GPS technology is getting there. And by there I mean the proverbial cheap and simple.
I've been telling people for a while I'm waiting for a GPS unit that costs $50 or less, has an on/off button, can record for 24+ hours, has a USB port and fits on a keychain. No screen, no maps, just a button an on/off button and a USB. Bonus points if it can run on a standard AAA or AA battery you can pick up anywhere.
Why? I don't need to know where I'm at. I don't need some complex device that I need to keep charged constantly.
What I need is something I can throw in my pocket or keep on my kechain that can passively record my bike rides and other various activity for fun things like route sharing, mapping, analyzing the proverbial fitness data like speed, distance, vertical footage and other data easily deriveable from GPS data, and finally syncing the GPS location/time data with other data such as photographs and videos for geo-tagging and mapping happiness.
So where are we at on this little dream?
Well, the Freedom Keychain GPS still retails for anywhere from $80 to $100 so it's a bit over my $50 price point but it's extremely overshot all my other expectations. It can run for 10 hours without a charge and it turns out there's no need for USB output. It has Bluetooth. All the better. With Bluetooth it can theoretically add GPS support for any bluetooth compatible device from your smart phone to your laptop.
There's only three questions that aren't clear.
1) I don't see anything about passive date/time recording. Can it actually record time/location in a standard format like GPX?
2) What kind of software is available for my Mac?
3) Apple has announced they're opening the iPhone up to developers in February. Soo... when am I going to be able to get software for my iphone that lets me tap into this GPS data in realtime and mash it up with things like google maps?
I've got to say. Other then the fact that it doesn't seem to passively record time and location (at least in so far as I can read) it seems like it's already well exceeded my expectations.
I'd also like to point out pretty much every new cell phone has GPS built in. The only reason we don't have more GPS aware apps that mashup google and gps data over wireless data is because cellular providers are morons. Not just any kind of morons, but evil morons.