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QStarz SR-Q2100 GPS Tracker Review


Qstarz SR-Q2100UPDATE: Since writing this review, some functions on the GPS have stopped working and Qstarz haven’t responded to our emails asking for help. Because of our concerns about durability, we can’t really recommend this tracker.

We’re fairly traditional bike travellers. On tour, we try to minimise technology, rather than go for the newest gadget, thus our preference for paper maps over GPS.

So when QStarz asked us to review their new SR-Q2100 GPS sports recorder, we weren’t sure if we would like it. Would this be something useful, or just another thing to carry around and worry about recharging? We agreed to accept a demo model and try it out.

First, it’s important to understand what the SR-Q2100 does and doesn’t do. It is not a mapping GPS. That means, you can’t load maps onto it and get turn-by-turn directions or a view of the roads and geographical features in the area.

qstarzIt’s better to imagine this device as a sophisticated bike computer. On its big LCD screen, you get all the functions of a traditional bike computer – speed, distance, time travelled and a clock – along with some extras normally only found in GPS units.

The cost (listed for $140 U.S. but available as low as $100 U.S. online) also puts it in the same price bracket as high-end bike computers and basic GPS devices like the Garmin eTrex H ($269.95 from REI).

The QStarz SR-Q2100 will:

  • Log your path, so you can later download the route you’ve cycled and see it on Google Maps
  • Show which way is north with the digital compass
  • Give the current temperature
  • Allow you to geotag your photos, as long as you synchronize the clocks on your camera and the GPS
  • Let you set up to 99 waypoints for key destinations, such as a campsite or a friend’s house, and then gives the distance and general direction to each point from your current position (as the crow flies)
  • Perform fine in the rain because it’s waterproof

When we first got the recorder, we immediately loaded up the software on our computer that lets you download and edit the tracks from the GPS tracker to your computer. It’s all pretty intuitive and runs on Windows. No complaints there.

Next, we put it on Andrew’s bike using the included handlebar mount and took it for a ride. It took a few seconds longer to start up than we’d ideally like (QStarz advertises a 42-second cold start up time) by the time it found a satellite signal but within a minute we were up and running.

On the bike, the SR-Q2100 performed well. It gave us all the regular information we were used to with a standard bike computer, as well as some nice extras. We enjoyed knowing the current temperature and how far we were from our end point, although we never did figure out what to do with the azimuth reading that also appears on screen. Folks with experience in orienteering might get more out of that feature than we did.

Home, sweet homeWe particularly liked the ability to set a point and then be told when we were getting close. For example, we wanted to find one of the free camping sites in the Netherlands but they are not clearly marked with signs, so they are easy to miss. With this tracker, we used Google Maps before we left home to get the GPS co-ordinates for the campsite as well as the turns we had to make to reach the camping area. We saved all these points in the SR-Q2100 and then it conveniently beeped when we reached a turning point, so it was impossible to pass by the track we needed – something that can be a danger with paper maps.

What don’t we like? The stability of the handlebar mount was one downside. Although it initially seemed secure when we mounted it on Andrew’s bike, a few times he lightly knocked it with his arm accidentally. The tracker fell out of its mount and onto the road. There was no damage from these falls and the GPS continues to function well.

A few months after first starting to use the GPS tracker, the mount broke completely and we now have to keep the GPS tracker inside our map case.

Also, while the battery life was just as advertised – 25 hours – we would prefer a GPS unit that takes AA batteries, because you can always get an extra set from any shop. The SR-Q2100 has a built-in battery that will have to be recharged every few days on tour. While we enjoyed its benefits over the course of a long weekend, we aren’t so sure it we would always be able to keep it charged on a longer tour.

Knowing that we can rely on something and keep it charged, even when we might not find electricity for a week or more, is important to us – especially when that gadget is not only a GPS but also our bike computer.

It’s exactly that concern that leads to our mixed feelings about the SR-Q2100. Did it perform as promised? Absolutely. Can we see its appeal? Definitely. We’ll take it along on day trips and tours of up to 4 days or where we know we’ll be staying in a campsite at least a couple times, with access to electricity.

For longer adventures, however, we won’t be throwing out the paper maps and traditional bike computer just yet.

See the official QStarz page on the SR-Q2100

This review is based on a free sample, provided by QStarz. We always give our honest opinion in reviews. If we don’t like something, we’ll tell you, and if our opinion changes after extensive use, we’ll tell you that too.

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6 Responses to “QStarz SR-Q2100 GPS Tracker Review”

  1. Len says:

    I love my Garmin Edge 705. I can go to http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com and develop a route and download that route to my Edge. I can include elevation, turn by turn (and with it giving me turn warnings within as little as 50 ft), restaurants, camping, accomodations, all on my Edge. I’ve used it for cycling all throughout Asia, and it’s never failed me. Wouldn’t go on a tour without it.

  2. Becky says:

    I hate my Garmin Edge 305 – I actually sent it home. It had this nasty flaw of turning it self off. Seems there are some loose connections, and the vibration of being on the bike handle bars caused it turn off. The problem was, it was going to cost over $100 to fix. In addition, I had to lug along an external battery for charging the edge (same issue as the SR-Q2100).
    I agree with F&A, that anything that doesn’t take AA batteries doesn’t work well on a long trip. We used a Garmin etrex Vista HCx. The etrex allowed us to load maps – which turned out to be vary valuable in SE Asia, where the GPS maps were MUCH more accurate and detailed than anything we could find on paper.
    Note that we didn’t use it to replace our bike computers. When I sent the edge home, I bought a nicer bike computer, so we had daily temperatures on it. The only feature I really missed was elevation – I really like knowing how far I climbed (or have left to climb) and I have seen a cycle computer elevation was accurate.
    http://goingeast.ca

  3. wari says:

    I think I’d prefer the Dakota 20 for this, sure, it’s not a bike computer, but it’s small, the mount is very secure, and it takes AA batteries. Load it with free maps of anywhere in the world you need to be at, and that’s it, all in one resource. Of course the Etrex, etc works as well. I have a 705 and I love that on my bikes, and an Oregon 300 for general purpose use. Wished I had the Dakota 20 instead, as the 300 is HUGE!

    • friedel says:

      It would be great to have a GPS that takes maps and AA batteries. I guess you have to balance that against the cost though, twice as much as something like the QStarz model that we tested and other simple loggers.

      • wari says:

        If price were an issue, I’d have a standalone GPS, with a cheap bike computer. You can have a very good bike Computer, or a very good GPS, but you can never have both.

        QStarz seems to have made too many compromises, and is neither any one of them. But if this is your only choice, then I’d probably say, it’s not a bad tool to have. Just like my Edge 705. Good fitness logging device, not really a good bike computer, and of course, an ugly GPS with a non-standard logger. But it fits my purpose well, and is able to do GPS or bike computer things, when I need it.

        If you want to go really cheap, then a good bike computer, with a standard phone (iPhone, Android, Windows or Symbian assuming you already have one) will have the proper software to do whatever you need to do. Of course, being phones, you need some form of charging on the go capability.

  4. cristiano says:

    Well, if used along with a dynamo hub and this gadget from DAHON http://www.thinkbiologic.com/products/reecharge-power-pack) it could be a very nice setup.

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