Now this is a handy little device! If you have to keep track of your business mileage for tax purposes, you’ll know what an inconvenience it is having to enter the details into a logbook every time you go anywhere.
The GPS Log Book is an ingenious product that mostly automates the process. Simply plug the device into the cigarette lighter socket in your car and, well, that’s pretty much it. The Log Book uses GPS satellites to track your movement. There’s no need to turn it on. It will automatically measure distances travelled when the vehicle itself is switched on and off.
A green LED light on the top of the Log Book shows when it has GPS signal and is recording a trip. A red light means the device is trying to locate satellites, while a flashing light means the device’s storage is almost full and needs to be synced. To ensure that a particular trip is not recorded, you simply unplug the device from the cigarette lighter.
We weren’t able to test the unit in inclement weather — the South African Highveld serves up clear blue skies for months on end at this time of the year — but the Log Book can apparently lose signal from satellites in severe weather, much like your DStv connection does in a bad thunderstorm.
Once every so often — the manufacturers recommend at least once a fortnight — you plug the Log Book into your Internet-connected Windows PC or Mac using a supplied mini USB cable and simply provide the details of the trips recorded, whether they were personal or for business, and, if the latter, the details of the trips.
Trips can also be merged and vehicles assigned to a trip can be changed. Also, “zones” can be created for places that users travel to often so they don’t need to enter these travel details each time they sync the device.
The manufacturer explains that reports can be run to pull statistics on a particular zone, providing sales representatives, for example, with travel reports.
All the information is stored on the Log Book’s servers.
When it comes time to submit your tax return, the Log Book website can generate a South African Revenue Service-compliant logbook. Reports for business travel claims can also be generated, as can detailed zone reports showing all the trips made to and from a specific area.
Those who already use their car’s cigarette lighter socket to charge a phone or another device will be pleased to know that the Log Book has a full-sized USB charging port to plug in that iPod or smartphone.
In our experience, the Log Book worked as advertised, saving us the general hassle of maintaining a paper logbook. Best of all, the device, which comes with a one-year warranty, does not require any subscription fees. It costs R849, excluding a R55 delivery charge (waived for orders of two or more of them), and is available for purchase on the GPS Log Book website. Tyre retailer Tiger Wheel & Tyre also sells them. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media