Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reality Check: You Think Your Garmin Edge Is Expensive? Compared To Their Aviation Products, Maybe Not So Much - For What You Get.

The G1000 Avionics suite on a Beechcraft King Air.

No, that headline is not a poke at Garmin.  Matter of fact, I applaud their products, and it just dawned on me that I have been enjoying both their cycling and "In the Air" offerings for quite some time, now.  To anyone who has flown behind Garmin avionics, it would be an understatement to say they have revolutionized the industry.

What got me thinking about Garmin, in general, are the occasional email updates I get from them regarding anything newsworthy in their aviation business.  Thinking back, I remember one of the email headlines exclaiming, "Act now, and save up to $50,000 on a G1000 package." Well, I had a good laugh when I remembered how many people I have spoken with claim Edge Cycling Computers cost way too much.  

While the aforementioned email was about saving up to $50,000 USD via a trade-in program, it shows just how much money we are talking when it comes to Garmin's top of the line General Aviation (GA) avionics package.  While hard numbers are difficult to ascertain, being it is based upon the model of plane you have, and any necessary modifications, and/or problems the tech's encounter during an upgrade, tapping into my contacts in the aviation business, a purchase, and swap-out, of old, analog avionics for a G1000 package can begin at around $100,000 USD, and that is a really, really conservative estimate.   

The Edge 1000. Garmin's top of the line cycling computer.

Garmin's top of the line cycling computer is the Edge 1000, with a retail price of $599.00 for the bundle (down from its $700.00 introductory price).  It is an amazing piece of equipment, is quite capable, however, I just can't see popping for one to replace my reliable, trusty Edge 500 suite, which cost me under $200.00 USD for the bundle back in 2011.  However, that color, large-screened, turn-by-turn capability beasty sure is tempting. 

So, what is the point of this comparison?  Well, compared to other Garmin products, we really are getting a deal.  The sad part is, compared with their aviation products, capability-wise, we kinda' aren't.  The difference, I see, is something I call Manufactured Obsolescence on the Automotive/Motorcycling/Cycling side (I can't speak for their Marine products, being I have not skippered a commercial vessel in a really long time), versus the Aviation side.  In the air, pretty much all of the current technology, and features, are actually realized.  Meanwhile, back on the surface of the planet, it seems we are always asking why the components are not up to what is technologically capable at the given moment.  It just seems like Garmin, save for Aviation, is holding back on us.  To get the features we really want, we are expected to upgrade our GPS products on a yearly basis.  If you want more, you have to pay. 

Pilots, on the other hand, are not expected to upgrade their instrument panels annually, so they pay, upfront, for all of the bells 'n whistles.  That is the Manufactured Obsolescence I was referring to, and it is not limited to just Garmin.  Across the range of consumer products, from purses to phones, from computers to cars, it is the engine of the Retail World.  So, there arises the obvious question: Are Garmin Aviation products overpriced, or are the Cycling products under-priced?  It all depends on how one chooses to look at it.  Hey, no one said life, and choices, were easy.

So, what can we, the consumer, do?  In reality, not much.  The only real choice we have is when, and at what price-point, we chose to dig-in and make an investment in something.  And, no, I don't have any affiliation, nor beef, with Garmin.  I just struck me to point out that while their Aviation side leaves me for want-of-nothing, their Cycling side has always left me wishing for more. 

However, for what it is, and what the Edge units are capable of, cyclists do seem to be getting a pretty decent deal.  It all comes down to personal perspective.

Pilots would agree.


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