I was having trouble with my bicycle computer and I removed it (really I think the batteries just went dead). At the same time I had wanted a GPS based bicycle computer in order to make it easier to describe the places I have ridden to for my friends who are not riding with me.
I looked at the Garmin products; however, foreign branded products are very expensive in P.R. China. So, I purchased an i-gotU GT-800.
The setup was pretty simple. When turned on for the first time, and from any reset, the first thing it asks is what language you want displayed; of course, I selected English.
Like so many consumer products today, it uses a USB port for communication and charging. When I plugged it into my computer and inserted the disk that comes with it. Be aware, it comes with no manual, just a mini-CD. There is no Mac or Linux version of the software.
The disks auto run displays a screen with two choices: View manual, and install software. The manual is bad. Fortunately it is a pretty simple device; hold the power button for the menu. After making any setting change it returns you to the main GPS screen.
I chose to install the and, as expected, once launched, it called for an update. The GT-800 needs to be plugged in at this point as it also needs to update the firmware on the GT-800. I will talk more about the software later; but now, the widget.
GT-800 and assorted stuff for size reference
This picture shows it with a bunch of stuff off my desk in order to give you an idea about its size. It installed nicely on the stem of my cross-bike. The only problem is that I attach my camera case to the chest strap of my camelback. As a result, when I stand to pedal I tend to hit the buttons on the front of the GT-800 with the camera case. It isn’t a problem; it just changes the screen I am on.
To set the time it needs a GPS signal, I was able to do this on the balcony of my apartment. The time setting is easy but a bit odd. Instead of inputting a time, I selected from several possible times that were displayed. I will return to the topic of GPS signal in a moment, that has become a bit of an irritation.
Again, the menus are accessed by holding the power button. In the, “display” option I was able to turn off several of the screens. I was not interested in the pedometer screens; however, even with the screens turned off, it seems to still be collecting the data. As a result, if I turn the pedometer screens back on, I can see the data collected since the last counter reset.
Other menu screens select the counter reset, power the GT-800 off, adjust the backlight behavior, rotate the screen (for use as a really ugly wrist watch/computer using the supplied wrist strap), adjusting the logging interval, power saving mode, calibration (which primarily adjusts the pedometer sensitivity), Unit options (which allows you to select between Km and imperial miles), language, device reset, and the history. The history setting has several little submenus in order to allow the user to look at information related to the last ten rides (or other activities).
So much for telling you about the GT-800, the real question is, how well does it work. The biggest problem is that it is slow in picking up the satellites from a cold start. The promotional material says, “Cold Start: < 35sec,” seconds. My experience is that you will be lucky to see it start giving data in under three minutes. I tried putting it on my bike and them being slow about putting on my gloves and adjusting my pack; it was no help.
The best way to use it is to place it on a balcony, allow it to find some satellites, then go and put it on the bike. Even those minutes walking through my apartment building did not cause it to lose the satellites and I was able to start recording the moment I started moving.
With the exception of the cold start problem the GT-800 worked well. My typical riding is in canyons and under dense foliage; I never had a problem with the GT-800 losing the satellites. Normally it had a lock on between 6 and 8 satellites.
The standard model, the one I have, uses GPS data for altitude and compass data. The “pro” model adds sensors for both barometric pressure and compass heading.
As I mentioned, the screen cycle buttons are easy to accidentally press; however, there are both up and down buttons. As a result, it is easy to return to the screen you were on. None of the screen options are exactly what I want (I would like current speed, distance, and altitude); but, as stated, it is easy to move between them and get the information that interests me.
The battery seems to hold up pretty well. I went on a nine hour ride and the indicator still indicated full. It is replaceable; however, I have no idea where one would get a replacement.
The software is the opposite of the GT-800 in nearly every way. While the GT-800 is small and modern looking, the software looks like it was designed by someone who was only familiar with Windows 3.x; it is quite ugly to look at. As stated, it only works under Windows XP and Seven. I am using it with Windows Seven. It hogs the screen; so dragging the mouse pointer to the bottom does not bring up the dock. However, that isn’t the really irritating thing (things) about the software.
The software comes with two different programs that do two different things; and to make it really irritating, they cannot be opened at the same time. One program, “Sports Analyzer,” is a neat little application that records fitness data and puts the information in a calendar. It calculates calories burned, displays the route on a map and can easily change the map display to another day by clicking on the appropriate place in the calendar.
The other application, “@trip PC,” (which cannot be opened at the same time as “Sports Analyzer”) allows geo-tagging of pictures and, through a very non-intuitive process, placing photos on points on the downloaded route. Watching the tutorials helps some with using this application; but, it is still very user unfriendly.
This second application also allows uploading to companies hosted blog site @trip (http://www.a-trip.com). You can view some of my rides here (http://www.a-trip.com/users/home/21309). One other disappointment is that the blog site appears to only be viewable using Explorer.
As seen, it comes with the GT-800, an ugly wrist strap, a bicycle mount, a little rubber square used with the bike mount, some zip-ties, and a mini-cd with the manual and software (which will be updated the first time you use it), and yet another USB cable.
The GT-800 seems to be a decent device for the price; it ran me 640RMB (about $100USD). This was much less expensive than any other options here in China. However, the included software is ugly, hard to use, and only works in windows. With that qualification, I would recommend it.