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Qstarz BT-1000P Review


1090_qstarz_bt_q1000_bigThe Qstarz BT-1000P is a GPS logging unit that we carry on our bicycle.

It initially caught our eye because we loved the idea of being able to track our path but didn’t want to purchase an expensive GPS system with a screen that would be heavy on battery usage and need new maps for every country. We also prefer paper maps for navigating so a GPS navigation unit seemed excessive.

We asked Qstarz for one of their loggers to test and these are our thoughts after 2 months of using it.

Some of its features:

  • Tracks our movements and altitude
  • Lithium-ion battery life up to 32 hours
  • Compatible with Nokia BL-6C battery (very cheap)
  • Lightweight (65g with battery)
  • Mini USB for charging and connecting to a computer
  • Compact size (46mm x 72mm x 20mm)
  • Adjustable recording intervals
  • Logs up to 200,000 records
  • One button logs waypoints

What we like

Overall we’re quite pleased with the unit and would recommend it to others. We appreciate its:

Low Cost – At $80-100 U.S. you won’t worry if you lose it and its black case seems quite robust, in case it gets dropped off the bike. The battery is included in that price, along with a miniUSB cord, a car charger, computer software and manual.
Small Size – It fits well inside the map case on our handlebar bag. This also protects the logger from rain.
Easy operation – There are only two buttons to figure out. A sliding button on the left-hand side is what you push from ‘off’ to ‘log’ to start the tracker. Just wait for an orange light to start blinking (a steady light means it’s still acquiring a signal) and away you go. The large red button on top of the unit is what you push to mark points of interest or waypoints during your trip.
Battery Life – The unit lives up to its advertised 32 hours of battery life (in ideal conditions). We regularly use it for about 25 hours (4-6 days of cycling) before recharging it and have only seen the low-battery indicator come on once (indicates about 10% charge left).

Downloading Tracks

Once you’ve recorded a track, you can connect the unit to your computer to download the data, using the miniUSB cord. You do this using the software that comes with the logger. It’s simple to install on Windows.

The amount of data to transfer from the unit depends on the amount of time you’ve been using it. We’ve found that copying the data, saving the information and clearing the unit at least once every 1-2 days is necessary since the amount of information to transfer can get unmanageable. Also, days later you may forget which specific waypoints you’ve marked.

Once the tracks are loaded into the program, it’s quick to label, and join tracks together. The interface will display the altitude for the day, speeds, and overall route of the day. If you’re connected to the internet, you can view your track overlaid onto Google Maps.

Once we’ve finished importing our tracks and labelling them in a photo editor, they look like this:

gowrieparkmeander.jpg

Things to Improve

Mostly we’re happy with the unit but we think there are a few things that could be improved:

  • Under bright sunlight conditions, the lights can be hard to see, to determine if the unit is operating or is turned off.
  • The software is limiting. The standard graph, for example, puts altitude on one axis and time on the other. We would prefer a graph showing altitude compared to kilometers travelled. With further time, we’ll try and find something a bit nicer to display the information we’ve collected.
  • There are a few spelling mistakes in the software, which detracts slightly from the overall impression
  • It would be nice to ‘drag and drop’ the tracks directly off the unit to a folder on our laptop, rather than going through the software
What Next?
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