i-gotU GT-120 GPS Data Logger Review

i-gotU GT-120 GPS Data Logger Review

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i-gotU GT-120 GPS Data Logger Review The i-gotU GT-120 is the smallest, simplest GPS data logger I’ve ever used.  About the size of a 9V battery, the unit has only one button and two lights.  That’s it.  In this review I intend to relate my experience using this device over the course of three months of travel which included a 2500 mile road trip across the USA, 1200km of road tripping in North New South Wales, Australia and finally a week spent driving around the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada.  I feel I’ve given this unit a thorough testing and here’s what I’ve found.

First, the stats.

  • i-gotU GT-120 GPS Data Logger
  • SiRF StarIII 65nm chipset
  • 16MB of flash memory, recording up to 65,000 points
  • 2 LEDs and 1 button
  • Nifty rubberized cover, has loop for strap on the back
  • Hole for lanyard attachement
  • USB 1.1.  Comes with cable as it uses a proprietary plug
  • Comes with @trip PC software (update: please note that it’s not available for Mac)
  • Retail price – $70US

Operation In The Field

This unit is very easy to use in the field.  With one button, it’s hard to go wrong and it’s very easy for travel companions to use if you want to lend it out.  Holding down the button will cause the blue LED to the right of the button to illuminate.  Now you’re cooking with gas!  Once a signal has been acquired both the blue and red light will flash twice in quick sequence to indicate a satellite lock has been established and a waypoint has been recorded.  All the while, the blue light will continue to flash letting you know the unit is on the job.  Shutting off the unit is just as easy as turning it on.  Holding down the button will cause the red LED to illuminate for a couple of seconds, letting you know the unit is powering off.

In reality, I found signal acquisition to be well within my acceptable limit of two minutes when moved large distances (Philadelphia, USA to Brisbane, Australia).  When kept in a relatively stagnant location between power cycles, the unit acquired and started logging within 30 seconds or less.  For half of my trips the unit was placed on the dash of a vehicle (minivan, campervan and RV with overhang) where the rubberized cover became very useful to prevent sliding.  For the other half of the trip the unit was either in a front shirt pocket or the pockets of my shorts.

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Can you find the small blue and white device in this geek-tangle?

From such a small unit I was not expecting much in the way of extreme accuracy while the unit was in my pocket.  Frankly, I would have been happy with a location within 100′ of my actual spot on the Earth.  What I found was there was little difference between when the unit was out in the open or close up to my body.  Nor was the unit greatly affected by the large overhang in the RV.  In fact, short of underground garages and the lower holds of BC Ferries, accuracy was within 40′ for more than 90% of the trips.  I was impressed with the GT-120’s ability to both acquire and accurately record location in a wide variety of terrain and geographic locations.

My main complaint about the unit’s operation has to do with battery charging.  This unit requires a USB connection to charge.  While charging times are fairly short (full charge from dead in about an 40 minutes), I often travel to remote locations and leave my laptop at home.  The unit can be plugged into a wall unit USB charging device, however, I prefer a unit that can run on standard batteries of some type.  That being said, once this limitation is understood adaptations can easily be made.  For the trips mentioned, I was not far from a laptop for more than a day.  Battery life on the unit was close to nine hours of continuous use.   Again, I was pleased with the performance on this statistic as I’d regularly leave the unit on for a full day of travel and photography.  Only twice was I left without power, but that was due to my own inability to remember to plug in the unit.

One last note on field use.  This unit was regularly nestled between a SPOT Personal Satellite Messenger and a Delorme GPS.  Often times when there are multiple GPS devices in close proximately, the signal reception can degrade.  I did not notice any such degradation beyond the acceptable parameters mentioned above.  In other words, even when surround by unit with more powerful antennas, the SiRF chipset in GT-120 was able to receive enough signal to keep locations within a 40′ radius.

Operation At Home

Screenshot

Click for larger view

The GT-120 comes with its own software, called @trip PC (sorry, PC only).  The software is basic and to the point.  When a unit is plugged in the software will automatically start downloading track data.  File structure is kept simple; each data set is marked with the time downloaded.  I would have liked to see some customization in this feature but after data is downloaded, those file names can be changed.  It’s just an extra step.

