Q-Starz Travel Recorder XT

I’ve always been a little obsessive when it comes to geo-tagging my photos. In fact, every single one of my photos on Flickr is geo-tagged, even the ones I had to scan from old prints. While I pride myself on accuracy, getting the locations right was adding days of work to my processing routine. I tried a few different apps for my mobile phone, but between battery limitations and poor performance when matching photos to locations it was time for a new solution.

After an exhaustive search, all of the travel loggers I found were either way overpriced or had such poor build quality I could see manufacturing defects from the thumbnail pictures. Admitting defeat, I pointed the mouse at an anti-bling model in the middle of the price range and clicked “buy”.

I was pleasantly surprised when the tiny black Q-Starz data logger showed up. Not only is it well built, its internal battery happens to be that of a common Nokia phone model (a feature I had overlooked) so finding a replacement is easy (though AAA batteries would be preferable). While not “ruggedized”, its simplistic design and minimal controls leave few areas vulnerable to moisture or dust ingress. For the last six months it has been a trusty travel companion while winter-hiking frozen trails and barreling down dusty back roads.

In the field, the Q1000XT is small and rounded enough to go unnoticed in a pocket—perfectly suited to hiking the wilderness or the urban jungle. The waypoint button is plenty easy to press for marking any points of interest along the way, but subtle enough to prevent accidental marks on the track. Back in the vehicle you can plug it into the included charger to top off the battery without affecting the track log. Even better, if you have a computer set up for navigation you can plug it into a USB port to both recharge the device and share the GPSr’s location data to the computer. So far, I have successfully tested the unit slaved to a computer to run Overland Navigator, National Geographic’s TOPO!, and GPS Gate (which could then share the device to any number of other programs).

The only complaint I have is with the included QTravel software. It works, but it is clunky and somewhat difficult to use. It is also only available for Windows. Fortunately, this isn’t a big deal as all I use it for is reading and clearing the track logs, which it can export in several different formats (including GPX). I then use GeoSetter with the exported GPX file to geo-tag and rename all of my pictures before processing and uploading.

The Q-Starz Travel Recorder XT can be found for ~$110 on Amazon »