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I've been using a CatEye Stealth 50 GPS device to record some of my longer rides. I've not been using it for commuting though because my commute is only ~30 minutes, and the CatEye takes 3-5 minutes to start recording data. I don't want to add 10% to my commute time just for GPS lock :)*

Would upgrading to one of the Garmin devices like an Edge 500/510/800/810 make a significant difference in initial lock time? (I'm somewhat spoiled by my cell phone and car that achieve locks almost instantly)

* That said, the CatEye was only $150, and at that price I couldn't be happier with its performance.

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Short answer, it depends. See this question –  Kibbee Mar 2 at 0:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

All of the Garmin/Cateye devices have similar GPS hardware and will take similar amounts of time to get a lock. I don't think upgrading to another device is going to help you there.

Your cell phone is faster because it uses A-GPS, which uses the cell tower data stream to download GPS ephemeris and almanac data.

I asked a question a while ago about how to optimise getting a lock which might help you out.

I've found it best that after the GPS is turned on, it's best not to move until it gets a lock. If it's downloading and constantly getting interrupted by moving buildings, it takes a lot longer to get a lock.

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A lot of the lock time depends on where you are to begin with - I have a standalone Garmin in my car, and it takes far longer to lock in cities when getting started than when I'm at home in the country. –  Batman Mar 1 at 21:43
    
My Garmin Oregon 450 has a lock by the time it boots (30 seconds). 3-5 minutes is completely unacceptable. –  Kibbee Mar 2 at 0:39
    
@Kibbee It depends where you are. At my house it's almost instant. At work though in the city it can take up to 10 minutes. –  Mac Mar 2 at 3:03
    
:sigh: That's annoying. Guess I have to rig up a waterproof cell phone holder thing then :) –  Billy ONeal Mar 2 at 8:02
    
I also feel car GPSes lock faster and they don't have data connection. I don't think I wait for it to lock before driving. Any reason for that? –  imel96 Mar 3 at 4:10

Not all GPS devices are the same... It comes down to the antenna and what it is looking for.

Garmin Edge 500 uses the US GPS satellites Garmin Edge 510 looks for both US (GPS) and Russian (GLONASS) satellites, typically resulting in a quicker lock.

I have no experience with CatEye devices, but my Garmins typically take 20-30 seconds. It does take longer to lock if I set it in a window vs outside, the more clear line of sight to most of the sky the quicker it is.

As others have said, for the best results, don't move the device when you turn it on, let it get a good lock before you begin your ride.

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That's interesting. I updated your post with a citation on the 510 using GLONASS. –  Mac Mar 3 at 22:29
    
The lock procedure is quite complicated, and can vary the lock time a lot.. but where I'd expect my Garmin Edge 500 (GPS only) to lock in about 20-30 seconds, I'd expect my Edge 510 (GPS+GLONASS) to take around 5-10 seconds. –  dbr Mar 22 at 2:37

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