There are lots of different device trackers on the market. I've looked at the popular Tile device but found that it was really hardware subscription service and the Chipolo which is a neat alternative. This time, I'm taking a look at the TrackR, a device tracker that can also crowdsource the location of your lost devices.
Unlike the Tile, the TrackR products come in small packaging that doesn't add to the recycling bin in a big way. I have the TrackR bravo and TrackR pixel. Once I pushed them out the easy-to-open packaging, I installed the app - there are iOS and Android versions - and set the devices up.
When I set the first one up - the larger bravo unit which is about the same size as a $0.20 piece - I was prompted to press the small button on the front which initiated Bluetooth pairing. I was also asked to provide my name, email address and a password to enable crowd-sourced tracking should my device get lost.
I then added the $0.10-sized pixel and dived into the settings.
Settings and configuration
Each of the devices can be configured separately. There are options for enabling the crowd location alerts (the feature can be disabled if you're concerned about privacy and don't want to use it), your item's recent location history and you can set you phone to ring if you're separated from the TrackR or vice-versa. That's handy as you can put a TrackR on your luggage or laptop bag when traveling so that you know if it's been removed or if you've left something behind.
Each device's settings screen also gives you a look at the remaining battery level.
User replaceable batteries
The TrackR devices I tested have user-replaceable batteries. The smaller pixel uses a CR1620 while the bravo comes with a CR2016 cell.
So, your initial purchase isn't a way to suck you into a long-term subscription.
Using the TrackRs
There's not a lot to do once you attach the TrackR devices. While both can be attached to a keyring using the supplied rings, the larger bravo also has a small, circular piece of double-sided tape so it can be attached to an object you want to keep track of.
If you're looking for your keys, you simply go into the app, and tap the "Start Searching" button and the TrackR will start beeping as long as it's within range of its Bluetooth 4.0 radio. Although I couldn't find a way to customise the tone that rung on the TrackR devices, I could choose a song from my iTunes library to play when I used a TrackR to find my iPhone. Naturally, I chose ABBA's Ring, Ring.
The app displays the last known location of the TrackR device and, if you enable the location history, the last four locations before it was last tracked so you can retrace your footsteps if you've lost it. That's useful. With the Chipolo devices I tested, the only location it shows is the last known. Being able to look back over a few places can be helpful.
Price and recommendation
What I most like about the TrackR - particularly the pixel, is that it's small and less garish than the fancy Tile or brightly coloured Chipolo. I prefer to carry as little as possible on a keyring so I value a smaller device. But I know plenty of people like hanging all sorts of ornaments from their keys so that's a matter of personal preference.
The TrackR pixel comes in several colours and has a street price of around $29.
The larger TrackR bravo will set you back between $35 and $40.