Garmin 540 and 840 and why you would upgrade?

There are plenty of resources online that do a great job really deep diving into everything from accuracy to battery life on new GPS computers and we wanted to offer an alternate type of review. The type of review that hopes to answer what a typical cyclist would likely see/feel when they upgrade to a new 540 and 840 computer from a device that is a few generations old. 

The display remains at 2.6" in size which is bigger than something like the Wahoo v1 bolt which measured 2.2" and a Garmin 520 at 2.3" so if you are upgrading from an older device, this is one of the main point of difference you would see as well as the upgraded screen itself. The devices have a higher res screen which makes everything that much more legible, especially out on the open road.

The buttons on the 540 are both tactile and a pleasure to use. With or without gloves there should be no problems operating and navigating the 540 series. We do think with the revised UI that there is a little more button presses needed to get to certain features but like anything, once setup and dialled in, there should be minimal button presses required. The 840 series has had a massive upgrade in that the touchscreen now reflects what we have experienced on the 1040 series. Quick and responsive, the screen is now a pleasure to touch and navigate in-line with what you would expect with smartphones in this day and age. Navigating is also quicker with the touchscreen and even on the road, it is easy to hit the screen accurately. 

Some smaller but nice changes are the replaceable mounts as well as the USB-C port. The advantages are obvious and in practice should mean that you have less chargers and cables at home whilst having a device which is a little more future proofed.

The biggest upgrade is the battery life. We tested a standard 540 (non solar) and after a 3hr activity (a typical 50km ride with 2hrs of actual riding time), the battery life utilised was approx. 17%. We did note that the automatic screen brightness setting was on the low side defaulting to 10% of brightness in day light whilst we preferred to run it closer to 50% which is what we did when we got the battery usage above. Of course with the Solar devices you are able to crank up the brightness and still have more than adequate run time.

This raised an interesting question to us, who are the Solar devices intended for? Whilst we would all like to think that we would go out there and ride for a full days straight, the likely scenario is that you have a little more buffer in-between charges and if you are stuck starting a ride with minimal battery on your devices, in conjunction with the battery saver mode, you should still be able to utilise your device and track your activity just fine. There is obviously the real world use-case of multi-stage events requiring the full prolonged battery life of these Solar devices with no charges required so if you are orientated towards these type of activities, the Solar devices are a no brainer.

Like we pre-faced, we wont get into the whole GNSS, Climbpro, Realtime stamina etc etc. They are all worthy of your attention and part of the reason why you would upgrade but we felt that in the end, we just wanted to give a quick concise overview as to what you would likely experience on the surface when you upgrade to the new 540 and 840 series of devices. So the final question, which device is right for me? 

540 : Pick this device if you are doing shorter rides or are quite diligent in charging your device in-between activities. 
540 Solar : Pick this device if you want the cheapest and longest running GPS computer you could possibly buy.
840 : Pick the 840 if you want to fully experience the smoothness of the new user interface. If you like to change settings and pages frequently mid ride and if you use the maps a fair bit in navigating.
840 Solar : as per above except you are orientated towards longer rides or you are just slightly lazy in-between charges or want to do monster events/rides. 

Hopefully this has given you all a quick concise overview as to which new Garmin 540 and 840 is the right one for you. As always you can shop the range through us here.

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