Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
Good product with some extreme usability shortcomings
on September 19, 2013
I've had this item for close to a year. For me, it is sort of a hobby distraction, nobody loses their lives or property if it doesn't work. I bought it because my elder son approaches driving age, but he still has yet to pass his driver's test, so it's really just a plaything. I've read through all the reviews, belatedly, and thought I'd previously logged one myself, but since I haven't, here are my observations:
- Reliability and Endurance: When it's on, it's recording points, if you are outside. Occasionally, a plotted point is way off, but generally you get a pretty decent representation of your actual path. I don't know how long the battery lasts, because it has never run out. I usually download waypoints on a daily basis when I'm using it. I carry it around attached to my camera case, which is hooked to my belt loop (on my person). It does not generally record from within buildings, and it didn't work on airplanes.
- Intuitiveness: The other reviewers have this right, the "user interface" on both the logger device and the software are horrible. I missed a few segments of my vacation travels because I couldn't figure out if it was ON or OFF. I finally burned into my brain that it is recording points when you can see the BLUE light blink, which happens every three seconds or so. I have no idea what the RED light is for, but it also blinks once and awhile. The program that runs on your computer is equally obscure; once you figure out its idiosyncrasies, it does the job. Most confusing are a couple dialogs on which the text indicates some process is already initiated, but in reality you have to click on an initiation button to begin (downloading points, etc). You also MUST have the ITrails software running BEFORE you plug in the tracker sensor, or nothing much happens. Lots of similar idiosyncrasies that you'd think professional software/hardware developers would do better on.
- Capacity: Huge. I lost my computer hard drive, and thought I'd lost all my previously downloaded "trips", to include our family vacation to South Dakota. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all the waypoints remained on the device, a couple hundred thousand of them, and that the device was only about 10% filled, despite months of use. The main downside to the paradigm is that everything that has not already been downloaded is retrieved as one "trip" when you plug it in. Meaning, your "trips" are defined by when you download the way points. In the case of my recovery from lost hard drive, it meant that I have one mega-trip containing several months of journeys. You can seek waypoints by sequence number, but it is not intuitive to figure out, and you have to experiment and read the cruddy documentation pretty thoroughly to figure it out.
- Installation: Completely unbelievably obscure. Warning notes, dire imprecations of disaster, install device driver FIRST, logger must be connected to the same USB port to which it was connected when installed, blah blah blah. Mine works fine from an extension port, even though it wasn't the one I plugged it into upon installation. I did almost everything wrong the first time I installed it and it still seemed to work. I guess your mileage may vary.
- Standardization: Echo the sentiments of another reviewer-there is no excuse for the proprietary USB connector cable. Lose this, leave it at home, whatever, and you're out of luck. I did see replacement cables available somewhere for about $45.00.
Bottom Line: For all the seemingly negative commentary, I find the ITrail does what I want it to do, simply and easily and without a lot of poking around. Now that I'm familiar with its idiosyncrasies, all I do is push the big button for three seconds, verify the blue light is flashing (another three seconds), and forget about it. To download the segments, start the ITrails software, plug in the tracker, hit "Yes" a few times on the obscure dialogs, and wait a few. Review your trip in either the ITrails interface, or Google Earth. It basically works.