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Sony Cyber Shot GPS-CS1 review: Sony Cyber Shot GPS-CS1

MSRP: $149.99

The Good Simple to use; lots of potential for hacks.

The Bad Requires camera's clock to be set; few controls or display; minimalist bundled software; accuracy is unpredictable.

The Bottom Line This simple little gizmo can be indispensable in geotagging your photos, if the terrain's right and you're willing to be creative.

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7.5 Overall

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Sometimes it's easy to forget things, such as where you parked your car, where you put your keys, or perhaps, where you took that one amazing photograph. Thanks to the power of GPS technology, you no longer have to rely on your flawed human brain to figure out where you shot your photos. The process is called geotagging, and it's one of the best ways to keep track of where you shoot what.

The Sony Cyber Shot GPS-CS1 is a tiny GPS module that matches photographs to geographic coordinates. GPS units have been offered as accessories for professional digital SLRs for some time, but this is one of the first we've seen for consumer point-and-shoot cameras. Most digital SLR GPS units are complicated pieces of equipment that can easily cost more than $400. The GPS-CS1 costs less than half of that and doesn't require any extra equipment or complicated hardware setup.

Small and unassuming, the Cyber Shot GPS-CS1 is about the size of two D batteries and comes with a plastic carabiner so you can clip it to your backpack or any other clippable object. Controls? Not many. The only readily accessible button is its power switch. Once you turn it on, you can either let the GPS-CS1 do its thing or turn it off. A tiny, hidden reset button lets you clear the unit's memory, but other than the power button, that's it for controls. Its display consists of three LEDs representing power, satellite lock, and memory. The satellite lock LED is the only way to tell if the unit is working. If the light flashes twice every second, it's searching for a satellite. If it flashes once every two seconds, it has a GPS lock.

Using the GPS-CS1 is as simple as its design. You carry it around while you shoot, and it pages GPS satellites every 15 seconds to record exactly where you go. When you're done shooting, upload your images to your computer, then connect the GPS-CS1. An included program checks the time you shot each image and records in the image's EXIF information exactly where you were when you took that shot. Once that's done, you can load the files into Sony's Picture Motion browser, which features a Google Maps plug-in that automatically maps where your images were shot. The GPS-CS1 can record more than 300 hours of location data on its 32MB memory, and a single AA battery powers it for as long as 14 hours at a time.

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