After my recent Tile reviews, I got an email from another player in the “Find your stuff” market, TrackR. It’s funny, back when smartphones first dropped, I remember being frustrated that no one had come out with a gadget or app to help me with the legion of Lost Things that seemed to disappear in my house on a regular basis. Now they’re coming out of the woodwork!
TrackR works from a different set of design cues than Tile. If you’re not a fan of the chunky early-Apple design that Tile is rocking, this is the tracker for you. The super slim, anodized aluminum casing comes in a variety of colors. It also sports a small blue LED (the better to find you with, my dear) and a user-replaceable battery.
I like the looks of the hardware; but ran in to a few issues right away. The key loop isn’t wide enough to accommodate free movement on a standard key ring. Mine would fit, but it wouldn’t budge once it was there. TrackR must have realized this, because they offer a carabiner clip attachment on their website. The volume is a bit weak, especially when compared to Tile’s second generation hardware. I find the alert tone to be tinny as well; but that’s just my preference.
The app is where TrackR’s ambitions really become apparent. There are 28 preset profiles you can use to set up your device, including dog and cat (though I question the ski/snowboard/surfboard profiles, as the TrackR is only water resistant, not waterproof). They make a big deal on their website about being pet friendly and, honestly, I hadn’t considered using it to track a pet, so good on them for expanding my notions of what these little devices can do. I think TrackR’s slimmer hardware makes it a smart choice for pet tracking too, the smaller ring on most collars makes the issue I had with my keys moot.
App options (apart from, y’know, finding your stuff) include the ability to find your phone and tether your TrackR so that if you get too far away from your phone, it will start beeping (which would be extremely handy for my wife, come to think of it).You can also select a custom song or tone for the device alert. What’s cool for those who have dipped their toe in the smart home pool, TrackR will work to trigger Nest thermostat’s auto-away feature.
Like Tile, TrackR has a “Crowd GPS” feature that lets you help others find their lost devices (or animals, as it were). Also like Tile, this feature only requires another logged in TrackR user to walk by a device you’ve marked as lost. TrackR boasts on their website that they have the largest Crowd GPS network in the world. However, there’s not an option to share TrackRs with other users, like you can with Tile. I think that TrackR is missing out on the benefit of family networks. When my wife lost my car remote last month, in a location where she was the only other person that had any sort of GPS tracking device, she was able to use her phone as a wayfinder to retrieve the keys, because I’d shared the Tile with her previously. With TrackR I could have gotten updates on the location if she walked around the area; but that would have been less than ideal.
TrackR is an interesting alternative to Tile. Aesthetically, it’s going to appeal to those who want something slim and shiny, as opposed to matte and chunky (and the user-replaceable battery is something Tile sorely lacks). The app has a few tricks that Tile doesn’t have (like Nest integration and automatic phone tethering); but the absence of sharing makes it hard for me to unequivocally recommend TrackR over Tile. You can pick TrackR up at your local Target or Best Buy and give it a spin.