensors).

Ian

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al_yrpal
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby al_yrpal » 5 Feb 2020, 9:08pm

An Android phone. Possibly adding a power bank for longevity and Open Street Map + would be my choice. If you have a route planned I would have it on the bike in this.. If you have a route (cycle.travel on line will give you this) Osmand + will give you voice and screen directions. OSM+ is a fiver, cycle.travel is free.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07 ... UTF8&psc=1

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

Psamathe
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby Psamathe » 5 Feb 2020, 9:23pm

al_yrpal wrote:An Android phone. Possibly adding a power bank for longevity and Open Street Map + would be my choice. If you have a route planned I would have it on the bike in this.. If you have a route (cycle.travel on line will give you this) Osmand + will give you voice and screen directions. OSM+ is a fiver, cycle.travel is free.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07 ... UTF8&psc=1

Al

Would have been my choice (or at least an iPhone) until I got my Garmin 1030 and now I'd replace it (the Garmin) if I lost/broke it.

Ian

mikeymo
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby mikeymo » 5 Feb 2020, 9:30pm

Psamathe wrote:I also need glasses for reading but distance vision is perfect without any glasses ... what distance are you trying to ready your Gamin from? When holding a device people often hold it far closer to their eyes than the eyes to handlebar distance it would be at when cycling.

I do have an issue about glasses when eg I get an e-mail or phone call when cycling and need to read my phone screen. I've taken to carrying a pair of these https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01L3R8WVC. They are not comfortable but they are small and flat which makes them easy to carry, they slip into and out of the case in no time, they don't have arms so just push on your nose (quick, one handed) and they make quickly reading the screen really easy.

Ian


Arm completely outstretched distance. So pretty much handlebar distance. Which is the same distance that I mainly use specs for (the distance of a music stand, what I do for a living). The Garmin is kinda legible, and if all I was doing was following the turn by turn instructions at the top of the screen (that's how it works, yes?), it might be just about OK. But doing more than that on it would be difficult. I suppose usage patterns would make it easier or harder. If I'm always load GPXs from elsewhere (it pairs with a smartphone, yes?) then just pressing "go" it might be OK.

Yes, I usually carry specs if I'm going out for any time, so that's not necessarily a problem, but I don't want to have to wear them when I'm riding, or squint at the Garmin (without specs) while I'm riding.

It's one of those situations where to assess it I'd probably have to use it for a few rides, in different weathers and so on. At which point I can't really return it, so if I'm not happy with it I've sort of wasted money. Mind it's sellable I guess, keep all the packaging, barely used etc.

Is there a dedicated bike GPS computer with a far larger screen?

Also, it doesn't do full postcodes, which is a bit meh.

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RickH
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby RickH » 5 Feb 2020, 9:37pm

mikeymo wrote:When the Edge Explore was charging (from my laptop) it wouldn't even turn "on", in other words go into normal usage mode. But as I said, that's probably only an issue to serious camping tourists in the wilds.

When connected to a computer the Edge, along with many other devices, enters a USB data connection mode &, as you found, is not usable. Connected to purely a power source then it should work fine & even cope with connection/disconnection. I suspect the situation where they don't cope is where road vibrations cause very rapid (multiple times a second) loss of connection.

mikeymo
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby mikeymo » 5 Feb 2020, 9:44pm

RickH wrote:
mikeymo wrote:When the Edge Explore was charging (from my laptop) it wouldn't even turn "on", in other words go into normal usage mode. But as I said, that's probably only an issue to serious camping tourists in the wilds.

When connected to a computer the Edge, along with many other devices, enters a USB data connection mode &, as you found, is not usable. Connected to purely a power source then it should work fine & even cope with connection/disconnection. I suspect the situation where they don't cope is where road vibrations cause very rapid (multiple times a second) loss of connection.


You're absolutely right, I've just tried it. Thanks for correcting my misapprehension. Not sure how easy they are to charge with the socket on the bottom, but I guess it has to be there for weather sealing.

mikeymo
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby mikeymo » 5 Feb 2020, 9:46pm

al_yrpal wrote:An Android phone. Possibly adding a power bank for longevity and Open Street Map + would be my choice. If you have a route planned I would have it on the bike in this.. If you have a route (cycle.travel on line will give you this) Osmand + will give you voice and screen directions. OSM+ is a fiver, cycle.travel is free.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07 ... UTF8&psc=1

Al


Thanks. I've just spent a happy hour or so trawling "rugged Android phones". Of which there seem to be many. Any advice on what matters? Given that I couldn't care less about watching videos or anything like that, does processor power/storage matter that much for this purpose. They seem to start at around £90.

