External navigators - why bother ?

Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#1
I am a gadget junkie, plus I have been using garmin on my motorcycle for a while and absolutely love it. So I started digging in to edge 800 plus went through articles on this forum on smartphones as GPS devices.

In short, I don't see what a garmin device like edge 800 can provide on top of a smartphone.

With my iPhone 5
- I can use variety of sensors. Fr example wahoo fitness iPhone app + wahoo fitness heart rate monitor + wahoo fitness speed and cadence monitor beats equivalent garmin set hands down plus wahoo fitness can export data from iPhone to about 10 fitness sites including training peaks, garmin connect, strava, mapmyfitness etc etc. I am sure garmin will tie you to itself
- the 'you can't navigate if you don't have SoftBank or phone signal' argument is not relevant. iPhone 3GS onwards all iPhones have inbuilt gps chip. Mapfan or gogonavi will download and cache whole Japan map on you phone using under 2gb. Once you have it take out the SIM card and navigate, you will be able to see ur location on the cached map and even navigate. Gogonavi will let you set and edit paths without the need of a phone connection.
- battery life - I am sure edge 800 will beat iPhone 5 here but here is the deal - yesterday I used my iPhone with wahoo fitness heart rate blue tooth, GPS navigation to Komae and back home, ride recording, Bluetooth connection to my earphones with music running all the time and 2 phone calls plus some messaging. In about 5 and half hours I used up 60% of my battery. For 2500 yen I got a 10,0000 mah battery weighing 230 grams and can charge my iPhone at least 4 times. I recon this combo is way ahead of garmins capability. Note all my songs are either wav or 320 Kbps mp3 point being they consume more battery.
- accuracy - surely garmin can be more accurate than iPhone GPS chip but to be honest the deviation is not that big. I am using iPhone for geocaching both in Japan and abroad for couple of years now and the results are very acceptable.

Now where edge 800 seems to have an edge
- virtual partner - would love to have this
- water proof ? This is a goodie but I don't plan to ride in wet. Plus I won't think anybody will leave their phone back home meaning phone will still have to be carried and protected from rain

So what are your thoughts ? I am not attempting to put water on edge owners here but just laid out my thoughts as I am not really sure who garmin is targeting to sell edge devices too and how long they will keep this targeted consumer segment.
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,512
639
133
Kanazawa
#2
Sometimes space here seems to be curved/warped--take off in one direction and follow a road, make what you think is a proper turn or two to keep going...

...and then end up back where your started, or somewhere completely different than you expected to be. :(

Mostly I know where I am and where I'm going, but when I don't, compass heading can be nice.
 

theDude

Maximum Pace
Oct 7, 2011
773
111
63
Tokyo
app.strava.com
#3
Why risk it?

Your phone is your primary contact interface when you are out. What will you do when you have 20% left and you have a problem? That's not much for what you might need. At least bring a battery charger if this is the case.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,002
176
83
Tokyo
#4
Battery won't last two hours with the screen on...
Touch screen and sweaty fingers don't work well, especially with your SP in an additional case.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,430
874
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#5
What will you do when you have 20% left and you have a problem?
A 10,000 mAh battery will solve that problem, because your iPhone will never go down to 20% unless you ride multiple days on one battery charge. In fact the phone battery will stay at 100% or close to it until the USB battery runs out of power.

The drawback of the smartphone / USB battery combo is that it's bulkier than a Garmin on its own.
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#6
Sometimes space here seems to be curved/warped--take off in one direction and follow a road, make what you think is a proper turn or two to keep going...

...and then end up back where your started, or somewhere completely different than you expected to be. :(

Mostly I know where I am and where I'm going, but when I don't, compass heading can be nice.
3GS onwards all iPhones have compass :) I am not sure about other SP's
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#7
This really depends on the amount of stuff you want to schlep around. If you are OK with the extra bits and pieces, then the aux battery is awesome. Actually I used the Joe provided me to recharge everything AFTER I rode. (Thanks, Joe!) During the ride, though, even my smallish Japanese 'feature phone' starts to feel big and heavy. And having it pound against my kidneys whilst in a high effort climb for a couple hours was close to my limit. I was about ready to chuck it! (Now I know why Pantani tossed his ear ring!)

Same reason, again, why I don't like the iPhone.
- Heavy
- Water kills it
- Battery life is short
- Cumbersome to use when gloved or otherwise finger challenged
<repeat above several times as a mantra>

My Nokia or Sony feature phone.
- Very light
- Nothing kills it - even soaking in bathtub or sink overnight
- Battery lasts for days
- Simple dialing UX (buttons)
- No bothersome carrier locking and runs on any network (tri band) I can get a SIM for.

