Qstarz BT-Q1300 review

Although it’s not Dolce &Gabbana,the black and gold Qstarz BT-Q1300 Travel Recorder Nano is a sleek and stylish gadget that even my sassy girlfriend wouldn’t mind carrying around. That is of course if she knew what a Travel Recorder was.

Basically this little guy is a GPS logger;a gadget that records your whereabouts as you travel. Although this is cheaper than hiring a private detective to follow a loved one around,travel recorders serve another useful purpose;Combine the your digital camera with the BT-Q1300 and the Qstarz software (included with the BT-Q1300) and you have yourself a great way to keep track of where your pictures were taken. The Qstarz software matches the timestamp of your picture with the data logged on the BT-Q1300 and updates your photograph file with GPS location information. No more having to remember where you were that night when someone took that embarrassing picture of you passed out at a bar. Even better,the Qstarz software will map out your locations on Google Earth so you can remember how to get back to that fine establishment to pick up your credit card the next morning (Just a warning:A 25% tip was probably automatically added to your tab).

Okay maybe there are better scenarios for this useful gadget,like taking a photography trek through Yosemite National Park. With the BT-Q1300 you’ll never have to take notes where you are when you took a picture. Just click away and use the software to add the latitude and longitude coordinates to your pictures and if you have a Blackberry handy you can also use the GPS logger to show you where you are on a map. But more on that later,first let’s take a look at the features of the BT-Q1300:


  • The latest MTK chipset with high sensitivity -165dBm and Super High 66-Channel tracking
  • Up to 12hrs for travel recording
  • Stand-Alone travel recorder to log up to 200,000 records
  • Dimensions 62L x 38W x 7H (mm)
  • Capable of Assisted GPS:download almanac data to realize fastest TTFF and positioning
  • G-Mouse + Bluetooth in one:wired and wireless GPS receiver
  • Built-in Photo Geotag and visualized travel path
  • Support button push manually to memorize your location immediately
  • Support Multi-mode setting to record data (Vehicle,Bicycle,Jog)
  • Fast Position Fix ,Cold start 35s,Warm start 33s,Hot start 1s
  • Auto On-Off function for smart power control
  • Auto Log On-Off function to save as much as memory during your travel
  • Personal/Portable Navigation (PDA,Smartphone,PC,etc.)


  • Double software included with built-in Google Map,multi-language support,and visualization user interface
  • PC Utility V3 for device configuration
  • PC Utility V4 with built-in Google Map and visualization UI for users to easily manage their travel
  • Auto track split function helps you organize your travel path
  • Track Edit function allowing user to remove unnecessary waypoints
  • Active NMEA protocol VTG / GLL manually via Qstarz setup tool.
  • Backup your travel record as GPX / PLT / CSV / NMEA / Google Earth file format.
  • Draw your navigation path immediately on Google Earth
  • Support GeoTagging function for digital photo and generate KMZ file easily

The biggest thing that jumped out at me from the list above was the size!

The unit is definitely pocket size,and with the included keychain makes it easy to take with you or attach to your camera bag.

Below the design on the faceplate are 4 small LEDs each lighting up with a different shape.

  • The Orange LED indicates the signal strength and looks like an atom. Flashing every second indicates that the GPS location is fixed and solid Orange indicages that the unit is searching for satellite
  • The battery icon lights up Green to indicate the battery strength. Red when the unit is low on power
  • There are two blue LEDs,one that lights up the Bluetooth symbol representing when Bluetooth is active and the other lights up an icon that looks like a pen &piece of paper,representing Log Mode. Both modes cannot be active at the same time.
  • The Bluetooth mode lets you pair the BT-Q1300 with another device such as a PDA or Phone. You can then use an application like Google Maps Mobile to track your location. However,when Bluetooth is active,the unit cannot log your locations.
  • Logging mode is indicated by the flashing of the Log icon. When the icon is solid that means the log is full.
  • The power button is on the side next to the mini-USB port. Holding the button down for about 4 seconds will power off the device. Pressing the button for 2 seconds will toggle the device between Bluetooth and Data Logging mode. Holding the button down for just a second will tell the unit to record the current Point of Interest (POI) (this will cause the Log icon to flash quickly 3 times).

We’ve discussed the usefulness of the Logging mode to write GPS information into your digital photographs using the Qstarz GPS Travel Recorder PC Utility v4. If you’re camera and GPS unit are not on the same timezone or off on their time settings by just a little bit,the software has a feature to allow you to shift your photo time by any specified days,hours,minutes and/or seconds so you can sync up and add your GPS information.

We’ve also mentioned how the software is integrated with Google Maps which is a great interactive way to see your travels. The software also has the ability to export your pushpins on the map as KMZ files so you can open them up in the Google Earth application. Another great feature of the software is that it allows you to upload your pictures directly to Flickr,arguably the best known online photo management and sharing application.

For when you’re not taking pictures,the BT-Q1300 can still be very useful when not in logging mode. The USB or Bluetooth interface allows you to connect the GPS unit with other devices. As mentioned above you can pair the BT-Q1300 with a PDA or a blackberry and use the GPS unit to track your whereabouts on a 3rd party navigation software like Google Maps mobile. Likewise you can connect the unit to a laptop via Bluetooth or the USB cable and do the same. The Qstarz Software CD does not come with navigation software so you’ll have to download or purchase your own.

What comes with it?

The BT-Q1300 comes with a USB Car Charger,USB Cable,User Manual,Quick Start Guide and Software Installation CD. The battery (not removable) is powered by the car power adapter,or USB cable connected to a PC or laptop. It reaches a full charge typically in 1 hour which lasts for 12 hours in optimal conditions. The battery indicator glows green during charging and flashes when fully charged (Though I think the opposite makes more sense to me). Since the BT-Q1300 charges through the mini-USB port the DC input range is 4.5~5.5V you can use the travel charger for a mobile phone like the Motorola RAZR. This can be handy for traveling and only having to bring one charger for multiple devices.


The Qstarz BT-Q1300 Travel Recorder Nano is a handy little device! For when you’re taking pictures or if you have a phone with navigational software the GPS is accurate and easy to interface with a computer or handheld device. The software is easy to use,the device is very small and easy to tote around with you. The cons against the device are the the simple 4 LED/icons on the unit,its hard to remember what mode you’re in and not intuitive so there is some need to read the instructions (which isn’t really that bad,but as a typical guy I guess I always see that as a con) For example I didn’t know if the unit was working or not but it turns out I was trying to pair the device but it was in logging mode but just a quick trip to the instructions cleared it up for me. The flap over the mini-USB port is sometimes near impossible for me to open,I’ve resorted to mini-screwdrivers and tweezers in attempting to remove the rubber covering.

-gautam khattak

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