In the 1970’s wildlife biologists didn’t have much choice when it came to GPS tracking devices. They could purchase a VHF transmitter that was either big and heavy or big and heavy. Fast forward almost 50 years. Choices for a GPS tracking device for wildlife biologists are abundant. There are many different technologies that can be used and within each of those technologies there are lots of combinations of technology to choose from. On top of that you still have the many manufacturers to choose from, all of whom have their own way.
But we all still have to live within the bounds of what is physically possible. Your choices each come with a price. You can think of those choices in terms of compromises that you will make. But if you do your research up front you’ll stand a good chance of getting a product that really suits your need.
The big three choices still revolve around 1) total product weight, 2) overall battery life and 3) performance. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know here. Battery size affects total weight. Battery life is tied into the battery size. The performance you expect (number of GPS per day/data download range, etc) is usually within your power to control so that’s another choice.
I feel for the biologist tasked with determining which product is best for his or her wildlife tracking project. You may become very frustrated with all of the choices and nuances within each product line. On top of that you need to compare products from different manufacturers. And you probably don’t have sufficient time to devote to this task because you’re already doing the work of 2 or 3 people. Just remember, the big three compromises are still with us. Take everything you learn with a grain of salt because it is within your power to decide which compromise you are going to make to get to the correct product for your project.