In this post I’m going to compare the characteristics and features of the Garmin Edge 510 versus its predecessor, the Edge 500.
The eagle-eyed (or perhaps elephant-memoried) amongst you may recall that I am the proud owner of the 510 version.
I did seriously consider purchasing the 500, despite the newer model being available, but ultimately succumbed to ‘shiny new thing’ syndrome.
But let’s put a (metaphorical) cool towel over our heads and consider the two options side by side to see if I made the right decision (and perhaps help you in your decision-making process as well).
How Much Do The Edge 500 and 510 Weigh?
The crucial first question to ask of anything that you plan to attach to your bike (other than if that ‘anything’ is, in fact, you).
The Edge 500 wins this round. It comes in at 56.7g versus the 510’s elephantine 80g. Essentially that’s a difference of one packet of Walkers crisps (the smallest size that you get in multipacks) [‘chips’ to those of an American persuasion]. It might make all the difference…
Whilst we’re on size (sort of), both models are the same depth. The 510 is a third of a centimetre wider and 1.3cm longer. In my (most humble) opinion, the 510 (which I’ve just lined up against my iPhone 3GS) is certainly not large.
Despite giving this section pride of place in the comparison, I’d say that the size and weight of the two GPS devices should not hold too much sway when deciding between the two.
Key Features In Common
The 510 and 500 perform the same fundamental function. That is, to use GPS to calculate (and then display) your speed whilst riding and to record the route you took. Both devices have barometric altimeters that record your elevation data and thermometers to capture temperature information.
The two versions record other data as well (including power, cadence and heart rate), provided you have the appropriate sensors attached to you or the bike.
Once you’ve finished your ride, both devices can be connected to your computer in order to upload the recorded data, either into Garmin’s own system (Garmin Connect) or a third party app (e.g. Strava, MapMyRide).
You can also send data back the other way. Having created a route on your computer using either Garmin Connect or another system (e.g. RideWithGPS), you can upload it to either version of the Edge 5xx and then follow the course whilst you ride. Bear in mind that neither the 500 or the 510 can overlay these routes onto maps or provide a ‘sat nav’ experience whilst riding – you’d need either the Edge 800 or 810 for more navigational features.
What Are The Main Differences?
The most obvious visual difference between the 510 and the 500 is that the former has a colour screen whereas the latter was old skool grayscale.
In terms of using the devices, the 510 has a touch screen, with the majority of features and screens accessed by navigating menus on the screen itself. The 500 is operated by the two buttons on each side of the unit (i.e. there are four in total).
Under the hood, the 510 uses both GPS satellites and GLONASS (the Russian version) whereas the 500 just uses the former. This means that the 510 is generally quicker to ‘lock on’ to a target (er, a satellite) after you’ve switched it on, and it has a higher degree of accuracy (although for most people’s purposes, I’m sure the GPS-only accuracy is sufficient).
A big difference between the two devices, certainly as far as the marketing of the Edge 510 is concerned, is the smartphone connectivity feature on the newer model.
Once paired with your iPhone or Android phone (via Bluetooth), you can be ‘live tracked’ by whoever you choose to grant access to. As well as seeing where you are and where you’ve been, they can see the other data you are generating (average speed, cadence, heart rate etc). Your web-connected granny can monitor your cadence from the comfort of her sitting room, making sure it stays within an acceptable range.
The smartphone-pairing makes for easy uploading of your ride data to Garmin Connect. Once configured, whenever you save a ride on your Edge 510, it’ll automatically be uploaded via your phone to the Garmin ‘cloud’.
The wireless data transfer link can be used in the opposite direction. Create a route on Garmin Connect (on your computer), open the route in the Garmin smartphone app and then hit the ‘Send To Device’ button. Eh violin – it’s on your Garmin, ready to use.
Are The Wireless Features ‘Worth It’?
I’ll leave it up to you to judge how important wireless connectivity is in your buying decision [he says, neatly avoiding the need to give an answer].
The Garmin Edge promo video (which I linked to in the section above) certainly makes them look very cool. Using the app does involve less hassle than attaching the device using a USB cable (and means you don’t have to switch on the computer then and there).
That said, I’ve literally only just installed the Garmin app over the course of writing this post (almost 4 months after I started using the 510) and I haven’t found the more manual upload process particularly onerous.
Partly the delay was due to my misconception that the Edge uses Bluetooth Smart (the lower energy version, which is only available on iPhones from 4S onwards) to communicate with a smartphone rather than ‘normal’ Bluetooth. It does use the standard Bluetooth protocol (hence why it was a misconception…).
Moreover, and although I haven’t tested it, having the phone linking to the Edge and transmitting the data out into the ether is likely to overwhelm the poor battery performance on my 3GS. This was one of the main reasons for switching to a dedicated bike GPS device in the first place.
For me, the ability to ‘live track’ is likely to be something of a novelty feature (primarily because I have no one desperate to sit by their computer watching me plodding along). I can see it being useful for spectators looking to find you on the RideLondon route.
I can see me getting far more use out of the wireless upload facility, and the ability to plan routes on the Garmin Connect website and easily push them to the Edge for use on the road.
Is The Edge 500 Still Supported By Garmin?
For some people, this is probably one of the biggies when it comes to deciding between the Edge 510 and the 500.
In this day and age, we don’t seem to buy an electrical gizmo and then use it til it dies. Instead, manufacturers release firmware updates that fix bugs and add new whizzbang features.
Over the course of its 4-year lifetime, the Edge 500 has received frequent firmware updates. According to the esteemed DC Rainmaker, we shouldn’t expect any future ones (at the very bottom of the comments on the linked post). What it is (and does) now will be what it is (and does) for all time.
That said, Garmin continues to make the 500, so it will obviously continue to support its customers that buy it. You’ve got to imagine that most of the fixable bugs in the unit will have been sorted out by now. In any event, I reckon that most people don’t use the new features that firmware updates bring, at least to begin with.
Cost! You Forgot About Cost!
Oh yes, sorry.
The Edge 500 is cheaper than the 510 (no shug, Sherlock).
Looked at through the Amazon price discombobulator (erm, their discounted prices, as opposed to RRP), the difference between the device-only prices is around £60 / $130.
This relationship pretty much holds true if you go for a package that includes the heart rate strap and the speed/cadence sensor. You pay £40–50 / $70-100 more than the base unit price if you want those extra tings.
I’ll come out now (not like that) and say I am very happy with my Edge 510 purchase.
Whilst I may not yet have got round to using all (many?) of its features, I’ve been pleased with the data it has recorded, its ease of use on the bike and the speed with which it has picked up satellite reception.
I’m looking forward to getting more to grips with the as-yet unused features. I want to try out live tracking (for kicks!) and make more use of the route planning to navigate unfamiliar areas without having to check Google maps every 5 minutes.
That said, pretty much all of the features I’ve used on the 510 so far are present and correct in the 500. I could have spent £60 less and been perfectly happy. Based on all that I’ve read, the Edge 500 is a great bike GPS device. If the wireless features don’t get you salivating and you’re prepared to forego a colour touch screen (the importance of which tends to lessen as time goes on), the 500 might well be the one to go for.
Which One Are You Going To Buy?
Note: These are affiliate links. If you click on one and then buy something, I get paid a commission. You pay the same price.
If you’re the owner of a Edge 500 already, or you had a 500 and upgraded to a 510, it would be great to hear your views in comments section below.
Equally, if you own a 510 and I’ve missed something fundamental (it happens…), do make sure to tell me.