At this point my process diverges from the way @trip PC handles pictures.  For me, I normally take a .gpx file and use other software to geotag images.  But @trip PC can handle this all for me and even make a spiffy Google Map when it’s done.  This is a great feature if you intend to share your photos with friends and family (it even comes complete with webserver space to handle your images and map).  The map is familiar to those who use Google Maps and retains Googles easy of navigation while adding in photos and track data for easy clicking.

Sharing via the @trip server is straight forward, but not highly utilized at this time.  Images can also be uploaded to Picasa Web Albums or Flickr, giving the software some true utility.  The software can also export saved log files to the more popular GPX file format for use in any number of GPS programs and units.

Conclusion

I enjoyed both the size and simplicity of the i-gotU GT-120 I tested.  The unit functioned as advertised and took a lot of beating during the three months it saw thousands of miles and kilometers.  While I’d enjoy having a charging source available other than yet another USB cord, it suited my needs while on ‘connected’ road trips.

For more information on where to purchase a GT-120, check out their website.

Disclaimer: The author was provided with a complimentary item for the purpose of this review.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • Wayne April 16, 2010 08:07 pm

    Regarding the PC only software, there is software in development that enables you to download the logger to a linux or mac machine. It's only at ver 0.3 but is still quite usable: https://launchpad.net/igotu2gpx

  • James March 16, 2010 11:14 am

    In response to the "only charge by USB problem".

    Sanyo's Eneloop range of products includes a compact (2AA) charging kit, 2AA rechargeable batteries go in a small box, which is then connected to any USB port to charge them, after charging a switch can be flipped which will release the charge from the batteries via the built-in USB port, so any USB device can be charged. That in itself is pretty cool, but still the batteries need to be charged, however, the device will accept ANY AA batteries and release the charge via the USB port. voila, mobile usb charging, I do believe they even have a solar powered one too now.

    If you are a cyclist you could also charge the batteries/ any USB device via your hub generator.

  • Data Loggers Equipment October 20, 2009 04:53 pm

    GPS data logger is very important in travel, taking and collecting pictures. The feature that makes that equipment very cool is it enables Geo Logging, putting pictures at your save location point.

  • Vilmis | Travel Pictures October 13, 2009 12:41 pm

    @Adarsha: gps loggers usually have lower power consumption (40h+). Of course It depends where you are going, but if I am camping in the mountains for a week or more I need more power then 6 hours.
    What's why at the moment I am using
    Sony GPS-CS1 GPS Device. It can be used with any camera not only with Sony and with one AA battery can work 10-14h. So all I need just to take pack of batteries with me and don't worry will I be able to recharge any usb device.

    If somebody is looking for gps logger should check this page with different kinds of devices:
    http://www.buygpsnow.com/Department/GPS-Data-Logging.aspx

  • Adarsha October 12, 2009 01:55 am

    I don't understand why we need to buy another GPS logger when we already have a GPS navigator.
    If your GPS does not allow Geo Logging, then thats the problem, and you should look for alternatives.

    I have Garmin Nuvi 200, and by default it does not have logging, I found a tweaked firmware, which will allow you to enable hidden logging feature. So Now when I step out of the car with my camera, I will carry the GPS in my camera bag. I have an old 128MB SD Card in it, it gives 6 hours battery backup.

    Back home I use GeoSetter (nice little app with geo tagging and maps) to sync my pictures. Extra investment 0$

  • Galarina October 9, 2009 06:53 am

    @Florian

    You should read but app descriptions more carefully. I don't think Trails will do the geotagging over WiFi of photos residing on a Mac or the geotagging to Flickr.

    Trails is a very good app, but is meant to track your location and do different kind of stuff with it afterwards.
    GeoLogTag also tracks your location but is specifically made to geotag photos afterwards.

  • Florian October 9, 2009 06:43 am

    @Galarina

    Seems like a nice app, BUT "trails" does the exact same thing but is much cheaper (actually it does more because it has a buch of features). Sorry but maybe rethink your price strategy.

  • Galarina October 9, 2009 12:26 am

    @adam ko

    If you're looking for a Mac compatible GPS data logger, you could already have it in your pocket: an iPhone.

    Check out my iPhone app GeoLogTag specifically designed to geotag photos taken with any digital camera and compatible with Mac, PC and Flickr.

  • Peter Carey October 6, 2009 01:43 pm

    Todd, you set your camera to the time on your computer. The @trip PC software has a utility that will sync your computer clock to one of the many time servers on the internet. The GPS then gets it's time from the multiple satellite signals.

