The Qstarz BT-Q1000 (available from Amazon.com) is very well designed. In addition to being a sensitive GPS logger, it also has a Bluetooth mode. Both the packaging and the industrial design show a great deal of attention to detail. The only weak point is the software, which lacks the ability to download or extract GPS tracks from a particular date. Since the BT-Q1000 can hold tens of thousands of data points, this can mean a substantial amount of post-processing if you want to isolate particular track segments.
As long as you don't need Mac compatibility, and If you don't mind using separate software for photo geocoding, I recommend this unit as the best logger I have tested so far.
UPDATE 2007-12-15: If you're looking for a complete solution including the photo geocoding software, check out my review of the GiSTEQ DPL700 PhotoTrackr Lite. ENDUPDATE
UPDATE 2007-12-20: I have found that the Q1000 is compatible with the Mac, using a USB driver and BT747 software. ENDUPDATE
There are a lot of things I like about the design of the device, particular as it compares to my previous favourite, the Globalsat DG-100. The Q1000 is compact, it has a slider switch to go into log mode (top position) or nav mode (Bluetooth, middle position). It has a red button to press to set a Point of Interest (the software will render each POI as a camera icon if you export to Google Earth). I do wish the button had a click action but instead it has little travel and is more of a squishy slight movement, which makes it difficult to tell if you've pressed it. If you're looking at the device, it will briefly turn the GPS signal indicator from orange to blue to indicate it is recording a POI, which is a nice touch. This contrasts with the DG-100 where the ability to set a POI is not clearly documented, supported or indicated, and the button to set a POI is also the power button (which is why I have been reluctant to test this feature on the Globalsat).
The Q1000 also has a rubberized base, which makes it much easier to place on smooth surfaces without worring about it sliding off.
The packaging is quite impressive, but they have put such effort into the design that you may accidentally overlook the battery, which is cleverly tucked into the side of the box. The package even includes a small carrying pouch.
Since Amazon.com doesn't ship electronics to Canada, I got my Q1000 from anitec.ca for C$110.
The original full name of the device is the "Double 32® Bluetooth GPS Travel Recorder". The double 32 part is from the 32-channel MTK chipset, and the 32-hour battery lifetime. (To access this original production information, see the August 12, 2007 page snapshot from Internet Archive.) However, GPS channels seem to be like Intel chip speeds, with more always being better, so it is now marketed as a "Super 51-CH Performance Bluetooth GPS Travel Recorder". GPS Passion speculates
the difference may be newer firmware, and some marketing spin (51 channels = "original 32 channels plus 19 SBAS") , however there is no new firmware available for download. UPDATE 2007-11-23: According to an email from Qstarz "Refer to the change from 32CH to 51CH, it's our GPS chipset provider MediaTek who has updated the specification" ENDUPDATE
As of this writing the latest version of the Windows software (Travel Recorder PC Utility) is 2.4, available for download from the Qstarz site. I recommend you upgrade as problems have been reported with earlier software versions. It does not provide the ability to split the log, the Qstarz Q1000 FAQ says
The PC Utility software seems to have no log split function. So how can I display only the required track and delete any portion of a track that is not required?
You can save the log file as a *.csv first, and open it with Microsoft Excel. Split the log file as your desire via Excel and when you are all done, use PC Utility software to read the *.csv file and draw them on Google Earth.
The sensitivity is quite good, I was able to get good tracks on several airplane flights (with it placed next to a window, with Bluetooth OFF ) and ok tracks in the skyscraper valleys of Philadelphia (where the Mio H610 was totally unable to get a location fix).
The software presents you with a port selection page to start with, which could be quite intimidating, however you can basically just attach the GPS and set it on log, click on Connect and it will work fine.
Download is quite slow even with a USB 2.0 set up and a high baud rate, 1 minute 15 seconds for 8344 records. As mentioned, you can only download the entire contents of the logger, you can't pick and chose (unlike the DG-100).
Once downloaded, the data are displayed in a table in the UI but (and this is a pet peeve of mine) the window cannot be resized - the size of the UI is fixed. You can save (the entire download only) as comma-separated (CSV), Google Earth KML, or NMEA.
As well, you can "Draw Map", which lets you pick a starting and ending record number, and will then map those data points in Google Earth. The display is still a bit confusing - it will make a folder "My Trips" with a line representing the ENTIRE data set ("My Path") and then also put in placemarks for your selected datapoints ("My Places").
It is quite simple to configure, using the software (there are no logging mode switches on the device itself, unlike the DG-100). The software supports real-time position and log download only - if you want to geocode photos using the data you will need additional software such as RoboGEO.
Overall a well-engineered device. Here's a plot showing me wandering around downtown Philadelphia (produced by Saving and then processing using GPS Visualizer).
And here are my Toronto-Philadelphia takeoff and landing altitude views (I will have more about this in a subsequent post - remember TURN BLUETOOTH OFF - use only Log mode when on a plane)