A 10,000 mAh battery will solve that problem, because your iPhone will never go down to 20% unless you ride multiple days on one battery charge. In fact the phone battery will stay at 100% or close to it until the USB battery runs out of power.

The drawback of the smartphone / USB battery combo is that it's bulkier than a Garmin on its own.
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#8
Why risk it?

Your phone is your primary contact interface when you are out. What will you do when you have 20% left and you have a problem? That's not much for what you might need. At least bring a battery charger if this is the case.
Well you risk running out of phone power even if you carry it in addition to an external navigator. In addition to a battery that can charge your phone 4 times 0 to 100% I recon carrying a 50 gms charge to use with ad won't be much of an issue
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#9
Battery won't last two hours with the screen on...
Touch screen and sweaty fingers don't work well, especially with your SP in an additional case.
That's a good point, I wasn't really running LCD on all the time. I will try this on next time and see how much it runs then. I also agree that touch screen don't work perfectly when inside an additional case, sometimes it's really irritating.
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#10
A 10,000 mAh battery will solve that problem, because your iPhone will never go down to 20% unless you ride multiple days on one battery charge. In fact the phone battery will stay at 100% or close to it until the USB battery runs out of power.

The drawback of the smartphone / USB battery combo is that it's bulkier than a Garmin on its own.
Yes agreed. Apart from the additional battery I have I am waiting for Mophie to release their iPhone 5 version. Integrates will the iPhone and quite compact while doubling the life of inner battery
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#11
Good luck finding an outlet! Unless of course you've checked into the Outlet Motel. Another thing (at least in Japan) is that most iPhone users are on Softbank which has the most notoriously crap coverage in Japan. Especially in the mountains where you are most likely to need it. I remember, in fact, a situation not in the distant past where one of our riders had fallen and everyone scrambled to make a call. I believe the only success was with a Docomo unit...



Well you risk running out of phone power even if you carry it in addition to an external navigator. In addition to a battery that can charge your phone 4 times 0 to 100% I recon carrying a 50 gms charge to use with ad won't be much of an issue
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#12
This really depends on the amount of stuff you want to schlep around. If you are OK with the extra bits and pieces, then the aux battery is awesome. Actually I used the Joe provided me to recharge everything AFTER I rode. (Thanks, Joe!) During the ride, though, even my smallish Japanese 'feature phone' starts to feel big and heavy. And having it pound against my kidneys whilst in a high effort climb for a couple hours was close to my limit. I was about ready to chuck it! (Now I know why Pantani tossed his ear ring!)

Same reason, again, why I don't like the iPhone.
- Heavy
- Water kills it
- Battery life is short
- Cumbersome to use when gloved or otherwise finger challenged
<repeat above several times as a mantra>

My Nokia or Sony feature phone.
- Very light
- Nothing kills it - even soaking in bathtub or sink overnight
- Battery lasts for days
- Simple dialing UX (buttons)
- No bothersome carrier locking and runs on any network (tri band) I can get a SIM for.
Ok I can take it that any additional gram on your body can be a bother, however my phone and external battery can be on the handlebar same way you would mount the navigator.

Waterproof ? That kills iPhone straightaway compared to edge 800.

Isn't the later part of your post supporting SP over external navi ? :) it's just a different SP recommendation :)

Btw, an extendable battery also helps in other ways. I can charge my Bluetooth earphones without. Without regular voice work out updates, music and a occasional phone call pedaling would be very isolated :)
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,430
874
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#13
Keeping the LCD on all the time will discharge your phone battery in a hurry. It's not really an option on a lengthy bike ride unless you have *very* beefy external power. The LCD is by far the biggest power consumer!

If you're going to use the phone as a "flight instrument" for instant speed readout, heart rate, cadence, etc. as opposed to mere logging, occasional map checks, etc. then it's not going to work as well as a Garmin because either it will consume a lot more power or you'll have to push a button to see any of those numbers.
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#14
Good luck finding an outlet! Unless of course you've checked into the Outlet Motel. Another thing (at least in Japan) is that most iPhone users are on Softbank which has the most notoriously crap coverage in Japan. Especially in the mountains where you are most likely to need it. I remember, in fact, a situation not in the distant past where one of our riders had fallen and everyone scrambled to make a call. I believe the only success was with a Docomo unit...
Actually a external battery is stronger case then, no ? :) especially if you use multiple units that suck power. Btw I don't mean to be argumentative about multiday rides on cycle as you guys are much more experienced. I have done quite a bit n motorcycles - multidays with camping etc. many times I could fine outlets but won't stop cause I wanted to ride. External battery served well in such conditions.

