- by Danny Beveridge
- Published: 21 October 2010
The QSTARZ Q2100 is a digital GPS bike computer, from the wide range of QSTARZ GPS devices available for hiking, camping, backpacking etc. Though rather than displaying a map of where you are, it is designed to give point-to-point directions along a pre-planned route. So what does it do and how does it perform?
The Q2100 works as a standard bike computer in Bike Mode. It gives speed, distance, time, average and maximum speeds and an odometer. It also gives temperature and compass bearing (azimuth).
An excellent feature is the fact that every time you go for a ride, it records the GPS data automatically. This can then be downloaded and manipulated with the packaged software. It also automatically resets the trip meter for each ride.
The speed reading is in whole units only, and lags a little. This means that the on-bike readout feels more vague than on traditional bike computers. However, since it uses direct GPS measurements, it won’t suffer from calibration mistakes. It also means it can be swapped from bike to bike (to car etc.) easily.
Location Back Mode
The Location Back mode allows you to set four points of interest and will tell you how far away you are from each (as the crow flies) and in which direction each is (using it’s inbuilt compass)
How useful this feature is depends upon your personal application. Because this feature doesn’t take into account roads, tracks or obstacles, its use is mostly limited to where there are none. One major advantage however is at waypoints can be recorded on-the-fly. This means in extreme circumstances you could mark your starting point and find your way back if you were venturing off-track. It might also be useful for finding a point of interest in an urban environment where the roads are laid out in a grid pattern.
If you also have a (physical) map, you could also use this mode to triangulate your position by setting known waypoints before you leave.
Route Planner Mode
The Route Planner mode allows you to create a point-to-point path that you can follow on the bike. Unlike the Location Back mode, you cannot adjust the waypoints on the fly. This means that you have to map out your path before you leave, done by placing a sequence of points on the map (maximum of 99).
Practically, this means is that as you reach each waypoint, you press a button that then switches to the next waypoint and it tells you in what direction it is and how far. Essentially your trip is summarised into a series of straight lines – the more detailed your plan is, the more regularly you are adjusting the bike computer. Conversely, the less waypoints, the more often you wander off the path prescribed by the bike computer – hoping that it and the road will come back together.
This straight-line waypoint navigation method is effective enough to do the job, and perfectly fine for just finding your way, but likely to be too tedious for fast road riding in the city.
Elements of the Q2100 are great. The way it automatically resets the trip computer each time you go out for a ride is rather neat. So is the fact that each of those trips are logged automatically for a comprehensive training record. Simple functions that are one less thing to worry about pre-ride.
It’s also waterproof, light and easily transferrable from bike to bike. Remember though, that you will need to charge it up every 25 hours.
The LCD display however, is not as easy to read as we’d have liked – it’s only legible from a narrower range of angles than we are used to. Also, the speed reading feels hidden away in the bottom right hand corner, compared to the large main reading in the centre of the screen (distance/odometer/etc.). Again, both of these characteristics, along with its lagging and vague speed display make its operation a little tedious for road riding, possible better suited tourers or commuters.
We should note that it also has a Calorie counter function, however it is an estimation only since it has no inputs to account for wind, drafting, hills etc.
The packaged software is a major asset. It’s really quite easy to use and records a lot of information.
The QPlanner software is where you mark your four points of interest and map your routes for the Route Planner mode. It links up to Google maps and we found we could use it intuitively straight away. The only weakness is that since the Q2100 can only deal with straight lines, the mapping program forces you to draw straight lines too. No following the road automatically.
The QTravel software appears to be a great program for logging your touring trips. It will even automatically geotag your photos based on the recorded GPS information. It uploads photos to Flickr and Locr (which connects photos to geographic locations) and shows your trip on a map. It even has Google StreetView embedded so you can add photos of things you missed along the way.
The QSports software is the training program that logs your rides and statistics. Considering the instruction manual is written in “Engrish” this program (along with the others) is surprisingly straightforward and user-friendly. It displays and records your rides and gives you graphs, tables, calenders and more. It even allows you to manually record information about your diet and equipment.
It’s true that with a spreadsheeting program, you could record and display all of the same information, however the ease of use is outstanding. At a glance you can see clearly what kind of a month you’ve had without having to type a single number.
The Bottom Line
For some, the Q2100 will be a pointless device, with too many features to be cost-effective and too few to truly be useful. On the other hand, the ease of use and ability to quickly and easily record and see a month’s worth of riding may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
If you already own a GPS-equipped smartphone, it is hard to compare it to some of the excellent bicycle applications which you can download for just a few dollars. Likewise, the tedious point-to-point style of GPS navigation will definitely not appeal to some, especially at a price of $250
To be fair, the Q2100 is not trying to be all things to all riders, but what we can say is that it does exactly what it promises and the packaged software is outstanding.
The Qstarz is GPS cycle computers are new in Australian and imported by ProNav.