Back in September I took a look at the Sony GPS Location Recorder, a nifty little gadget that clips onto your camera strap and records your position as you take pictures. Not surprisingly Sony isn't the only company to make such a thing, and today I've got a very similar device from Taiwan-based ATP Electronics. Like the Sony gadget, it uses signals from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, the same ones that provide the information for your in-car satellite navigation system. The principal is fairly simple; while activated, it records a continuous log of time and position to its 123MB of internal memory, which can then be compared to the time information encoded with the JPEG EXIF data by your camera's internal clock each time you take a photo. Since the unit know where you were at the moment you took the photo, it can add the location co-ordinates to the picture file. The result can be displayed on a mapping program such as Google Earth, so that each photo is shown in its correct position.
Comparing the ATP Photofinder and the Sony Picture Tracker side-by-side, there are very obvious similarities between the two units, although they do look quite different in style. The Photofinder is the larger and heavier of the two, measuring approximately 83 x 44 x 26mm and weighing about 120g including batteries, a bit less than a small compact camera. Where the Sony is powered by a single AA battery, the Photofinder runs on a pair of smaller AAA cells, which give it a battery duration of around eight hours. The body shell is made of bright green plastic, with most of it covered in a black rubberised material which provides some protection against impacts as well as looking quite nice. Build quality is about average for a mass-produced plastic gadget; there are a few areas that creak if squeezed but it's not about to fall apart any time soon.
The most obvious differences distinguishing the ATP Photofinder from its Sony rival is the inclusion of a small LCD display on the side, and an SD card slot under a rubber hatch on the bottom. While the Sony Location Recorder has to be plugged into a PC to add its GPS location data to photos already uploaded from a camera, with the ATP unit the memory card from the camera can be plugged into the device's card slot, which then adds the GPS data to the picture files directly. Also under the same hatch is a mini-USB socket, and any USB memory card reader can be plugged into this, allowing the device to add GPS data to other types of memory card. This is potentially a lot more useful than the Sony system, since it doesn't rely on access to a PC with the Sony software installed.