Jdsk
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby Jdsk » 5 Feb 2020, 9:50pm

RickH wrote:Connected to purely a power source then it should work fine & even cope with connection/disconnection. I suspect the situation where they don't cope is where road vibrations cause very rapid (multiple times a second) loss of connection.

This isn't the problem with my Edge 1000. If I run it with the hub dynamo alone as the voltage comes up it tells me that it's going into charging mode, and that obscures the display until I dismiss it.

Under the same conditions with it plugged into the USB battery pack it doesn't.

But, as above, reports aren't consistent, and it's possible that I haven't found the magic setting.

Jonathan

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al_yrpal
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby al_yrpal » 5 Feb 2020, 10:51pm

mikeymo wrote:
al_yrpal wrote:An Android phone. Possibly adding a power bank for longevity and Open Street Map + would be my choice. If you have a route planned I would have it on the bike in this.. If you have a route (cycle.travel on line will give you this) Osmand + will give you voice and screen directions. OSM+ is a fiver, cycle.travel is free.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07 ... UTF8&psc=1

Al


Thanks. I've just spent a happy hour or so trawling "rugged Android phones". Of which there seem to be many. Any advice on what matters? Given that I couldn't care less about watching videos or anything like that, does processor power/storage matter that much for this purpose. They seem to start at around £90.


Phones arent waterproof and in that stem mounted case they dont need to be. You can tuck a little power bank in there too and connect it up. You can operate the screen through the window with your finger. My experience is of Motorola phones. I currently have a G5s I have had since 4/2018. I got a bigger cheapo chinese job attracted by a seemingly huge battery but its battery life was less than half of the G5s and it got sent back so dont be swayed by that. The G5s has a metal case I have dropped it several times and its never given any problems. A s/h, new or refurbished one of those sub £100 would be a good buy. Sorry I dont have more experience on any other phones but when I find something good I hang on to it.

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

mikeymo
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby mikeymo » 5 Feb 2020, 11:06pm

al_yrpal wrote:
mikeymo wrote:
al_yrpal wrote:An Android phone. Possibly adding a power bank for longevity and Open Street Map + would be my choice. If you have a route planned I would have it on the bike in this.. If you have a route (cycle.travel on line will give you this) Osmand + will give you voice and screen directions. OSM+ is a fiver, cycle.travel is free.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07 ... UTF8&psc=1

Al


Thanks. I've just spent a happy hour or so trawling "rugged Android phones". Of which there seem to be many. Any advice on what matters? Given that I couldn't care less about watching videos or anything like that, does processor power/storage matter that much for this purpose. They seem to start at around £90.


Phones arent waterproof and in that stem mounted case they dont need to be. You can tuck a little power bank in there too and connect it up. You can operate the screen through the window with your finger. My experience is of Motorola phones. I currently have a G5s I have had since 4/2018. I got a bigger cheapo chinese job attracted by a seemingly huge battery but its battery life was less than half of the G5s and it got sent back so dont be swayed by that. The G5s has a metal case I have dropped it several times and its never given any problems. A s/h, new or refurbished one of those sub £100 would be a good buy. Sorry I dont have more experience on any other phones but when I find something good I hang on to it.

Al


There do seem to be a lot of "rugged" Android phones these days claiming waterproofness. e.g.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ulefone-Armor-X5-Waterproof-Extendable/dp/B07XK7F1RK/ref=pd_sbs_23_t_1/257-5535422-7520264?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B07XDGZ89K&pd_rd_r=755a63cf-7b5b-4e6a-aef4-d4e7aabf8d59&pd_rd_w=W6Als&pd_rd_wg=SjXr3&pf_rd_p=e44592b5-e56d-44c2-a4f9-dbdc09b29395&pf_rd_r=9750A7B5F7P1WCRBK19S&refRID=9750A7B5F7P1WCRBK19S&th=1

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RickH
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Re: Garmin vs Smartphone - are Garmin maps "special"?

Postby RickH » 6 Feb 2020, 12:56am

Jdsk wrote:This isn't the problem with my Edge 1000. If I run it with the hub dynamo alone as the voltage comes up it tells me that it's going into charging mode, and that obscures the display until I dismiss it.

That's not something I've ever seen on my Edge 1000. Admittedly I don't have a dynamo to test that scenario., but I've only ever seen the very small "charging" & "external power lost" messages in the strip at he top of the screen.

My old 605 put up a message that obscured the screen until you dismissed it but I've not seen anything like that on the 1000. Strange that there may be different behaviours.