by Brent Dirks
August 1, 2012
The PocketFinder Personal Locator really shows how far GPS technology has come in such a short time. Just by looking at the white, circle-shaped device, the casual observer would never really have any idea that contained inside is the GPS technology and a data connection. Measuring in at 1.625 inches wide by 2.25 inches tall and 0.6 inches thick, the device barely registers on the scales at around 1.6 ounces.
The HardwareWhat all those specs mean is that it’s about as big as two Oreo cookies stacked on top of each other. Powered by Location Based Technologies, the solution is totally sealed off along with being waterproof, impact proof and heat proof. As a nice touch, included in the package is a silicone cover and clip so the device can be attached to a belt loop, backpack, or pretty much anything else you can think of. Charging is a snap as well. The tracker contains two metal contacts that must line up with the included charging dock. A small light on the dock turns red while the unit is charging and switches over to green when the process is complete.
The AppAnd the hardware is powered by the PocketFinder 2 app available to download for free in the App Store. The app is universal and worked well on both my iPhone and iPad. While I was pleased with the iOS app from a similar GPS tracking technology I recently reviewed – the Tagg Pet Tracker - PocketFinder 2 is a different and much more powerful animal. Every function is available through the website can be accessed with the iOS app. And after a few days of learning all the app’s features, it is by far my favorite way to access the service. When you start the app, a map currently shows exactly where the tracker is, how far it is from your iOS device’s location, battery life remaining, and signal strength. Probably the most powerful part of the system is the zone feature. Starting with a specific address or city, you can create a geo-fence as large as a whole state or as small as a specific house on a particular street. You can then choose to be alerted when the tracker enters and exits the zone, or both. A schedule can also be created to select the exact dates and times you’d like to receive alerts. An infinite number of geo-fenced zones can be created. I set up a number of different zones and alerts to test out the system and was very pleased with the feature. I consistently received timely alerts for each of my chosen zones. Another great feature of the system is the extensive 60-day history. You can select any day in the past two months to see exactly where the tracker was at specific times of the day. While I don’t have to worry about my young children speeding all across town (yet), the tracker can also send alerts when a selectable speed limit is passed. I’m glad my parents didn't have that when I was 16. For fun, I selected a 70-mile-per-hour speed limit and then exceeded that on a local freeway. Almost immediately, I was informed of my speeding. Lead-footed teenagers beware. The app can also be used to revise the power management settings of the tracker. On the low end, the tracker can be located with zone alerts one time per day. For more up-to-date information, that can be changed to receive a location every 10 minutes with zone alerts every 5 minutes. And not surprisingly, the more tracking, the less battery life from the system. Battery life is advertised as lasting up to a week. And with careful use of the power management, I was able to get a little more than that from the tracker, which is very nice. But since charging is so simple, placing the hardware on the charger every night would make the most sense. The app can also inform a user with a selectable low-battery alert.
VerdictWhile the GPS technology is quite handy to have, the monthly service fees are something that should be considered before deciding to purchase the PocketFinder Personal. Thankfully, there is no contract to sign, but month-to-month service costs $12.95 per month. That’s a little higher than competing GPS tracking technologies and might price some consumers out of the market. But, if it’s something you will consistently use, that monthly fee is easily worth it. There are numerous ways the device could come in handy, and the simplicity of the hardware combined with the powerful features of the app make the overall solution a winner. The PocketFinder Personal can be purchased from Apple’s online store for $149.95. Two free months of service come with the hardware.
Location Based Technologies