Sunday, 14 February 2016

TrackR Review

TrackR To The Rescue!

Update 14/3/2017 Unfortunately I have to admit I haven't been using any of my TrackRs. First if all I had trouble connecting using Bluetooth. I had a oneplus one and maybe the compatibility wasn't tested with this phone. Either way the result was that I never used TrackR to find anything. After 6 months the battery's all died. I did replace them, but with the connection issues it all fizzled out. I so wish they worked.

I finally had to buy some TrackR devices. I was forced to simply because my memory isn't what it use to be. Quite what it use to be I can't fully remember, but I'm sure it used to be fine without the help of TrackR.

This is an image of a TrackR device.
A TrackR

What Is A TrackR You Ask? 

A TrackR is a device the size of a large coin that allows you to locate it with your phone. How it works is actually quite simple: The TrackR constantly tries to connect to any smartphone that has the TrackR app running. If it connects then it updates its location to the TrackR servers on the internet. As the owner of the TrackR device you can then look up its last known location at any time.

Also, if your TrackR app is connected via Bluetooth to your registered TrackR then you receive a rough gauge of how near it is.

Make sense? I hope so.

Why Did I Choose TrackR? 

Simple. It has a replaceable battery. The main alternative to TrackR has an un-replaceable battery meaning you have to buy a new device every year. It's a cunning subscription model to keep you coming back with your money every year. I'd prefer to pay a one off charge and have a lifetime usage. Also, TrackR is pushing hard to sell its products knowing that market dominance is worth everything in what will prove to be another Betamax versus VHS battle where critical mass beats all others before it, including technical competence.

I was asked by TrackR to write a quick review on Amazon in return for a free device. However it hasn't been published as yet and I also haven't received a parcel on the post. Early days.

From memory I titled the review "Not Perfect But A Must Have". This still seems to be an appropriate summation.

So What Does The TrackR Do Well?

TrackR's tracks your belongings! Attach it to your keyring and you will know where your keyring was, when it last connected to a smartphone running the TrackR app. A tricky concept to understand?It is important you do understand this so you know what you are, and what you are not, buying. Reading reviews on Amazon it appears many customers did not appreciate the subtle workings of TrackR before they bought, so let's make it clear:

How Does a TrackR Work?

Let's make this clear. TrackR devices do not have a connection to the internet. They can not communicate with you without help. That help comes in the form of a Smartphone. For a TrackR to talk to you, it must connect to a Smartphone running the TrackR app via Bluetooth.

I'm not sure it can be put any simpler than that. If you still don't get it, then maybe wait another year or two until 'connected' devices are available.

So what else do they do well other than  (sort of) track your belongings? Lets be as brief as possible here and have a list so we can keep this as succinct as possible:

  • They have a simple and easy to use app (to a degree)
  • They work even when they get wet (to a degree)
  • They attach to your property well (to a degree)
  • They are reliable (to a degree)
  • They have a long battery life (to a degree)
Why all the " (to a degree)"'s? Well, it is very subjective. I think TrackR's are reliable, however I bought 10 and one of them keeps randomly sounding its alarm. Am I bothered? (bovered!) not really as I haven't had time to figure out whether it is me or the device playing up. Maybe I have set it up incorrectly? Should I have to find time to do this for a simple product? No I shouldn't! However when I contacted support they were very helpful and honest, which calmed me down and gave us all time to concentrate on the working 9 rather than the bad apple demanding all the attention!

It is easy to see that using a tracking device is not as simple as one may think. All of a sudden there are requirements coming out of every nook and cranny! 
  • What happens to my TrackR in the wet? 
  • Will my TrackR get too hot in the car? 
  • Will my TrackR fall off the device I attached it to? 
  • Can I hide my TrackR so it wont get taken off and used by someone else? 
  • Will my TrackR work in the snow? 
  • Does my TrackR have an alarm on it? 
  • Can I swim with my TrackR?
  • Is the alarm loud enough? 
  • Will the alarm go off randomly?
  • Can I get a TrackR in pink? 
  • What happens if my dog sits on my TrackR? 
  • Will my baby swallow my TrackR and die? ... .... ..... 

Everyone will have different needs. 

TrackR Location Accuracy

One last point, one last very important point actually,  the accuracy and granularity of the TrackR reported location is rough. It uses Bluetooth so the accuracy is limited to the ability of a smartphone to detect the strength of a Bluetooth signal. Currently this is about 5 m to 10 m. A good way to put this is that you will know that your lost item is in your house, but you wont know which room it is in.

TrackR Atlas

TrackR are bring out a solution to help with the accuracy: TrackR Atlas. Atlas is a device you can plug into a room which will let you know whether or not your lost device is in that room. Currently in the pre-order stage we are yet to get hands on.

My Initial feelings is that many customers already expect this functionality before having to fork out for another product. With the additional cost, and complications of an additional product I think most people will be exhausted and frustrated before they consider forking out even more for Atlas.

My personal view is that there mus be a simpler solution out there somewhere and if TrackR don't discover it someone else will. Maybe there's a gap in the market to be exploited here!

All in all the TrackR is not perfect but it is still a must have.

Thank you for reading.

1 comment:

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