Dear mystery monitor:
Here is my IR for this GPS device. Thanks for taking the time to look this over.
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Bushnell -- BackTrack D-TOUR
Test Series by Derek Hansen
Initial Report: 23 Jul 2013
Name Derek Hansen
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg)
City, State, Country Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical overnight pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), each of which includes food and water. I prefer backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.
MANUFACTURER Bushnell, USA
YEAR OF MANUFACTURE 2013, made in China
MANUFACTURER'S WEBSITE bushnell.com
Package Includes: 1 D-Tour GPS unit, 1 Quick Start Guide, 1 USB Cable
Runs on Windows (XP SP1 or later) and MAC (10.4.9 or later)
1 Year Limited Warranty
Weather Resistant Construction
Stores and locates up to five locations
Includes Time (military or civilian)/Temperature (Fahrenheit or Celsius)/Altitude
Distances in Yards/Miles or Meters/Kilometers
Latitude and Longitude coordinates
Logs up to 48 hours of trip data
Available in Green or Red
Requires 3 AAA batteries
Specifications WHAT THEY SAY WHAT I SAY
Weight 6 oz (170 g) 2.8 oz (80 g) (no batteries)
Dimensions 4.125 (H) X 2.75 (W) X 0.875 (D) in
(10.5 X 7 X 2.25 cm) 4 X 2.75 X 0.8 in
(10.3 X 7 X 2 cm)
Screen Size 1.625 X 1.625 in
(4.13 X 4.13 cm) 1.7 X 1.65 in
(4.3 X 4.2 cm)
COLORS Red, Green
COLOR TESTED Red
23 Jul 2013
The Bushnell BackTrack D-TOUR is a small, handheld simplified GPS unit that can store and then navigate back to five waypoints, and can save trip data (up to 48 hours). There is no mention of memory storage space. Essential to the device is the free software for both Mac and PC that is used to download and save trip data. The software also adds map and chart functionality.
The device is designed for simplicity with minimal buttons and simplified display graphics. The company states implicitly that, "The less you have to learn, the shorter your path to success. Simply put, GPS equipment that's easy to use can be critical to ensuring a successful hunt or hike a[euro]" and for guiding you safely back home."
The device has four buttons, two located on each side. A covered mini USB port is on the right side, just below the buttons.
Image courtesy Bushnell user guide PDF.
On the top, right corner of the device is a plastic lanyard loop. No lanyard is included with the D-TOUR device. Four metal hex screws are visible on the face of the device.
The back of the device has a user-accessible battery plate. The plate has a thumb screw that is easily twisted to unlock and access the battery compartment. The D-TOUR accepts three AAA batteries. There is no mention on battery type (e.g., alkaline or rechargeable) for optimal performance or otherwise.
Generally, I prefer simple, straightforward design, especially gear, as they can often be more versatile and easier to use. However, one of the challenges with electronic devices (especially in the era of touch screens and mobile apps) is that something too simple can come across as being a toy and not a compelling digital outdoor product. With electronic component miniaturization, a lot can be "crammed" into a small space such as a wrist watch or even a smartphone.
To me, the D-TOUR device walks a fine line between elegant simplicity and a toy. The outer plastic casing feels inexpensive and doesn't inspire confidence if accidentally dropped or if out in wet weather. The form factor is basic and uninspiring and feels a little too big and thick and for what it can do. Granted, it is lightweight, which is a plus.
The company claims the device has "weather resistant construction" but offers no details or universal IPX specifications. Will the device work if exposed to a light rain? What about for short durations in a heavy downpour? What about accidental submersion? What about being exposed to water vapor in a chest pocket? I wish there was more detail or attention taken to make this device more robust for outdoor use, otherwise I will need to take more precautions to protect it.
To Bushnell's credit, I was able to startup and navigate through the device without looking at the manual, I was even able to mark locations. I also changed the basic user settings (units and time) without any help. In order to begin tracking, however, I had to read the instructions. I discovered the backlight by accident.
