We've poured some time into the Garmin Edge 1030, and here are our first impressions of the new range topping device

We’ve had the Garmin Edge 1030 for a month or so now, enough time to put it through its paces.

Immediately, it’s an improvement on Garmin’s last release, the Garmin Edge 820 and it has wholesale design changes from any of Garmin’s previous offerings, including the Edge 1000. Here are six of our first impressions.

Garmin Edge 1030: A fairly significant design change…

The Garmin Edge 1030

A new design

It’s out with the old and in with the new for the Garmin Edge 1030, and by new we mean a car’s sat-nav, because that’s what the device really looks like.

It’s a sizeable makeover that has actually done really nothing to reduce the Garmin’s size, and it enters the fray as the largest computer available, bigger than its predecessor the Garmin 1000.

The pull down screen on the Garmin Edge 1030

A new pull down screen makes navigating the device easier

The dashboard is also new, with some updated colours and a nice white background.

The pull down menu from the top is also different, with an updated layout and access to some additional screens, including notifications, controls, weather and Strava segment explore.

… But it still has some fundamental design flaws

Bumper buttons on the Garmin Edge 1030

Buttons infuriatingly at the bottom of the computer

Garmin hasn’t quite hit a homerun with the 1030, though, and it still has some niggling design flaws.

For starters, the buttons are still at the bottom of the computer, not like the Garmin 1000 which had them on top. This, coupled with the size of the Garmin 1030 and the fact it’s a tight fit on a normal K-Edge mount, makes getting to the buttons a bit of a squeeze.

Garmin also hasn’t taken any design cues from modern smart phones and the Garmin is hefty (heavier than an iPhone 5s) and has a big bezel around the screen. It’s not exactly cutting edge.

It’s marginally easier to set up

Garmin Edge 1030

Easier to set up

Happily, Garmin’s re-worked internals have made setting up the device a bit easier than with models passed, and navigating the bewildering amount of data fields is easier than before.

Nearly everything is customised within activity profiles, including data screens, auto features and navigation and more. It makes your profiles completely unique, so you can set them up for specific bikes.

Now, when you add a data screen it lets you tick multiple boxes, such as Ascent Remaining, Ascent to Next. Re-ordering and layout is all done through tapping and double tapping. The screen order is changed through a new software feature which makes things nice and simple.

The best bet would be to spend a solid half an hour doing it and then get out and ride, which’ll tell you what you need.

It’d be nice to see Garmin have a system where you can auto download the features and setup from your other Garmin devices, like when you restore an iPhone from iTunes.

The screen is definitely better, but it’s no mobile phone

Pull down options on the Garmin Edge 1030

One of the new pull down options

Those that have struggled with the Garmin Edge 820 and the likes of Garmin’s touch hardware before will be relieved to hear that the 1030 is a significant improvement.

It rarely takes more than one touch to have a response (occasionally two with gloves) and there’s a lot less lag than before.

It also no longer registers rain drops as touches, and it remains responsive in the wet, whereas previous models would start losing control.

But this is the modern day, and i’d like my cycling computer screen to be as responsive as my mobile phone, but maybe that’s just me.

Navigation takes a leap forward

The back of the Garmin Edge 1030

A larger map is no doubt one of the benefits of the bigger screen on the 1030, and in conjunction with this navigation has been improved all round.

Garmin has introduced Trendline, which benefits those that like their Garmin to organise their rides for them, rather than plot them in Strava. Basically, it crowd sources the best cycling roads in your location and plots the route accordingly.

Watch: How to upload a Srava route to your Garmin

It’s also fast at picking up the GPS signal, which so far has been accurate and without sudden drops or losses.

On a more frustrating note, Garmin still hasn’t introduced a pinch and zoom like you would do on Google Maps. It’s this and the clunky querty keyboard that still makes me more likely to reach for my phone should I get lost than my Garmin.

But it feels back to square one with buggy software

The design of the Garmin Edge 1030

It’s no mobile phone

Sometimes when Garmin release a new product it can feel a little like starting again. It’s a feeling I’ve felt more than once when trying to get my Garmin to connect to my mobile phone.

It consistently wouldn’t connect via Bluetooth, even when forgotten and trying to re-pair. This was a process tried at least five times with no luck, and then randomly worked again. It’s typical teething problems that we’re hoping future updates will iron out.

On a happier note, ANT+ connections were spot on and I had no problem syncing my SRAM eTap or heart rate monitor to the new device.

Our (early) conclusions…

The Garmin Edge 1030 is a development on what has come before, and the touchscreen is a significant improvement on the Garmin Edge 820.

We’re yet to put it through its paces against the likes of the Wahoo Elemnt and Elemnt Bolt, and we want to give the rider to rider messaging a whirl, too. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for further updates.