Gps trackers - any advice?

Like half of the web development community, I recently became really interested in location-enabled stuff ;)

I really want to get a GPS tracker (for christmas!, hint hint!), there seem to be a couple out there, so I'm wondering if there's any people who have such a device and what their experiences are. Ideal features:

  • Small! I don't need to display, I just want to drop it in my backpack and forget about it.
  • Has USB, all I need is something that spits out cvs data (or similar format) on the drive which I can extract.
  • Somewhat good battery life (>24h).
  • Most importantly, charges through USB. Batteries is a no-go (for any device for that matter, I'm looking at you wii controller.)

So we have some options:

Professional mini tracker key

Pro:

  • Title of the product is completely written in uppercase, has to mean something right?
  • Logs data every second.

Con:

  • Uses AA batteries.
  • No specs on battery life.
  • No specs on how to extract the data, but has USB.
  • On the expensive side ($278.99).

TRACKING KEY LAS-1505

Pro:

  • "Ideal For Parents Who Want To See If Their Teenagers Are Speeding", seriously.. the page says that literally.

Con:

  • Runs on AA batteries.
  • Price ($206).

Amod AGL3080

Pro:

  • Looks like a more decent product.
  • Price: $69
  • Uses standard format for data (works as csv on usb drive), accessible with my scripting powers.
  • Works on a set interval or 'Push to log'.
  • Works for 15 hours (good enough).

Con:

  • AA batteries.

Zoombak ZMBK200

Pro:

  • Totally rad name!
  • A/C wall charger! (the only one so far).

Con:

  • Battery life for 150 location requests.
  • Subscription fee! (this is where I'm not even going to look for more cons).

Trackstick 2

Pro:

  • Reasonable price: $114.
  • Exports to CSV.

Con:

  • 1MB flash drive.
  • AA batteries.

Conclusion so far:

The Amod AGL3080 seems by a stretch the most impressive device, not only does it seem to have a good battery life, and plenty of storage. Just judging from the page on amazon, it quite frankly seems the most professional, despite it having the lowest price on the list.

Dear lazyweb, am I making a mistake? Are there better devices out there?

Web mentions

Comments

  • Volcane

    Volcane

    It's unlikely to just work dropped in your backpack, it needs line of sight unobstructed to the satellites, even powerful GPS units have troubles with even the slightest of obstruction, so look for one that can be strapped easily to a bar, or to a neck strap etc.
  • Evert

    Evert

    Did not know that! Thats good to know..
  • Kevin Hoyt

    Kevin Hoyt

    I've been using the Trackstick, and it works okay. My two big complaints are that it doesn't have a good way to strap it to anything, and that it requires you use their software to process the data, which equates to custom drivers and no Mac support. You can see some of the tracks I've collected with the Trackstick at http://apps.kevinhoyt.org/kevin/woik/. I've been eyeing an upgrade to the AMOD unit for Christmas myself. Mac compatible, shows up as a drive, gives you access to the data without additional drivers, and includes a strap and carabiner. It sounds like their initial release was flawed, but that they've fixed those problems since. I'm pretty sure this'll be where I land. If you make the plunge, let me know what you think! Another contender, though not USB, that I was considering for a while was the iBlue 747. It's connects via Bluetooth, which I thought was novel. It also has a more modern GPS chipset (MTK v SiRF). It doesn't however have any fastening mechanism, and as commented earlier, line of sight is important for highest accuracy. Looking forward to notes on your pick and why! Kevin
  • Paul Bonser

    Paul Bonser

    I'd look at one of these two from Chinavasion: http://www.chinavasion.com/product_info.php/pName/weatherproof-gps-datalogger-with-lcd-numeric-display/ http://www.chinavasion.com/product_info.php/pName/bluetooth-gps-logger-fob/ They both have USB charging, and while it looks like the battery life is only 12 hours for each, it also looks like they take fairly standard-looking mobile phone batteries, and you might be able to upgrade to a higher capacity battery.
  • Kelvin Luck

    Kelvin Luck

    I got a GPS logger last christmas and after a bit of research ended up with the Qstarz BTQ1000 ( http://www.qstarz.com/Products/GPS%20Products/BT-Q1000P-F.htm - although I think that is the newer version). I've been pretty happy with it so far... Charges by USB (and came with a ac adaptor), has enough space for lots of logging (depending on what setting you have it on) and the battery life if pretty good. The bluetooth is a nice addition - it hooked up to my cellphone pretty easily and I found an app to give driving directions... Main complaint is that once (and only once in the last year) it lost a couple of days worth of data... Comes with (Windows) drivers and custom software to get the data off... The data comes off as csv, kml (google earth) or nmea - I actually ended up writing a csv to gpx convertor in as3 as well to get all of the data properly out of the csv file (which is it's native format). The "no driver" approach of the amod sounds good though - would be nice to be able to grab the data off from any computer anywhere (e.g. on the road without a laptop). You can see some of the grabbed data dropped into google earth here: http://flickr.com/photos/vitch/3097484782/ http://flickr.com/photos/vitch/2849945718/ Let us know what you end up going for and if you are happy with it, Kelvin :)
  • Evert

    Evert

    Looks pretty good Paul, I'm wondering how you'd pull out the data without google maps.. I'd really need to be able to script it :) I'll do some research, because this one looks def. pretty interesting.
  • Evert

    Evert

    Kelvin, Thanks! That also looks like a good choice with a good price :) I especially like the fact that it doesn't use AA batteries (really have a grudge against those..) I'll also definitely report back when I got mine, right now I'm a bit undecided :) Evert
  • Andy

    Andy

    You should check out some of the GPS trackers available over at Spyville (http://spyville.com/gps-unit.html)
  • risa

    risa

    cool<li><a href="http://www.epathchina.com/spy-devices-gps-tracker-c-192_326.html">GPS Tracker</a></li>