Posted on: 2012-03-04 14:46:00 -0500

I’ve been wanting to geotag my photos and started looking at tracking units, iPod Touch add-ons, and handheld receivers a few months ago. The reviews of handheld receivers on GPS Tracklog proved especially helpful.

I wanted something rugged with replaceable batteries, as it’s going to get knocked around Iceland on a multi-day hike later this year. That ruled out the iPod Touch add-ons and several of the tracking units. The Holux 241, which runs off an AA battery, looked good.

Some reading up on GPS handhelds indicated that Garmin made the most user-friendly units with enough memory to log several days’ worth of track points. I mean user friendly from the standpoint of not locking down their units, encouraging third parties to provide maps, and providing Mac support. There are tons of free maps for Garmin units available online from GPS File Depot and other sites. This pushed me away from the tracker idea and toward a handheld unit.

The Oregon 450 and eTrex 20 & 30 all caught my eye. The Oregon is a touch-screen unit while the eTrex has a smaller screen and a UI based around buttons and a joystick. I stopped by REI on the way home Friday to check out these units. I fully expected to walk out with the Oregon 450. However, the touch screen felt unresponsive (and I wasn't even wearing gloves) and looked washed out even indoors. The eTrex would be much easier to operate with gloves, offers a longer run time, and tracks GLONASS satellites as well as GPS ones. It was a tough call between the 20 & 30. The 30 adds a barometric altimeter and electronic compass for a $90 premium. It seemed handy that the compass kept the map aligned to north as I rotated the unit, and it still cost a couple bucks less than the 450, so that was that, so a Garmin eTrex 30 it was.

I loaded open-source topos for Georgia and Iceland on Friday evening, and we went for a walk around our ’hood on Saturday. I snapped a few pictures, and it was incredibly simple to geotag them in Aperture once we got home. Now I just need to get my web site software written to include geotag links to Google Maps. The geotagging will get a workout on next weekend's hike around the Beltline.