With the likes of Google Earth and Streetview hitting the mainstream, the market for GPS recorders has suddenly come to the fore. The QT-1300 Travel Recorder Nano is the latest GPS recorder from QStarz, offering full functionality at a fraction of the size.
Read on for our experiences with the QT-1300.
Compared to most GPS units on the market today, the QT-1300’s dimensions of 37x61x7mm are tiny. The QT-1300 is comprised of black and gold coloured plastic with a high gloss black front featuring a swirly gold pattern on it. The device is well made with all seams joining accurately. The GPS comes complete with a permanent synthetic strap and keyring attached, bringing the total length of the unit (including keyring) to 105mm.
The unit has four LEDs providing status information for the QT-1300’s battery, GPS, bluetooth and data logging capabilities. On the side is a small multi-purpose button – also used to turn the unit on – as well as a mini USB port used for data transfers and charging. The mini USB port is protected from the elements by a rubber protector which sits almost flush when the port is not in use.
A long with the unit itself, QStarz packages the QT-1300 with a12-24V DC car adapter, a USB to mini USB cable, 3” driver CD and the usual multi-language Quick Guides and User Manuals. Along with a warranty card, our package also contained a 1 month free trial of locr PRO geo tagging website.
The QT-1300’s functions can be accessed in two separate ways. To fine tune the settings, the Travel Reorder (v4) software needs to be installed. The software not only allows you to view and analyze the data – more on this later – but the software can also fine tune the way the unit records your travels – how often to keep a log, ie: per x seconds, per x meters, etc.
When in use, the unit is operated via its multi-function button. While it is a neat solution to use one button for all functions, it can be a little problematic – particularly when using the unit for the first few travels. Turning the unit on requires a four second press, engaging the log requires a two second press while photo geo-tagging requires a brief (instant) press.
While this one button system works – and we did get used to it eventually – it did take some getting used to and occasionally resulted in the odd incorrect function being set: 2 seconds instead of an instant press results in the GPS log being stopped, for example, instead of marking a geo-tag.
To give this unit a test run we took it for a spin in our car to see how accurately it would record our travel on a particularly twisty hill climb just outside of Melbourne. As you can see from the various screen captures – blue line is the QT-1300’s recorded path – the GPS was remarkably accurate.
Using the included Qstarz Travel Recorder software V4 we were able to plot not only our path and distance traveled, but also our speed at different points and even our altitude. The screen capture below shows the software’s main view – our path is drawn in blue over a Google Map; The speed traveled is shown on the graph on the top right – note the dips in speed correspond to the corners along our travel path; and finally the right bottom graph depicts the altitude – in this case, accurately depicting our hill climb.
While we mainly tested the QT-1300 to record vehicular travels, we gave the unit some foot trials which demonstrated the unit could record this form of travel also. Inexplicably, we found that on foot the QT-1300 was slightly less accurate than in the car, however, becoming a little confused and occasionally incorrectly marking a turn.
Photo geo-tagging worked well – button pressing issues mentioned above notwithstanding. Pressing the button for an instant resulted in a geo-tag being placed on our travel route (which using the included software) could later be married to whatever photos were taken at that particular location and time.
The unit can also be used as a real-time GPS and connect to other equipment (laptops/PDAs/mobile phones, etc.) via Bluetooth. We managed to pair the unit to our Samsung D-900 mobile phone but due to an unrelated mobile phone problem, we were unable to test this particular functionality.
GPS Chip: MTK GPS Module
Frequency: L1, 1575.42Mhz
Channels: Super High 66 CH Tracking
Sensitivity: Tracking 165 dBm
Acquisition Rate: 1 second (Hot Start), 35 seconds (Cold Start)
Power: Built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery
Charging Time 1 hour (typical)
Bluetooth v1.2, Class 2
Run Time: Approx 12 hours/200,000 way points.
Overall, we really liked the GPS Nano – particularly as a multi-purpose car tracking device. While the photo geo-tagging is its main claim to fame – along with its ability to record your travels of course – we thought the unit would be a great way to track your car when you leave it at your trustworthy car dealer for servicing. When you pick up the car you will have a record of where your car has been and when, how far it has traveled and how it has been driven (speed).
Not to sound mundane, but beyond such cloak-and-dagger uses, the QT-1300 makes for an excellent recorder of your travels.
The only real improvement we would like to see in future revisions of the Nano, is task specific buttons so as to avoid the easily mistaken timed button presses.
Overall, we rate the QStarz QT-1300 Travel Recorder Nano 7/10.
The QT-1300 Travel Recorder Nano is available for around $170AU. For more information, visit QStarz website.