    Norbert, thanks for the link to Jeffery's plug-in! Very handy.

    And for those looking at the Amod, DPS also has a review of that device https://digital-photography-school.com/amod-gps-photo-data-logger-review

  • John October 6, 2009 01:26 pm

    So how do you sync the clock in your camera with the clock in these type of GPSs that do not have a screen that you can read the time from?

    I think they get their time from the GPS system.

  • Sebastian October 6, 2009 06:32 am

    I use the GPS-Logger "photoGPS" vom Jobo and the thing that I like really is: the tagger is attached on the camera and only record the data then I take a picture. This safes enery and work very good. Only at home, the collected data is converted into a position and this also saves energy.

  • John Bokma October 6, 2009 03:54 am

    +1 for the AMOD AGL3080, even though it's about 3x a 9V battery it does use standard AAA batteries (3x) besides the other advantages mentioned already. To both Windows and Linux it appears as a USB pen drive, which is very convenient.

  • Todd K. October 6, 2009 01:48 am

    So how do you sync the clock in your camera with the clock in these type of GPSs that do not have a screen that you can read the time from? I geotag my photos, but I sync the clock on the camera with the GPS clock (once it has acquired a signal) so that I get a much more precise location for the pictures.

  • Zack Jones October 5, 2009 11:34 pm

    +1 for the AMOD AGL3080 data logger. that's what I use now and it works great. You can buy one for $65 and it supports MACs. Other I used before I lost it was the GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr Lite DPL700. It's $99 and it also supports MACs.

  • Norbert Csík October 5, 2009 10:13 pm

    Great device, I'm using it with Lightroom. See Jeffrey Friedl's plugin: http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/gps

  • Helen ST October 5, 2009 06:08 pm

    I bought the GT-200 recently and I'd recommend this rather than the GT-120. It has improved battery life (claimed up to 160 hours if you set it to log every half hour) and can also be put into bluetooth mode so doubles up as a really good external GPS for a bluetooth phone. It weighs a little more (37g) but is still ridiculously small and light.

    Re. the reviewer's complaint about power - you can find devices that convert AA battery power into USB power - I have a home made one! I find USB power to be very flexible - e.g. many solar chargers output it, you can have a sneaky charge in an internet cafe, and when you plug it into your PC to read off the data you're charging without even thinking about it.

    My only complaints are the non-standard USB cable & Windows-only software (although there is a Linux/Mac program that can download GPX tracks (https://launchpad.net/igotu2gpx).

  • xunum October 5, 2009 10:10 am

    i had this piece of hardware for exactly two days and didn't get it to work all the time. (to me) it's just not worth the money, cause real useful gadgets are available at the same price. to all mac users: there are some loggers out there, that log to a gpx-file on flash memory, which can be used like a usb-stick or thumbdrive. and with maperture or other tools like this (Applescripst may useful too) can read this sort of file.

  • canelson October 5, 2009 09:39 am

    You should try the AMOD AGL3080, 128MB, 2 buttons, no drivers needed for Mac and PC, time between logs can be configured for 1, 5 and 10 seconds. And I think it costs the same (and as I told you, it has 128MB)

  • John October 5, 2009 04:46 am

    "Comes with @trip PC software"

    I think he covered it.

  • Nelson October 5, 2009 04:18 am

    Ditto what william said. PC only = FAIL.

  • William A. Wilson October 5, 2009 03:32 am

    Why don't you tell us at the beginning of your review that Macs need not apply. That would save me some time.

  • John October 5, 2009 02:50 am

    Hey guys & gals, I'm going on a long trip soon and "need" a geo tagger. Other than the one above, can anyone recommend one that works consistently and is affordable?

    Thanks,
    John

  • Kenneth R October 5, 2009 02:47 am

    I had one for 6 month now, and am very pleased. Only thing I vished for, was a faster cold start. I live in Bulgari, and it can be up to 10 min to recieve a good signal to start loggin. Else everything is fine.

  • Adam Ko October 5, 2009 02:18 am

    I just checked their website, it is not compatible with Mac.

    I’ve always been looking for a nice & inexpensive geo-tagger to better organise them in iPhoto, it is a pity it doesn’t support OS X.

  • John Sturr October 5, 2009 02:18 am

    Thanks so much for the write up as I'm shopping right now for one -- seems the GPS Loggers come in many different flavors and none have all the features desired as you describe.