Trying It Out
In the past few days I've been trying out the D-TOUR to get a good feel for it. First, I tested its speed accuracy while driving in my car. It seemed to be right on target with my car's speedometer and the routes were in line with the roads on Google Maps.
Next, I did a side-by-side comparison while driving with a GPS app on my smartphone to see how close they both were. The main difference was the smartphone app showed the elevation 20 meters (66 ft) higher than the D-TOUR, which when compared with a topo map, was more accurate than the D-TOUR. However, at home, the D-TOUR measured the elevation exactly to what I observed on the topo map. From what I understand of GPS technology, accuracy is variable depending on how many satellites the device is using at the time, but it is good to understand there is a margin of error.
In looking at both devices, I wished the D-TOUR would display more data on the screen, like current elevation, elevation gain/loss, and pace (as opposed to speed). The only data displayed on the track screen is related to speed and distance. Current elevation and temperature on listed on a separate screen. In other words, for a dedicated GPS device with simplicity in mind, I wish the data was more consolidated and presented in a well-organized manner.
There is no mapping on the device. In a nutshell, this device can help me know where I've been (if I mark a location) and can track what I'm doing, but it can't really tell me where I am, unless I have a map with me and can use the lat/lon data to determine my location. I can't enter lat/lon data and have it take me there. I have to get to a location first and mark it before the D-TOUR can help me find it (read: no geocaching or location look-up).
The only adjustment I can make on the device is to recalibrate the compass, which involves holding the device flat and turning it on a plane in a figure-8 pattern a few times.
I cannot figure out the memory capacity. On the track screen there is an "MB" icon that might mean "megabytes" plus a progress bar labeled "memory" that has ticks at "0" and "100" but there is no indication that this means 0 to 100% capacity or 0 to 100 megabytes.
The real winning point so far for the D-TOUR is the companion software. I've used other simple GPS devices and the support for Macintosh was lackluster. Bushnell, in contrast, has developed native software using the Adobe(R) Air(R) platform, which offers a very native-looking desktop app. It is essentially a web-based application wrapped in a shell that runs on the desired platform.
The installation process was quick and easy, and after updating Adobe(R) Air(R), I was up-and-running within minutes. Plugging in the D-TOUR with the included USB cable was clean and the application immediately recognized the device and downloaded my tracks without so much as an eye blink. No software configuration and no device plug-ins to install; it was fantastic.
The software provides visualization and organization of all the saved tracks. I can view and overlay multiple tracks at a time and toggle between different metrics that the D-TOUR saves, such as temperature, elevation, and rate.
The application uses Google Maps to provide mapping data, which is a big plus as most people are familiar with that interface and the different tools to switch between different map views. I can export the map as a JPG, email a link, or share via Facebook.
When sharing via Facebook, I had to log in to my account and authorize the app. The result is a link to my saved route on the web.
In the settings, I can switch languages and pick either English or Metric measurements. The application allows me to organize my routes in "folders" that I can rename. I noticed that when I changed a name on the desktop app, it was also changed on the shared version online, meaning they share the same database.
With this discovery, it is clear the software is web based, so all my routes are saved to a centralized database somewhere, not on my local machine. This means that the software is nothing more than a web viewer. I don't know how secure the data is or what layers of authentication are behind the scenes.
It is entirely possible, then, that in the future Bushnell could upgrade or discontinue the service making the desktop application no longer function: the pros and cons of a web-based desktop app.
I'm surprised the D-TOUR doesn't come with some sort of lanyard or strap, especially considering it has a lanyard loop. I'm disappointed that the device is more "rugged" with outdoor use in mind, such as IPX waterproof rating or shock protection. The device is certainly easy to start up and use and the software really helps improve its usefulness.
With only two major functions (waypoint marking and route tracking), the D-TOUR has limited usability. For me, it will be interesting (fun) to track my backpacking and hiking routes and get more detail on distance, speed, and elevation. The temperature gauge is a nice touch too and seems to work even if there is no satellite connection.
PRO--Easy-to-use interface. Great software addition.
CON--No IPX/waterproof rating. No lanyard. Cheap plastic casing.
I would like to thank Bushnell and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.