We have been looking for the best options for keeping track of our numerous gadgets around the office and personal devices for some time now. We've had our eye on a few different options, but until now we have had a very limited opportunity to actually get hands on any of the more popular devices like the Linquet, TrackR and others. So when the opportunity arose to purchase a new TrackR Bravo at a discounted price we jumped for joy (yes sadly we didn't get a free tester unit).
TrackR is one of just a few crowdfunded project we've actively been tracking (no pun intended) for some time now. The overall design of the device as well as promised capabilities always sparked our interest . Having recently lost a few sets of keys, among the many thing we occasionally lose, we decide to take advantage of a promotional offer of $10 off to buy a TrackR Bravo for the office which also netted us a TrackR Sticker for our home use (thanks to their referral program).
Our TrackR Sticker arrived fairly quickly as it seems they had plenty on hand. Unfortunately the TrackR Bravo took about 6 weeks to be delivered (something they didn't tell us), which may have been due to our order of custom engraving.We'll get into that a bit later as well!
The TrackR Sticker and TrackR Bravo both offer the same fundamental features. They connect via Bluetooth to your compatible device to allow for two way tracking and separation alerts. They also use Bluetooth to utilize the device's GPS system for TrackR's crowd based location tracking. The only major difference between the two devices comes down to deign, as the Bravo is thinner and lighter and the materials used. The Sticker is made of plastic while the Bravo features a much more stylish design with a very thin anodized aluminum shell.
Pairing and using your device is pretty straightforward. Turn on BT, open the app and select add a new device, then press the small blue led button to enable BT on the TrackR and it should pair right up. The TrackR App itself is pretty basic with a few features you can setup. You have things like device separation, so the TrackR will beep when the phone is out of range, or vice versa and the phone will alarm when the TrackR is gone. You also have your crowd based GPS map that shows you a last known location.
As mentioned with our TrackR Bravo we were also able to order custom engraving which offers the very useful option of adding a phone number or other details so you can be contacted if your device (and hopefully keys, wallet or whatever you are tracking) are found. We chose to add our phone number to one of ours, unfortunately the size of the engraving is very small and very easily overlooked! So we aren't sure how helpful that really will be.
Our Disappointment Begins!!
We started running into problems right away and from the app reviews on Google Play it sounds like everyone else had pretty much the same issues! First we started our testing by trying out the device separation alerts. We figured this might be something we'd use more often than not to locate our keys around the office or in the house or just to make sure we don't walk off without something.
Unfortunately as you can see from many of the complaints the audible alarm on the TrackR devices, yes we had issues with both, is not loud enough to be heard further than a few feet away in even a quiet location. The sound is also very high pitched so some people will automatically have issues right there. TackR told many reviewers that they had fixed this issue and had louder devices, but this doesn't seem to be the case since we just ordered ours and they have the same flaw. Unfortunately not being able to hear your device when it is in the same room means you are going to have issues pin-pointing it.
Our second issue was with range. TrackR claims an impressive Bluetooth range of 100 ft., however we were never able to get more than a few feet from our device without it setting off the phone alarm. On the occasions we did, range was limited to a line of sight of approx. 10-15ft at best. We also had several issues with the connection dropping and the alarm going off while the two devices were in close proximity. This got annoying and resulted in the need to shut down the feature all together.
Both of these issues are major disappointments! If you can't hear your device or rely on the alerts then it almost makes them worthless! You may ask if the app has any sort of reliable tracking that helps to pin-point location. Unfortunately no it doesn't. It does give you a very poor - close or far - indicator, but there is nothing that aids you in actual direction of the device or even how close or far it might be.
It Wasn't All Bad And We Did See An Upside!
The one and only upside that we can say we had was using TrackR's Crowd GPS system. It wasn't without flaws, but we were able to see the devices connected and located in a few locations while we were out on the move. This gives us hope that had we actually lost or misplaced one of our devices at one of the locations we were at that we might be able to find them. It would likely have to rely upon a stranger actually turning them in, but at least it would give us some sort of hope for a return.
In short while we started off pretty excited to test out our TrackR's and hopefully have something that would help us keep track of our devices at the end of the day we just ended up with a great deal of disappointment. Some people might be able to use them under totally ideal conditions and in completely ideal situations. However, that really isn't realistic and certainly not good enough to warrant us recommending buying them. Maybe down the road TrackR will be able to fix the sound issues and fine tune the tracking, until then I'll be looking for another option.