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The Edge 1030 is the latest and greatest from Garmin, packed with basically every feature that you could ever dream up, but it is notably more expensive than the 820. The Edge 1030 has an MSRP of $600 [see on Garmin.com] and the 820 has an MRSP of $400 [check price on Amazon].
In terms of functionality, the Edge 1030 and 820 are very similar. Both have pre-loaded cycling maps from Garmin and turn-by-turn navigation. Both have GPS & GLONASS, an altimeter, and support the vast majority of cycling accessories out there from Garmin and other brands that use ANT+. These include speed/cadence sensors, heart rate monitors, power meters, Varia Rear View Radar System, UT800 cycling light, and others.
Of course, both of them track your cycling workouts, providing all of the basic stats such as speed, pace, etc. as well as the more advanced metrics such as FTP, wattage, etc. (with select accessories). Both work with Garmin Connect and relay your smartphone notifications including the weather. Under the hood, they are strikingly similar. GroupTrack, LiveTrack, Incident Detection, and training plans are other features they have in common.
Why get the 1030 over the 820?
There are three major reasons that you’d get the 1030 over the 820, however, in reality we are splitting hairs here since both are very capable cycling computers.
Larger display — the 1030 has a 3.5″ display while the 820 has a far smaller display at only 2″. This means you have more screen real estate to display your cycling stats and incoming notifications. It also means that using the touchscreen is much easier because you have more room to interact with the software. This seems like a minor point, but when you’re on the side of the road at 25 MPH, you’ll be thankful that you have a larger, easier to read display.
Rider-to-Rider Messaging — As of the date we’re posting this, the Edge 1030 is the only computer to support rider-to-rider messaging where you can reply to other cyclists using pre-written messages. If you’re riding in a group with other cyclists that have an Edge 1030 you can actually reply to their messages with canned responses. I can imagine scenarios where this would be useful, but it’s definitely not a feature that everyone will use. With that being said, the 1030 is high end so it really is targeting only serious cyclists anyways. This feature will also likely come to the 820 in the future.
Improved Battery Life — The Edge 1030 has around 20 hours of battery life on a single charge while the 820 is 15 hours maximum. Anyone doing double centuries and longer rides might really appreciate the improvement to battery life. On top of that, however, the Edge 1030 is compatible with the new Garmin Charge battery pack [see on Garmin.com], which gives you an extra 40 hours of battery life. You can use Garmin Charge while you’re riding as well.
The main reason is price. As noted above, it’s $200 cheaper than the 1030. In fact, we would not be surprised to see it even cheaper every once in a while on Amazon. With that being said, if you’re not all that concerned with price, the Edge 1030 is a beast and is indeed the better device overall. It really comes down to price, size, battery life, and extra features. If you care about having a larger display, better battery life, and a few extra features, the Edge 1030 is the way to go. If you don’t need battery life up to 20 hours and you’re fine with a 2″ display size, the Edge 820 is a no brainer.