Review: PhotoTrackr Mini DPL900

GPS hardware to track and tag your digital photos. (February 25th, 2010)

GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr DPL900 is a hardware and software bundle with a small GPS device and JetPhoto software that help you add location information to your digital photos easily.

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Product Manufacturer: GiSTEQ Corp.

Price: $69.00 US

The Good

  • GPS device is light. Easy to use.
    GeoTracking features work well.
    Simple to recover from an incorrectly set camera clock.
    Uses USB rechargeable batteries.

The Bad

  • Must use GiSTEQ’s photo manager to tag photos.
    No iPhoto, Picasa, Aperture, or Lightroom integration.
    Must update to Pro version for RAW support.
    Some advertised features are Windows only.
    Software ships on a mini-CD, which does not work in slot-loading Mac drives.
    GPS device too thick for MacBooks.

The GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr DPL900 is a small GPS device that is bundled with software to allow you to simply and quickly add location information to your digital photos. How it works is that you set the clock on your digital camera. When you go out to take pictures, you turn on the GPS, and carry it with you. It is quite small and light, and comes with a lanyard so that you can wear it like a pendant around your neck.

Mini DPL900

Mini DPL900 Size Comparison


When you are finished, the software matches up the timestamps that the camera puts into each photo with the track that the GPS device recorded. It inserts the latitude and longitude where the picture was taken into the metadata for the picture. For most camera formats, the location information is stored in what are called EXIF tags, which are part of the image file, but do not show up in the actual image.

The GPS device doesn't keep track of where it is every instant; instead, it captures a location every so often, called a waypoint, and stores it in its internal memory. The DPL900 can store up to 250,000 waypoints, and you can choose how often it captures the waypoints. I used one per 30 seconds, so it would take about three months to fill up. The DPL900's battery can run for about 17 hours between charges when taking readings continuously, so for my settings, it should run for days before needing a recharge. The GPS device is too thick to fit into the USB ports of a MacBook Pro sitting flat on a desk; you have to prop the MBP up a bit on one side.

Mini DPL900

Mini DPL900 with USB Port Exposed

The Software

The PhotoTrackr Mini comes with a rebranded version of the JetPhoto photo management software. In addition to GeoTagging, the software supports basic cropping, editing, and uploading to Flickr or JetPhoto's servers. You can also create a slide show or a flash movie from your photos, and show the location of the pictures using Google Maps.

phototrackr471_open-screen.jpg

PhotoTracker 4.7.1 Opening Screen


Aside from the lack of Undo or Revert, there is nothing wrong with the JetPhoto software, but it is not comparable to iPhoto, Picasa, Aperture, or Lightroom.

phototrackr471_color-adjust.jpg

PhotoTracker 4.7.1 Edit Screen


If you've already put a lot of photos into another photo management program, you may not want to switch GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr, but the geo-tagging feature is compelling.

phototrackr471_open-screen.jpg

PhotoTracker 4.7.1 Thumbnail View


It is very easy to add location information to a set of pictures. After importing the images into the PhotoTrackr software, you plug the GPS device into a USB port, and tell it to tag the selected photos. Once you have done that, PhotoTrackr can show you where you took each picture. If the device missed the location, you can always add it manually.

phototrackr471_map.jpg

PhotoTracker 4.7.1 Map View


What I did was to import the photos into PhotoTrackr, add the geo-tagging information, and then drag them into iPhoto, and delete them from the PhotoTrackr album. It's a shame that there is no integration with these other photo managers and the geo-tracking features of the PhotoTrackr Mini.

The Downside

The Windows software that comes with the PhotoTrackr allows you to automatically set the clock of your camera by plugging it into your computer. This is a nice feature, but it is not implemented in the Mac version. I tested PhotoTrackr 4.7.1.G, which requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, but if you want to tag and use RAW files you must upgrade to PhotoTrackr Pro, which is a $20 upgrade, even though Mac OS X includes support for many different RAW formats. Another problem is the mini-CD on which the software ships, so you must download the software from GiSTEQ's web site. Mac users beware; do not attempt to use the mini-CD unless you have a CD tray loading Macintosh.

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