SoftBank vs docomo - absolutely agree on the coverage. SoftBank sucks big time. I remember when my rider friend crashed in yamamichi near biwako and I had to go some 25kmd from crash point to get the signal. However from navigation perspective only this point is irrelevant, no ?
 

AlanW

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Jan 30, 2007
1,214
435
103
Tokyo
#15
Some advantages of a Garmin
Smaller
Lighter (although most people carry a phone as well).
Tough (as in, bounce down the road at 30 km/h unharmed tough).
Touchscreen works with any gloves.
Waterproof, although some users have water ingress problems. You say you don't plan to ride in the rain, but even the mighty iPhone 5 cannot control the weather. Phone can easily be kept dry in a ziplock in a jersey pocket, less so out on the bars; with Garmin units the rain does not matter.
Upload to any fitness site via tcx or gpx files, so not restricted.
Works with power meters.
Barometric altimeter is very much more accurate than GPS based elevation
GPS receiver and chipset seem more accurate based on various web studies, especially in wooded, shaded, or built up areas.
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#16
Keeping the LCD on all the time will discharge your phone battery in a hurry. It's not really an option on a lengthy bike ride unless you have *very* beefy external power. The LCD is by far the biggest power consumer!

If you're going to use the phone as a "flight instrument" for instant speed readout, heart rate, cadence, etc. as opposed to mere logging, occasional map checks, etc. then it's not going to work as well as a Garmin because either it will consume a lot more power or you'll have to push a button to see any of those numbers.
Point taken, I will have to do a battery check wi LCD on, which is the next ride's test.

On edge 800 can you set destination or edit route, set routes on the fly ? Or you have to work that bit out on computer before you start ?
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,430
874
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#17
I can charge my Bluetooth earphones without. Without regular voice work out updates, music and a occasional phone call pedaling would be very isolated :)
On Half-Fast Cycling rides we have a "no earphone" rule, which I completely agree with. I would never ride with earphones, though I love music.

Not only is it illegal in Japan to ride wearing earphones (and the police occasionally stop cyclists for it), it can also be dangerous because it can be more difficult to notice noises of approaching vehicles over the music. With speakers in a car your ears are not covered, you can still pick up more outside sounds, plus you have a couple of mirrors and a lot less wind noise.

On a bike you should have as much input as you can get if you want to avoid getting injured or killed.

When I get a phone call on my bike, I pull over and stop to take the call. It's the only safe option. Talking on the phone while you're driving or cycling is highly distracting. Studies have shown that "hands free" phones have virtually the same accident risks as hand held phones in vehicles, because the problem is not the one hand that holds the phone but the brain that deals with the caller instead of the road situation.
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#18
Some advantages of a Garmin
Smaller
Lighter (although most people carry a phone as well).
Tough (as in, bounce down the road at 30 km/h unharmed tough).
Touchscreen works with any gloves.
Waterproof, although some users have water ingress problems. You say you don't plan to ride in the rain, but even the mighty iPhone 5 cannot control the weather. Phone can easily be kept dry in a ziplock in a jersey pocket, less so out on the bars; with Garmin units the rain does not matter.
Upload to any fitness site via tcx or gpx files, so not restricted.
Works with power meters.
Barometric altimeter is very much more accurate than GPS based elevation
GPS receiver and chipset seem more accurate based on various web studies, especially in wooded, shaded, or built up areas.
I agree with all of what you say. I use garmin on my motorcycle and its a life saver. When you say upload to any fitness site, can edge 800 upload data from sensors like speed/cadence/HR meters as well to all sites ?
 
Dec 7, 2012
63
1
18
Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo
#20
On Half-Fast Cycling rides we have a "no earphone" rule, which I completely agree with. I would never ride with earphones, though I love music.

Not only is it illegal in Japan to ride wearing earphones (and the police occasionally stop cyclists for it), it can also be dangerous because it can be more difficult to notice noises of approaching vehicles over the music. With speakers in a car your ears are not covered, you can still pick up more outside sounds, plus you have a couple of mirrors and a lot less wind noise.

On a bike you should have as much input as you can get if you want to avoid getting injured or killed.

When I get a phone call on my bike, I pull over and stop to take the call. It's the only safe option. Talking on the phone while you're driving or cycling is highly distracting.
Some wise man once said - all fun things in life are either dangerous, illegal or married to somebody else :)

I agree with you on the general rule and illegality on earphones while riding however this one will be very difficult for me to give up when I am riding alone. I usually have earphones running in my helmet in long motorcycle rides, didn't find them taking my focus off riding
Although I know they are illegal.