Last Updated on August 27, 2016 by Audrey Scott
Since our around-the-world journey began in December 2006, we have geotagged virtually all our photos so we can display a map with each one in our travel photo gallery. We do this for our readers; we also do it for ourselves as a step-by-step diary and reminder of where we’ve been.
We recently updated some of our GPS geotagging hardware and software and keep getting asked: “What GPS device are you carrying these days? Any changes?”
As one person remarked, “You guys are the only ones I know geotagging day in and day out. It's not just a weekend warrior activity.” To put it another way, we're hard on our gear and test it in all conditions.
We’ll begin with a GPS data logger hardware review in this post and follow up with the GPS geotagging software we use next.
Note: For a tutorial on what geotagging is and how to geotag your photos, see our 3-part geotagging tutorial series:
GPS Datalogger Hardware Change
When our previous Sony GPS-CS1 data logger began hiccupping, we knew it was time to re-evaluate. We now also both have Macs (the Sony was not Mac compatible), so a Mac-compatible GPS data logging device was in order.
After some research, we purchased the AMOD AGL3080; later, we were sent the i-gotU GT-200e device for review.
The following is an evaluation and comparison of the two GPS dataloggers, their main features and key usage considerations.
|Criteria||Amod AGL3080||i-gotU GT-200e||Advantage|
|Size/weight||Light enough to hang on side of bag. Supplied plastic hook broke, so we use our own metal carabiner and attach it to a belt loop or our camera bag.||Exceptionally light – you forget it’s even there. Included velcro strap useful for wearing on your arm or attaching to a bag handle.||i-gotU GT-200e|
|Durability||First device failed after 8 months of use. Manufacturer replaced it for free and second one still works (8 months later).||Failed after four months of regular use. At first it would turn off unexpectedly. Later, it was unable to take readings and would turn off after five minutes. Eventually, it wouldn't turn on at all.||AMOD AGL3080|
|Can withstand elevation||Held it’s own over two months from Machu Picchu to the Bolivian altiplano.||Fine in high altitude situations in Peru and Bolivia.||Toss-up|
|Power supply||Takes 3 AAA batteries. Lasts about 2 days on full charge.||Charges via USB. Lasts about 2 days on full charge.||Toss-up, depending on how you plan to use it.|
|Mac vs. PC compatibility||Both. Hardware is driverless. Macs immediately recognize device.||Only PC compatible. Possible to access on Mac using Parallels or similar virtual machine.||AMOD AGL3080, particularly for Mac users.|
|Memory||128 MB, 1 million waypoints||64 MB, 262,000 waypoints||AMOD AGL3080|
|Access to data on device||Easy and driverless. Mac OSX and PC operating systems recognize the device as an external hard drive. Raw GPS .log files are easy to access and remove.||Painful. Not driverless, so the device is not visible – either on PC or Mac – as an external hard drive. During our test, we were forced to install bloated, proprietary software to access geodata. Software allows you to export raw data to .gpx.||AMOD AGL3080|
|GPS signal fix, access time||Within 1 minute||Within 1 minute||Toss-up|
|Accurate readings||6 modes, from 1-second to 10-second intervals||5-second interval readings.||Toss-up (we usually used 10-second mode on AMOD)|
|Water resistance||Manufacturer does not highlight it, but we have not had issues when using in damp conditions (i.e., Antarctica)||Water-resistant.||i-gotU GT-200e|
|Power and signal indicators||Bright, easy to see green light when working.||Can be difficult to read indication lights in bright light.||AMOD AGL3080|
|Provided software||AMOD GPS Photo Tracker. We did not use the provided software, since we use other GPS geotagging and photo-linking software.||igotU Travel Blog Software. Proprietary software install required to access data on the device. All-in-one solution seems intended for users that new geotagging. Sometimes the software wouldn't recognize the device and we'd have to try and restart the machine several times to get it to work. The support staff of this company tried to fix some of these bugs, but it never was a stable process.||AMOD AGL3080|
|Price (from Amazon.com)||$65.00||$98.00||AMOD AGL3080|
|Connector||Standard USB-2 cable.||USB-2 cable (with proprietary output connector from device)||AMOD AGL3080|
i-gotU GT-200e Summary
Size makes this device appealing. It's good for day hikers, cyclists and weekend warriors who are PC users, new to geotagging and looking for an all-in-one geotagging hardware/software/website display solution.
But we all know size isn't everything.
If you have any experience with GPS data logging and geotagging, you will probably find the software unnecessarily complicated. If Mobile Action decouples the hardware from the software by allowing driverless direct access to the data on the device, this would be a welcome improvement.
AMOD AGL3080 Summary
For us, the AMOD AGL3080 is notable for its Mac compatibility and easy access to raw data (.log format). Our Mac OSX laptops recognize it as an external hard drive.
Because it takes AAA batteries, it’s possible to use on an extended trek, provided you have replacement batteries or you have rechargeable batteries, a charger, and access to electricity.
Note: If you don't fully turn off the AMOD AGL3080 device completely before taking the batteries out, you run the risk of corrupting data on its built-in drive. If this happens to you, you’ll have to reformat the drive before using it again (hat tip to Peter Carey for helping us figure this out). This undocumented feature can be challenging at times.
