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February 6, 2010

i-gotU GT-600 GPS Tracker Review

If the name of this particular product sounds familiar, that’s because I reviewed its precursor, the i-gotU GT-120 GPS tracker from Mobile Action Technology, last August. The full review is here, but here’s the quick recap: the GT-120 is a super-small, super-convenient and durable GPS tracker you use to log your outdoor adventures, then play around with them in cool ways like including geotagged pictures or uploading the files to Picasa or Flickr for sharing with friends and family. And at a retail price of $70, it’s one of the most affordable GPS gadgets you’ll ever come across.

Near the end of last year, the folks at MAT contacted me again to test an updated GPS tracker called the GT-600, and for the past couple of months, I’ve been using it for hiking and cycling as well as running. It has some definite improvements over the GT-120, but carries a higher price tag as well – so it’s a question of whether the upgrades are worth it.

For starters, the GT-600 is compatible with Windows 7, whereas the previous device only works with Windows XP and Vista. The new version is slightly larger than the old one, but is still small enough to fit comfortably into a pocket or key pouch, and light enough (only 37g) that you’ll barely notice it. The casing is water resistant, so there’s no worries if you get caught in the rain.

The GT-600 also features improved accuracy, efficiency, and versatility over its predecessor, thanks to hardware upgrades and an improved software package. Hardware improvements include a larger battery – which explains the slightly increased overall size – with a minimum operation time of 80 hours, so you can take it with you for several outings before needing a recharge. The battery recharges completely within a few hours via USB cable.

Another cool upgrade is motion detector technology in the GT-600 that automatically goes into sleep mode when movement stops for a prolonged period of time. This not only improves overall accuracy of your data (not factoring the time for rest breaks into your average speed, for example), but saves battery power as well. The GPS starts logging again automatically when motion is detected, so you don’t need to worry about pausing and restarting over the course of a long day. Memory capacity is a very generous 64MB, with storage space for more than 260,000 waypoints.

On the software side, the GT-600 comes with i-gotU Suite 3.0, featuring three different programs: @trip PC and Where I Am, similar to those used with the GT-120, and a new Sports Analyzer that provides in-depth activity data. All of these programs are fully interactive with Google Earth mapping, and download route information within seconds from the GT-600 when connected to your PC.

@trip PC (sample photo above, click to enlarge) is the same program described in my GT-120 review; it allows you to geotag photos & share 2D or 3D trip maps on Flickr or Picasa. If you’re so inclined, you can further share your files on social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter … but if you know me, this is the part where my eyes kind of glaze over. However, if social media’s your thing, I imagine this feature would be pretty cool. You can see an example of an uploaded file here (click on map view or 3D view) I did as part of my previous review.

Where I Am is another nifty program that allows you to place your current location on map from Google, Yahoo!, or Bing Maps, then get directions to nearby points of interest as you would when using these online mapping services ordinarily.

Sports Analyzer (see above, click to enlarge) is the GT-600’s new program, and combines Google Earth mapping with multiple route statistics including time, speed, distance, elevation, and calories burned (based on body data you enter beforehand). It includes an activity calendar that can be used as a training log, and multiple chart views for each workout including any combination of altitude, speed, or pace on one axis vs. time or distance on the opposite axis. Like the other two programs, the Sports Analyzer is extremely user-friendly and is a very nice addition to the GT-120 software.

Clearly, there are a lot of upgrades that make the GT-600 a very cool and convenient gadget to take along on all kinds of adventures. The price tag for this version is $120, which is quite an increase from the $70 GT-120, so whether the upgrades are worth the extra cost depends on how extensively you plan to use it. The less-expensive GT-120 is available here from Amazon.com, and the updated, more dynamic (and Windows 7-compatible) GT-600 is available at Amazon.com as well as other online vendors.

*Product provided by Mobile Action Technology
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at info@runningandrambling.com.


Michael Helton,  2/7/10, 8:58 AM  

Donald, I read this review and your other. It looks very cool and is definitely cheaper than a Garmin 300 or 400.

My question is, "Do you use it?" I only saw a couple of entries in your account.

Donald 2/7/10, 9:09 AM  

Michael - thanks for the comment. I actually use these gadgets all the time, at least twice per week ever since I've received them. However, as you saw, I've only uploaded a few files to the Web, because I don't have very much occasion to share my trips with a bunch of people online (the social media angle is kind of lost on me). The @trip program on my computer's hard drive has a ton of different routes recorded; they're fun for me (and especially my son, who is with me on most of my bike rides) to look at afterward, even if we don't put them on the Web.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) 2/10/10, 9:52 PM  

A couple of questions: Are these Mac compatible? (The Garmins were for a while NOT, and even then, it took forever to figure out that I had to use Firefox and not Safari. So if I want to just record the map of, say a 100 mile run, I can get by with one of these, as long as I don't need to real-time display of pace, time, altitude that the Forerunners give you, correct?

Stuart 2/11/10, 11:43 AM  

Interesting, this is the second review and it looks like a sound investment once I venture back onto the trails

Donald 2/11/10, 3:29 PM  

Mark - As far as I know, these are not Mac compatible. But your second question is correct; you just plug it in to the computer, and your 100-mile map with all the data is created in about 5 seconds. VERY user-friendly!

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