One of the more prolific GPS manufacturers has to be Qstarz.
We have reviewed a number of their products of the last few years but the newly released Travel Recorder is the most fully featured receiver we have come across. The Qstarz BT-Q1000 features an outstanding endurance of 32 hours whilst also tracking 32 satellites but it also can log over 100,000 way points and has a POI button for immediately recording a point of interest with a push of a button. With built-in Google Earth integration this makes for a powerful combination.
So we took the Qstarz BT-Q1000 Double 32 Bluetooth GPS Travel Recorder for a long test drive and are bringing you this first review.
The handsome packaging inspires confidence. It has all the salient details itemized on all sides of the box, including a flip-over cover with more features and a glimpse of the BT-Q1000. The Travel Recorder is very small, has a rubberised feel to it and a non-slip bottom. On the left side of the unit we find a sliding switch for the OFF and NAV / LOG positions. The RH side has a mini USB Port. On top we find the LED indicators surrounding the big red POI button.
We got the Australian version, meaning it comes with an adapter specifically for OUR country. That’s always a bonus and a sign that they take export to this continent seriously. The product is also marketed with EU, US and UK adapters.
The unit comes complete with a vehicle charger and cable with a mini USB tip to allow charging from a standard USB Port. A small belt pouch compliments the package and there is also the obligatory manual and Software Utilities. In other words, you got everything you need and want.
Full marks here.
Charging the battery takes about 3 hours and when the green battery light starts flashing we are ready to go.
It’s worthwhile to highlight the features of this Travel Recorder in more detail.
The switch on the side of the BT-Q1000 reveals it can be set to NAV mode for both navigation and logging or to just a logging mode. Of course it’s fun to transfer all the accumulated way points to Google Earth to see where you have been but there are some interesting applications with this capability as well. Ever had a speeding ticket and you absolutely know that you were travelling within the speed limit? How do you prove your innocence? This Travel Recorder plots your itinerary in the greatest detail, complete with speeds, times, heights. You have various options in specifying at what intervals you want your track recorded. Sometimes, if you’re in an aircraft or vehicle you might want to log every second or so but if you are riding a bicycle or jogging it would be sufficient to plot a way point every 10 seconds. In the software utility you have the options to specify exactly how often you want this to happen and what the parameters should be.
In our experience logging every 10 secs when driving a car is quite sufficient to leave a nice breadcrumb trail…
Whilst the ability to log 100,000 waypoints sounds like enough for any kind of trip sooner or later you will run out of memory on the Travel Recorder. And there are two ways to deal with this: you can simply stop logging or allow the data to be overwritten by newer data.
I would like to get some notification when the memory is, say, 90% full. It will also be nice if you could change the logging method on the fly so that you can record at less frequent intervals if need be. Ideally this would be done on the unit itself or on your PDA or Smartphone. At the moment, you can only know when you memory is full when you see the orange GPS light turn from orange to solid blue.
The special red POI button on top of the unit allows you to instantly record your position. It is also known as a MOB button – Man Over Board… Lost your buddy doing 50 knots in a speedboat (hate that when that happens!)? Quick, press that button! You’ll be able to find him before the sharks do…
You can also use this feature when you are taking photographs and want to recall exactly where the pictures were taken. There is in fact a reference to the JetPhoto Studio application where you can do this quite handily. We talked earlier about the specifications of the Travel Recorder when we announced this GPS receiver a few weeks ago. The BT-Q1000 sports an MTK chipset from Adopt with high sensitivity that allows 32 channel tracking. For a good fix you only need 4 satellites of course, but the more satellites the receiver can track the more sensitive and faster it is. This unit also has WAAS and EGNOS support for greater accuracy.
And endurance like 32 hours is state of the art. In reality, this will vary but with Auto on-off functions you will have some smart power control. If the bluetooth connection drops out the device goes into sleep mode. It’s not always necessary to have a bluetooth connection because the device also comes with the mini USB cable for direct link up to your PC or notebook. And in LOG mode you will not need any connection whatsoever: you’re just logging all the way points.
For the first test drive we put the Travel Recorder in LOG mode. We ended up with 1826 records to cover a 30km trip. This log activity used up only 3% of the BT-Q1000 memory. Using the Travel Recorder’s utility we could quickly download the data and press the Draw Map button. This immediately chucks all the waypoints into Google Earth. Very impressive to see this seamless integration.
Here’s the result on Google Earth:
A second trip generated 12000 records, taking about a quarter of the memory. Google Earth apparently only allows you to draw from 5000 waypoints at the time so you have to do this several times for a big trip or make the recording interval larger.
At present time data can only be downloaded to the PC by cable. In future it is likely that the download can also be done via bluetooth so that you can at least save the data in a CSV file before the memory gets full. When we made a third trip we set the logging interval to 10 secs and generated 6912 records over about 13 hours. This filled the memory for only 13%. All the time when your car is stationary the unit keeps on logging (when you left it on of course) and all those records generate a nice “sunburst” of waypoints on Google Earth.
The POI or PTL (Push to Log button) can only be activated, by the way, when the device is in LOG or NAV mode. Makes sense because it needs to have a fix already before it can take a “snapshot” of your Point of Interest. Using the Travel Recorder in NAV mode is very simple indeed: the unit shows up as an ïBT-GPS” device and you can use the standard 0000 pass key for pairing. I tested it out with OziExplorer and PocketFMS which works beautifully.
This Travel Recorder from Qstarz looks similar to the iBlue 747 but has a rubberised finish, different branding of course and, according to Qstarz, has better hardware and software. iBlue is their sub-contract manufacturer.
The old adage says: your mileage may vary and that is of course also true when it comes to battery life of the Travel Recorder. 30 hours plus is entirely achievable depending on your settings. My advice is to play around with the settings so that at least you will get a full day’s worth of navigation or logging. It’s a far cry from my earliest bluetooth GPS receiver which had just 4 hours endurance! And this one has so many recharging options that it is unlikely to run out of juice anytime soon. You might also want to have a look at one of our next reviews which will feature the Brando Solar Charger which gives you yet another option to keep going.
The only slightly disconcerting thing about the Low Power warning (when the red Power LED starts flashing) is that it happens hours and hours before the electrons stop trickling… Too much warning can be counter effective.
The Qstarz BT-Q1000 Double 32 Bluetooth GPS Travel Recorder is an extremely capable device. For a retail price of just US$119 this unit is also very affordable. We cannot fault the packaging and completeness of this GPS receiver. Sure, I will always complain about the flashing LED lights during normal operations as is the case with most GPS receivers. It just isn’t necessary to draw attention to itself when everything is working OK. Normally this will also be a detraction for night time operations but luckily in case of the BT-Q1000 the LEDs are not too bright at night. Apart from this small complaint the Qstarz BT-Q1000 has just been promoted to my prime GPS receiver. Highly recommended! In fact, there’s so much to like about the Qstarz BT-Q1000 Double 32 Bluetooth GPS Travel Recorder that we’ve given it the highest rating: our Editor’s Choice Award!
Here are the links to the other Qstarz reviews we’ve done:
Qstarz TINY GPS Receiver with MP3 Function (Reviews/Navigation) Looks good and SOUNDS good… Our quest for ever smaller GPS receivers has taken us today to the Qstarz BT-Q920 with a really tiny footprint. However, the Qstarz BT-Q920 GPS Receiver also co … 06 Jan, 2007
Qstarz BT-Q810 GPS Receiver (Reviews/Accessories) Great Battery Life and Super Sensitive When Sean Lin of QSTARZ INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD. wrote to us to introduce his company and their line of MTK-based 32 Channel GPS receivers, we were kin … 10 Oct, 2006