- Review Price: £96.89
The personal sat-nav may have been the big consumer success story of GPS technology, but it’s far from the only use of this empowering geo-location system. Even if you don’t need to be told how to get where you’re going, a GPS device can help record information about how the journey went, which has plenty of handy applications. One of these is for sporting activities and this is what the Qstarz BT-Q2000 GPS Sports Recorder Explore 2000 is aimed at.
The Explore 2000 is a simple device. It has just three controls – for powering the device on and off, for toggling the LED backlight behind the monochrome LCD, and a Tool button that performs a small selection of functions. The device itself really only does two main things. One is receiving the GPS signal and reading it out as latitude, longitude and elevation, as well as using this information to tell your current speed, average speed, and distance travelled. The other function is recording this information in its built-in memory when Log Mode has been enabled. Although there is just 4MB of memory built-in, that’s enough for 260,000 waypoints, which should give you hours of recording. Qstarz also claims the battery will last as long as 20 hours on a single charge.
Logging mode is where the Explore 2000 starts becoming useful. To start logging, you need to press the power button for a short period each time you turn the device on. Then the odometer and averaging will be called into play. You can use this on its own, for example when out running or biking, to tell you how far you’ve travelled. To this end, the Qstarz comes with a strap and pouch for wearing on an arm, like an MP3 player. It also includes a mounting kit for a bike. However, this relies on two plastic ties for handlebar attachment, which probably won’t last long if you keep moving the mount from bike to bike, so Qstarz has put two pairs in the box.
Bluetooth is also integrated. After the usual shenanigans associated with Bluetooth, we were able to pair the Qstarz with a Pocket PC PDA, and then use it as an external GPS with the Navman SmartST sat-nav software installed on the PDA. We didn’t need to install extra drivers to get this working, but there are drivers included for use with various handheld devices, including Symbian and Windows CE.
However, it’s the supplied PC software which really brings the Qstarz into its own. This comes on a 5cm CD, so won’t be very useful for slot-loading optical drives. The main app is Qstarz PC Suite, which includes QSports V1, Travel Recorder V4, and a GPS driver so you can use the device with PC navigation software.
Within the main suite, QSports V1 is the primary facility for keeping track of your sporting achievements. You import logged data from the Explorer 2000, telling the software which kind of activity the log represents. Each imported data set becomes a track, which can then be displayed and analysed in a number of ways. The Summary tells you how long you took, the distance travelled, plus average and maximum speed. It also calculates the amount of calories burned based on the type of activity you specified when you imported the data. Since elevation is also tracked, you can see average speeds for ascent and descent, making it possible to keep track of how well you run or cycle up hills. The software is smart enough to exclude times when you were clearly standing still from these calculations, which is handy if you’re exercising in urban areas where you have to stop for traffic lights or when crossing the road.
More visual treats are in store elsewhere in the QSports interface. The Google Map for the route you have taken is brought into the app, and your route drawn onto it. A graph shows your speed at points during your journey, and switching to the Play tab links this graph directly to the map. So you can see exactly how fast you were going at different points of the journey. Although the QSports app is not aimed at powered activities other than motor cycling, you could use the playback facility to analyse your performance around a racetrack, albeit at a fairly general level.
Once you have imported a number of tracks over an extended time period, the Statistics page can be called into play to show your activities on a daily basis. The software supports multiple users, so different people can use the Explorer 2000 to track their exercises, then import them as separate entries within the app. QSports can also export the GPS data in various formats, including HTML, Google Earth KML and KMZ, as well as tracks in GPX, NMEA and basic CSV formats. When exporting to KML or KMZ, you have the option to open the results in Google Earth directly, if you have it installed.
The other main app included, Travel Recorder V4, can also import tracks from the Qstarz and export these to the same formats. Its main addition is the ability to import photos as well and geotag these, then export the whole thing to Google Maps/Earth, Flickr or Locr. When you import photos, the time and date stamps on them are matched with the times and dates of your route. Any photos which correlate are added to the route display, and you can then write the geotagging information directly into the photo. If the camera times were set wrongly, you can offset these in Travel Recorder too. So although sports analysis is the Qstarz’s core function, it has a handy little sideline helping you document your journeys with your photography.
Considering that you can get a basic sat-nav for a similar amount of money, the Qstarz BT-Q2000 Explore 2000 looks a little expensive. However, entry-level Garmin devices like the Forerunner sports watches and Foretrex wrist GPS cost a similar amount, and can’t record anywhere near as much tracking information. Garmin’s more fully-featured Forerunner 405 costs about twice as much, too. So if your sports activities are serious enough to warrant detailed analysis, the Qstarz could be a real training boost.
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