Can you *really* track your car using your smartphone?
I wanted to find out. The ads for TrackR are literally everywhere lately and the hype has been off the charts. My inner skeptic wanted to throw a “BS” flag when I first saw a promo video for the device, but I wanted to get my hands on one to test out the claims. It’s really been pushed hard as a cheap way to instantly track your car and other valuable belongings. I found a good deal so I decided to buy three of them for testing (they were buy-2-get-1-free).
With over 3.5 million units sold worldwide, I figured they must be on to something…
So what gives? Can you really use TrackR to find your car (and other things)?
Yes, as it turns out
Here’s what happened when my friend Lindze tested TrackR with her car:
Is it the best solution on the market for tracking your car? Well, no. But at only $29, TrackR is definitely a bargain, especially when you compare that to the alternatives.
Vehicle tracking technology is nothing new — if you’re willing to spend some bucks to do it. Radio frequency-based tracking devices (like LoJack®) have been around for years (starting at around $700). You can also get real-time satellite GPS tracking devices like this one: http://amzn.to/2bikpPF for $89 + $240/year for GPS/GSM service (the cheapest I could find). They’re great if money’s no object and you’re looking to keep track of your Ferrari or your shipment of cocaine. [Kidding!]
So what is TrackR bravo?
It’s a coin-sized tracking device that you can attach to just about anything so you can locate lost items in seconds with your phone. Of all the tech gadgets I’ve reviewed, it has quickly become one of my favorites.
It’s pretty easy to set up. Basically, you install the TrackR app on your smartphone, connect the app to your devices, and you’re ready to go. I had all three of my TrackR’s paired with my phone in under 5 minutes.
Once your TrackR tags are set up, you can attach them to your keys, wallet, backpack, laptop, remotes, bike, pets, car — pretty much anything. (No, not people.) Then use the TrackR app to find your missing items. Seeing everything’s “last seen” location pinpointed on a map is pretty cool.
When my TrackR bravos arrived at our office, I paired them with my phone and then the first thing our team did was take turns hiding them in different places to see if we could find them. We’ve goofed around with similar devices (like the Tile) with less than impressive results, but TrackR was different. Without fail, we were able to find the hidden TrackR’s all around our office building.
One feature I really like is that TrackR works two ways — you can push a button on the TrackR device and it will ring your phone so you can find it (even if the phone is on silent mode). Tile can’t do that. Another thing that’s cool is that you can replace TrackR’s battery when it runs out. You can’t do that with Tile, you have to chuck the device in the trash and buy a new one. Big, fat bummer. TrackR definitely wins in that regard.
TrackR bravo is designed primarily for finding lost items around your house or in fairly close proximity (keys, wallet, purse, phone, TV remote, pets etc.), but one thing that take the device functionality to the next level is that it leverages the power of TrackR’s huge (now the world’s largest) “Crowd GPS” network. Basically how that works is when other TrackR users come within 100ft of your lost item, you receive a GPS update with a “last seen” marker pinpointed on a map. Pretty cool!
“TrackR has already helped me find my lost car keys (twice) and my wallet at the airport. Love it!”
What can you use it for?
TrackR is ideal for tracking and locating items like car keys, mobile phones, wallets, purses, backpacks, bikes, pets, TV remotes, drones… pretty much anything (not people, though).
How much does it cost?
$29. Pretty cheap! I’ve recently started buying them as gifts for my friends and family, and they’re always a hit.
So, what’s not to like?
Well… TrackR is pretty awesome, but it can’t work miracles. It relies primarily on Bluetooth 4.0 technology, so the immediate range is up to 100 feet (30 meters) for direct proximity tracking. It does not have satellite GPS tracking capabilities. Once a TrackR tag goes out of range from your phone, it relies on other TrackR user devices coming within proximity to anonymously ping and locate items. Because of that, the Crowd GPS functionality works better in more densely-populated areas. But for only $29 and no monthly service fees (and seeing how it’s only about the size of a coin), it doesn’t make sense to expect a miracle tracking solution.
Like I said, we see a lot of different tech gadgets hit our desks for review. Some of them are pretty useless, some are pretty cool. TrackR bravo is one of our recent favorites. I highly recommend you check it out.Find Out More »