The current winner: AMOD AGL3080.
Disclosure: The igotU GT-200e was provided to us for review by Mobile Action. We applaud their perseverance and for shipping the device to us in South America during our travels there.
The product links here include our Amazon affiliates code. The price stays the same to you, but we earn a small commission.
9 thoughts on “GPS Data Logger Review: Geotagging Photos, A Hardware Update”
It’s particularly depressing just how few (decent) consumer choices there are for this type of device (Bestsellers in Personal GPS Trackers & Locator Beacons).
I was very much turned off by the 3 AAA batteries the AGL3080, particularly when I read about the problems some folks were having using rechargeables:
“I have had this gps logger for 4 months now. It has the worst battery life of any device ever. It uses 3 AAA batteries and regardless of the logging setting (it has various levels of detail) it will gobble up the 3 batteries in 2 days. So, before buying this monster I thought, no problem, I will use rechargeable batteries, right? Wrong, It will not accept the rechargeable batteries. Many of the rechargeable batteries will not fully charge to the level of a new packaged non-rechargeable battery. Therefore, the AGL3080 complaints with a yellow blinking light (battery) and refuses to operate.”
…and then I read about how if your batteries fail (or you remove them) before you shut the device off your entire logged session is corrupted and lost. …and of course the joys of trying to recharge an odd number of batteries, when most chargers work in pairs. Not fun.
So, I was then looking at the Qstarz BT-Q1000XT, which looks like it’s getting great reviews on many aspects such as battery life (as they use a generic and easy to find Nokia cell phone battery — we’re talking days of logging without the need for a recharge), but have also been reading some pretty crummy stuff about the company software you’re forced to install the pull the data off the device. Bleh.
Anyone have any other suggestions??
@Craig: I agree with you that there are still weaknesses in the GPS datalogger market. We’re still looking for the perfect GPS datalogger that meets all of our needs (e.g., durable, Mac compatible, easy access to data, etc.) and exceeds the basics. Regarding the comment about rechargeable batteries on the Amod AGL3080, I’m not sure I agree. We’ve only used the device on rechargeable batteries (and have a recharger that can handle odd-numbered battery recharging) and it gives us around 2 days for each charge. Perhaps this review has something to do with the type of rechargeables bought?
I’d definitely shy away from devices with clunky, proprietary software to pull the data off the device. It just gets old.
Let us know if you find other suggestions.
I saw an ad for a point-and-shoot camera that would automatically geotag the photos when you took them. One day, maybe they’ll move that technology over to a DSLR, too.
Speaking of the Q1000XT… http://gizmodo.com/5611713/man-scrawls-worlds-biggest-message-with-a-gps-pen
@Craig: A 12,000+ mile message by using a Q1000XT is a pretty strong testimonial, I’d say. Pretty crazy.
@Kyle: The new Panasonic Lumix cameras have a GPS function so that you can automatically geotag your photos. I believe some of the high end professional DSLR cameras are starting to come out with this geotagging functionality as well. Can’t wait until it is also incorporated down the line into camera models we can afford.
I did research into this before I left on my 10 month round the world adventure, and came to the same conclusion that the AMOD 3080 is currently one of the best out there.
I am however impressed that you use it day-in day-out. In the beginning I would take it everywhere, but now I mostly use it to create tracks of the journeys I take rather than everyday when I’m taking photos around cities. The batteries of the AMOD are both a good point (AAA readily available) and bad (I have a small charger that only charges two batteries at a time).
I haven’t started syncing then to my photos – I thought I would sit down and do it once I’m finished travelling as it is a little more difficult with RAW photos.
@Ben: Apologies for not responding to your comment earlier. The AMOD 3080 is so light that it really doesn’t disturb us at all to hook it on the side of our camera bag and turn it on at the beginning of the day for regular usage. I guess I’d rather have extra geo data than less.
Regarding charging the batteries, it’s worth it to research and find a battery charger that can charge three batteries (or four) at a time. Might be a bit bulkier, but our headlamps also use three AAA batteries so we get good use out of this charger.
As for syncing the data with your photos, I find it easier to do it as we go (e.g., every night during big photo times) so as to not get overwhelmed by the data and get behind. It’s not a problem at all to sync RAW photos – PhotoLinker and HoudahGeo (Mac software) both work with RAW images without any problems. I’ll be writing a review of this geotagging software soon.
@Brian: I think what we (and Kyle?) are talking about is built-in native GPS geotagging capability for DSLRs. Your link is to add-on attachments.
The problem we’ve always had with hotshoe GPS device attachments for our Nikon D300 is that our travel circumstances can be rough, so the possibility of it breaking off is almost certain. I suspect a lot of other travel photographers are in a similar position and waiting for built-in geotagging capability.
The other value of an external GPS geotagging device is that the GPS files can be used for actually tracking one’s route, not just geotagging the photos.
Yes, there are already lots of DSLRs which supports gps, such as Sony A55, Pentax, Canon, Nikon, which you can read here http://www.photolife.com/blog/?p=3063
But data logger can work on more digital cameras and the battery can last much longer than those gps working on DSLRs.